The Real Deal Los Angeles

New chief economist takes helm at Trulia amid housing market cool down

Issi Romem, who comes to the residential listings portal from BuildZoom, is interested in land use reform that could encourage growth
By Dennis Lynch | January 15, 2019 01:00PM

Issi Romem new Chief Economist of Trulia

Residential listings portal Trulia hired Issi Romem as its new chief economist at a time when indicators show the U.S. housing market is cooling down. 

Romem will head the the San Francisco-based company’s Housing Economics Research team, which provides research, analysis, and commentary about the housing market across the country.

Romem jumped to Trulia after four years as chief economist for BuildZoom, a platform for homeowners seeking contractors. He is also a fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley.

He wrote in a Trulia blog post Tuesday that some of the most interesting topics in the U.S. housing market are the housing price differences between the country’s most- and least-affordable cities, along with land use reform, which could have a direct impact on how cities encourage growth.

A lack of buildable land, construction supply costs, and labor costs are all contributing to one of the most significant housing shortages in decades, experts say. Housing construction per household is near its lowest level in 60 years.

Chief economists typically act as the public face of the data-crunching operations at many real estate big data companies. Stan Humphries helped define the role within the real estate space during his years at Zillow by following the example of economists at major Silicon Valley tech firms like Google.

Other real estate data firms have done the same and some economists have bounced between different firms in the space. Former Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin started his own company last year and then was hired as deputy chief economist at CoreLogic. Redfin hired a former Amazon economist, Daryl Fairweather, as chief economist in October.