I found this in the Real Estate Journal, used it, and thought it was an interesting tool to those of you who have not seen this yet...
Heat Maps Offer Visual View Of U.S. Housing Prices
Tool/Web site: Trulia.com Heat Maps. Trulia.com, a competitor to Zillow.com, is a residential real-estate search engine that aims to provide consumers with real-estate information, including homes for sale, listing prices, sale prices and regional market trends.
Function: Trulia.com's Heat Maps offer a visual view of home-price trends that allows users to quickly compare areas that are hot or not. The site's national heat map offers street, satellite or hybrid views and is color-shaded by state to indicate three different data sets: average listing prices, median sales prices or Trulia.com popularity. The last category is based on the number of search inquiries from site visitors. Users can toggle between the heat maps of average listing price, median sales price or popularity by clicking on the column headers below. Somewhat surprisingly, for the week ending Jan. 31, Washington, D.C., had the highest median sales price ($720,000), while Hawaii had the highest listing price (approximately $1 million), and California ranked as the most-popular state. Kansas had the lowest median sales price ($59,044 ), and North Dakota had the lowest listing price ($168,028) and ranked as the least-popular state. (Hint: to view Hawaii or Alaska on the map, just click and drag the map into place.)
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Pluses: The heat maps offer a quick view of pricing trends both across the country and within more local areas. The maps are especially useful for home buyers looking to relocate -- whether within their state or county or across the country. One quick glance at a selected geographical area shows which areas or neighborhoods are priciest (or perhaps out of a buyer's price range) and which are within budget, or more affordable. Home sellers can use the maps to get home asking and selling prices for their neighborhood and gauge its popularity with buyers.
Drawbacks: While the heat maps offers data down to the neighborhood or ZIP code level for large metro areas, the maps aren't local enough for smaller cities or areas outside large urban centers. For smaller towns or ZIP codes, consumers won't get a visual view of what neighborhoods are hot and those that are not. For suburban areas, the heat maps may be regulated to the county level. Also, the maps rely on data that is somewhat limited in that it comes from participating brokerages only for listing prices and on preferences by Trulia.com visitors to measure an area's overall popularity rating with home buyers.
Insider tips: To view data for areas not covered by a heat map, the best bet is to go to the Trulia.com home page and type the name of the city and state into the search box, e.g., "Brookline, Massachusetts" and click on the "Real Estate Guides" tab before hitting "Search." Such a search will pull up a page for the city, including a map pinpointing real-estate listings, and charts with price and sales statistics, local school information and the location's ranking. (Brookline is a "hot city," according to Trulia.) Visitors to the site should note that the charts that accompany the heat maps are sortable -- e.g., for a heat-map search on San Francisco, http://www.trulia.com/home_prices/California/San_Francisco-heat_map/, neighborhoods can be listed from highest to lowest median price by clicking on "Median Sales Price" and by clicking on "Amount" to get the down arrow -- which shows that Saint Francis Wood had the highest median price ($2.2 million) between October and December of last year, a year-over-year increase of 26.1%.