Fan of Hot Tamales works primarily on developing models to forecast home prices for Seattle-based Zillow.

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ECONOMIST
Krishna Rao

What do you do? I am an economist at Zillow, an online real estate marketplace. I work primarily on developing models to forecast home prices, but more broadly my job is to analyze real estate market conditions, interesting patterns, and past and future market trends. Put simply, I play with real estate data.

How did you get started in that field? I’ve always loved economics. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for a while and then moved across the country to California for graduate school. I joined Zillow just after finishing the work for my Ph.D.

What’s a typical day like? A typical day starts with digesting some of the recent news about housing markets. What is happening with interest rates? How many new permits for housing construction have been issued this month? (And, if I have time, how much did Oprah’s condo go for?) Then I’ll typically dive into whatever analysis I’ve been working on.

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Sometimes it is a complicated, long-term project, like trying to more accurately forecast the housing market. But other times it is short, fun things, like trying to figure out which cities have low rents and lots of singles to help out anyone looking for love on Valentine’s Day.

What’s the best part of the job? Decisions around real estate are some of the most important financial choices the average person makes. It feels both fun and impactful to work together as a team to come up with ways we can help consumers think about those decisions and make more informed choices during the process.

I am also quite partial to the wall of candy we have here at Zillow; recently, I’ve been hitting the Hot Tamales pretty hard.

What surprises people about your work? I think people are surprised by how much effort Zillow puts into producing and analyzing economic data. We have over a dozen economists, statisticians and mathematicians all working on cool ways to get more data to consumers!

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