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Case Study: Powering Market Research in Real Estate Using Social Explorer


“Social Explorer delivers critical, and the most recent, renter-household demographics necessary for smart apartment community design. Social Explorer’s easy to download census data helps you build the apartment community which will best fit your specific census tract or city. Demographics about renter household sizes, incomes, average and median rents, percent with and without children, percent single-parents, car ownership, mass transit usage, in tandem with existing rental housing stock, will help you determine your ideal unit mix plus which common amenities (i.e., tot lot) to include or exclude.”

– Joyce Hummel, Apartment Market Analyst at Hummel Dorman Enterprises

Social Explorer’s interactive data and mapping tools allowed Joyce to visualize and analyze the average gross rent for renter-occupied housing units in specific census tracts in California.


As a real estate market analyst specializing in rented accommodation, Joyce Hummel’s daily challenge is to help investors assess the rental potential of a specific area by drawing a clear picture of future renters. 

In order to achieve this task, she draws on a wide range of market and demographic data to help answer questions such as: 

  • For this specific area, how does the median income among renters compare to the median for all households? 

  • How does the median rent in this specific tract of land compare to the county median? 

  • Does the renting population in this area have young children? Or, instead, is a large percentage over 55 years of age? 

  • How does this population travel to work? 

  • For all of these questions, what is the recent trend over time?

Answers to very detailed questions like these allow her to make specific design recommendations to investors (should they build a studio or one-bedroom apartments?), as well as make an accurate assessment of achievable rental prices.

However, obtaining such a wide range of data from a variety of official government sources is difficult. Visualizing this data can be even more time-consuming.


Joyce saves time by routinely downloading the trove of data she needs directly from Social Explorer, rather than from less-than-friendly government websites. Because Social Explorer’s data library includes datasets such as the American Community Survey (ACS), Decennial census and many more, she only has to check one source.

For California’s Sacramento County, we can easily find a median gross monthly rent of $1,122. However, zooming in to the census tract level shows a considerable diversity of rents within smaller pockets of land.

Moreover, because she can export data from Social Explorer in just a few clicks, she can easily merge her own supplementary data into what she acquires online.

Use the “Create Report” feature to download median gross monthly rent data for exactly which census tracts you need.

Lastly, Social Explorer offers tools for concise and clear visual presentations, helping her communicate with her investors rather than bombard them with data. Maps from Social Explorer, either exported as images or embedded as fully interactive web features, present a crucial storytelling opportunity.

This map features the percentage of renter-occupied households with no related children under 18 in Folsom, CA. The surprisingly high percentages bolstered Joyce’s recommendation to construct one-bedroom apartments, as opposed to a design that would be more child-friendly.


For a market analyst like Joyce, subscribing to Social Explorer comes with a number of key benefits. 

  • The first is the ease of navigation in locating official sources of US Government data of greatest interest to her.

  • Because Social Explorer’s data is searchable by category (such as housing), users don’t need to know exactly what they are looking for to find a dataset that may have value for them.

  • Unlike other platforms, data is easily exported out of Social Explorer into a variety of preferred formats, such as Excel or CSV files. This flexibility allows Joyce to merge data acquired through Social Explorer with her own sources.

  • Plenty of tools exist for creating charts and tables, but mapping data without GIS expertise can be challenging. Social Explorer’s platform makes mapping data simple and intuitive. Change datasets with a few clicks. Zoom in or out to change the level of data from states down to census tracts.

Author: Amrapali Saha

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