Want to try your hand at forecasting future housing and economic trends? Turns out, you can get your data straight from the source — and it’s pretty easy, too. But how useful is it?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) new Consumer Credit Trends tool allows you to track origination trends of:

  • mortgages;
  • credit cards;
  • auto loans; and
  • student loans.

In the future, the CFPB plans to also report on credit applications, delinquencies and trends in the level of debt consumers are carrying.

All data is reported at the national level. For instance, in January 2017, 611,161 mortgages — including refinances — were originated, accounting for $156.8 billion. This is a 46.6% increase over a year earlier. Here in California, a significant 68% more mortgages were originated in January 2017 than a year earlier.

The CFPB also breaks down mortgage lending levels by income. These charts show an increase in mortgage lending for all income levels throughout 2016.

Homebuyers and homeowners with high credit scores continue to receive the most mortgage approvals. Low-credit score individuals saw fewer mortgage originations through most of 2016.

The CFPB reports 30-44 year-olds took out the most mortgage funds in January 2017, followed closely by 45-64 year-olds. As expected, the age group taking out the smallest amount of mortgage funds was the under 30 crowd.

How do you use this information to form a forecast for your local housing market? The problem is, national, aggregated data isn’t too relevant for any one area of the country.

Regional is best

Use the CFPB’s new tool for a national snapshot of what’s going on. But to form a picture of how your real estate business will fare in the coming months and years, look to local data.

For instance, the housing markets in California’s costly coastal cities differ greatly from its inland regions. Real estate agents usually limit their practice to a few neighborhoods, which have their own particularities.

first tuesday publishes regional housing indicators on its first tuesday Local page.

Here, you’ll find information on home sales, new construction, the economy and many other factors that influence the housing market in each major area of the state, from the Bay Area to San Diego.

Searching for more specific data? Try American FactFinder, where you can access detailed annual Census data by state, county, city and even zip code.