Technology Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke leaves housing for the auto industry

Steps down after nearly three years

Nearly three years ago, chose Jonathan Smoke to serve as the real estate site’s first chief economist.

Now, the company is searching for its second chief economist, as Smoke recently left both and housing behind – for the car business.

After spending the last 21 years in the housing industry, Smoke is now the chief economist for Cox Automotive, an auto industry powerhouse that houses the brands Autotrader,, Dealertrack, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim, NextGear Capital, vAuto, Xtime, and others.

According to details from Cox Automotive, Smoke succeeds Tom Webb, who is retiring June 30. In his new role, Smoke will lead the creation of an economic industry insights office for the company.

“Jonathan will provide a fresh perspective as he offers analysis on the automotive industry and the economic and market trends that affect our clients' business,” said Sandy Schwartz, president, Cox Automotive. “Many parallels exist between the automotive and real estate industries, and Jonathan is perfectly positioned to offer actionable intelligence that will benefit our clients.”

Prior to serving as’s chief economist, Smoke was the chief economist for Hanley Wood, a media and market intelligence company. Earlier in his career, Smoke served in a variety of roles at Beazer Homes, including senior vice president of strategy and innovation.voss-jsmoke

Back in 2015, HousingWire Magazine featured Smoke on the cover of the January issue as part of a feature on the “new economists.” But now, Smoke is moving on from the housing business.

In a statement, Smoke said that he plans to use his knowledge of housing and apply it to one of the other significant purchases in a consumer’s life.

“I've spent my career working with data to improve the understanding of market trends and how demand and supply come together in purchases that represent the largest investments most consumers make,” Smoke said.

“I will help the company lead the industry with data-driven insights into what is happening and what the future holds,” Smoke added. “From wholesale to retail, new to used, manufacturer to dealer to consumer, I couldn't ask for a better venue for visibility into the automotive marketplace.”

As for, a spokesperson confirms that Smoke is no longer with the company, adding that there's an active search underway for a chief economist. 

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