At a time of great challenges in the real
estate market, Hanley Wood—the housing industry's leading
independent research firm—envisioned a rich Business
Intelligence solution that would help customers cut costs,
mitigate risk, and identify new business opportunities. The
result is a powerful but easy-to-use analytics platform that
lets builders, financial institutions, and analysts slice,
dice, and drill down into all available data in
As the largest player in residential construction, Hanley
Wood is synonymous with the biggest names in the space, known
for its marquee events, award-winning publications, and more
than 30 branded Web properties.
“This is a different housing market than we’ve seen—risk
and cost control are key for companies to be successful,” said
Jonathan Smoke, Hanley Wood’s Senior Vice President of
Products and Innovation. “Now is the time that this industry,
this country, this world appreciates intelligence about
housing more than they ever have.”
To meet this demand, the firm needed to become the most
comprehensive, single-source collector, aggregator, and
distributor of U.S. housing market intelligence. But it faced
First, the market intelligence firm it purchased a few
years ago covered only 79 major markets, or 163 counties in
the U.S. In addition, market statistics were lacking as
residential real estate statistics on new and existing home
sales rely heavily on
survey data and do not represent the actual recorded sales
“We have a client base of around 400 companies, but we
could capture only part of their spend because we covered only
a portion of the markets and a certain amount of data they
needed,” noted Smoke.
To solve these problems, Hanley Wood envisioned a Business
Intelligence (BI) solution that would collect actual home
sales deed transactions from all U.S. counties and combine
those transactions with buyer demographics, builder data, and
home characteristics, providing a rich and easy-to-use
analytic platform that would let customers slice, dice, and
drill down into all available data in minutes.
Hanley Wood turned to Microsoft Gold Certified Partner
Solid Quality Mentors to develop Housing Intelligence Pro
(HIP)—an advanced analytical system for the real estate
market. HIP combines all U.S. housing market tax and sales
data in an integrated BI solution along with customer
demographic, builder, subdivision, census, and mapping data.
Based on Microsoft Silverlight, it follows the
software-as-as-service model, with subscribers paying for
access. Subscribers log into the Silverlight analytics
application, hosted in an ASP.NET Web portal, to navigate
through the information.
||I’ve been in the housing
industry for 35 years and have never seen data
brought together in such a compelling way. This is
going to change the way the industry works with
The analytics UI leverages the Silverlight BI Companion
tool from Enterprise Software Solutions (http://www.entsoftsol.com/),
which connects into Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis
Services and allows for charting, pivoting, and geospatial
drilldown by different shapes (e.g., state, county, ZIP code)
and by heat maps that use color to compare data points.
HIP’s integration with Bing Maps allows polygon searching
of tax and deed data and uses the Bing Maps Silverlight
control to show map layers and highlight homes. Users can also
connect to the data using Excel 2007 through the Web and
leverage Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services’
advanced reports and data exports.
To manage all the data sources it draws from, HIP features
an intelligent ETL engine and an internal application for
Hanley Wood research analysts. The engine detects patterns and
matches, using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services’
fuzzy matching and geospatial queries to predict associations
and sales types. Analysts can then fill in missing data such
as addresses and tie homes to subdivisions and their builders.
Using the Bing Maps Silverlight Control they can zoom—down to
the level of a house number—and highlight various shapes,
which can then be coordinated with actionable tasks such as
validating sales data.
Behind the scenes, a SQL Server 2008 data warehouse stores
the application data, associates data sources together, and
tracks historical housing sales data into a dimensional model.
Shapes are also stored and associated in the data warehouse,
letting users perform spatial queries.
With HIP, Hanley Wood now covers more than 2,300 U.S.
counties. Instead of handling only 40% of new home
transactions, it covers 95% of all housing transactions,
including existing home sales and foreclosures.
Raw Data into
The HIP solution includes nationwide daily and weekly data
feeds from many sources and turns the raw data into actionable
information. Customers can slice and dice the data through
HIP’s rich analytics to make better decisions faster. And
reports and data sets that used to take significant time to
create can now be assembled in minutes with HIP’s analytics
Frank Anton, CEO of Hanley Wood, sums up the impact: “I’ve
been in the industry for 35 years and have never seen data
brought together in such a compelling way. This is going to
change the way the industry works with information.”
Growing Revenue and Market
For HIP’s technology component—including hardware,
software, and Solid Quality Mentors’ design and development
services—Hanley Wood expects to see a 100% return on
investment in about 1 year. The strategic return in terms of
revenue and market share growth is even more exciting for the
With its expanded analytical capabilities and extended
reach, Hanley Wood looks to grow past 2000-3000 customers
within a few years. Today, the solution is giving Smoke and
his team the ability to meet with the largest organizations in
the housing space. Companies such as CB Richard Ellis, Cushman
Wakefield, Beazer Homes, MDC/Richmond American, Pulte Homes,
Lennar, and more are already testing or using the new platform
with great success.This case study is for
informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES,
EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.