We hope you’re hungry because this complimentary, sit-down affair will treat you to a veritable cornucopia of data. The site rightfully boasts about being "The Web’s Largest Data Library" with over a million series available, primarily series of U.S. interest. Part of Economy.com’s Web site family, FreeLunch.com is a Yahoo!-like directory of historical economic and financial data series that you can browse or search.
Of particular interest to us is the Real Estate directory. There you will find data for housing starts, permits, completions, sales, non-residential construction, and the Freddie Mac Conventional Mortgage Home Price Index. Each series can be viewed and manipulated right in your browser window. Locate a series, housing starts for example, and click the link to see your options.
FreeLunch.com presents you with series for Total, 1 Unit, and Multi-Family (either 2-4 Units or 5 Units or More) in either table or chart format. For you folks who like to copy and paste data, the table gives you an onscreen peek at all the data in an Excel-looking spreadsheet. The chart view, however, is much more flexible. You have the option to manipulate the series, charting different time periods, frequency, and transformations - such as % changes.
To fully leverage the power of this site, you will likely want to download data to your computer, which requires you to fill out a short, but free, online registration form. (If you registered for Dismal.com last month, you can use the exact same login and password to take advantage of all that Free-Lunch.com has to offer - your registration is good here too!)
Freelunch.com will download the desired data into a single Excel worksheet, called Freelunch.xls. Individual series show start and end dates, descriptions and mnemonics, frequency and sources, and geographic detail when applicable. You can download up to 25 series at a time. And when you’ve downloaded those 25, you can download 25 more and so on.
Although it seems odd mentioning this last, this site’s home page borrows a short list of links to economic releases for today and tomorrow from its cousin site, Dismal.com. So if you need to keep track of the day-to-day economic churnings, FreeLunch.com allows you to review both analyses and data from one spot. Many of us pay large sums of money for data - even though it’s often freely available data - just so we can get it in a useful and organized manner. That expense may no longer be necessary, thanks to FreeLunch.com. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.