REVIEWER: George Ratiu, economist for the National Association of Realtors, Washington, DC.

BACKGROUND: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate. NAR's research division analyzes economic, policy and structural effects of changes in the real estate industry. We provide studies, forecasts and statistics on topics affecting the practice of real estate and the ownership and management of real estate firms. Our analyses of housing market trends and economic impacts are quoted and used by many of our members, and our commentaries are regularly covered in the national media. NAR implemented SAS Visual Data Discovery in order to unify an extensive and diverse network of data sources and enhance our analytical capabilities.NAR’s goal is to be current on all aspects of the U.S. housing market at national, regional and local levels. Being able to consolidate large data sets in a manageable framework, while providing easy access to our membership, is critical to our mission. 

PLATFORMS: SAS Visual Data Discovery and SAS Enterprise Guide operate on a Microsoft Windows Server at NAR.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed to overcome the limitations inherent in consolidating multiple sources of data with varying formats such as flat files and relational databases. SAS Visual Data Discovery made an immediate difference. With SAS, NAR can more easily aggregate large amounts of data, analyze it and extract meaningful insights about homebuyers, sellers and economic activity. Reports that once required hours for data integration and analysis can now take as little as five minutes.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SAS Visual Data Discovery empowers NAR to graphically interact with data in order to clarify results, compare different scenarios, test assumptions and take actions that benefit stakeholders. By holding data in memory during visualization, NAR can take advantage of multithreading and work faster in multiprocessor machines. With SAS, NAR can export interactive animations into presentations, Web pages and other documents so others can interact with the visualizations to understand the implications and take action quickly. Whether users interact with the point-and-click interactive environment or choose to code to customize analyses with their own SAS programs, SAS provides the flexibility for NAR users to learn and grow.

STRENGTHS: We especially appreciate three SAS Visual Data Discovery strengths.  The data integration and management platform is efficient and quick. SAS is data neutral, allowing NAR to access, process and output any data source, no matter what format or size. Powerful analytical processes are easily accessible and flexible. The full spectrum of SAS analysis procedures is available in SAS Visual Data Discovery with the added bonus of the SAS Enterprise Guide graphical user interface. We have the ability to scale projects as needed. From ad hoc reporting and multirelational database integration to survey management and analysis, SAS Visual Data Discovery has allowed NAR Research to tackle a broad range of projects and given us a strong foundation for growth.

WEAKNESSES: Based on NAR’s experience, the software suite presents few weaknesses. Leveraging SAS Enterprise Guide with SAS Visual Data Discovery eased the learning curves for some. Given its wide array of functionality and capabilities, gaining familiarity with the range of questions we can tackle and the various ways to do it can take time.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The main reasons for selecting SAS were the software's superior data management features and analytical capabilities, as well as the company's exceptional technical support. NAR weighed several available options, and SAS was determined to be superior to the competitors we evaluated.

DELIVERABLES: SAS Visual Data Discovery produces a broad range of outputs. At a foundational level, the product serves as a data management platform, allowing NAR research to consolidate various data sources into a common format, namely SAS databases. Building from that, the software suite generates cross-sectional and time-series reports for dissemination to both internal and external audiences. Based on the software capabilities, reports are output in multiple formats, such as HTML, RTF and PDF.

VENDOR SUPPORT:  Throughout the pre- and post-implementation process, NAR has had a positive experience with SAS. They were sensitive to our specific requests and ensured that any issues were properly addressed. Once installed, SAS followed up to answer any questions and cover any remaining issues.

DOCUMENTATION: Once implemented, we were able to manage and run the product based on the documentation provided. The technical product documentation detailing data and analytical procedures is extensive. NAR could use more business analyst-oriented materials for less technical users. Fortunately, SAS provides outstanding online technical support that delivers straightforward explanations to our end users when they need immediate answers to questions.

SAS Visual Data Discovery

SAS Institute Inc.

100 SAS Campus Drive

Cary, NC 27513

(919) 677-8008

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