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Gaming the Data: Realtors Fudging the Numbers

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On June 29, 2007 @ 6:18 am In Data Analysis,Economy,Real Estate | Comments Disabled

As if the NAR data wasn’t gamed, massaged and otherwise manipulated by the reportage of local realtors themselves: It turns out to be even worse than I imagined.

From a South Florida paper, we learn that local realtors are refusing to submit ALL THE DATA to their regional Board of Realtors, because doing so would dilute the nicer parts of town with lower-priced and worse-performing neighbors:

"The Naples Area Board of Realtors has long wanted to report that city’s results undiluted by lower-priced and worse-performing neighbors.

In fact, for the past few months, the board has refused to submit its sales and price numbers to the Florida Association of Realtors for its comprehensive monthly reports.

Marla Martin, an FAR spokeswoman, said the Naples board — representing the wealthiest median home sales prices in Florida — had raised issues with the state association relating to the presentation of the board’s sales and price data."

Can’t have those crappy neighborhoods affecting our overall sales data, can we?

Statistics published in the trade association’s "Sarasota Realtor" magazine had this footnote: Data may "include some listings in Manatee, Englewood, Venice and other areas." For shame . . .

THis  is merely one of the many different ways that Realtors have been playing with their data: First, a slow selling house can get pulled off of Multiple Listing, and then relisted with a different MLS number and at a lower price. That makes the overall time-to-sell appear much better than it really is. The mulligan can take months or even years of time-on-the-market-to-sell.

This game also improves the "Percentage of asking price recieved" number. A $600k house that sold for $450k is 75% of ask, versus the same home relisted and asking $500k — and getting the same $450k; that’s selling for 90% of asking price.

Defaults_20070629 [1]
Of course, all of this is irrelevant to the rising tide of Foreclosures:  while several private and state efforts have been made to reduce the increases, the bottom line is that there are presently millions of homes occupied by people who cannot afford them. Changing an ARM to a 30 year fixed isn’t going to alter that.

And, as the nearby chart reveals, its not just "Sub-prime" mortgages — "Alt A"s are seeing a nice spike in late payments (60 days overdue) and defaults too . . .


Realtor groups may quit statewide reports [2]
Herald-Tribune, June 26. 2007 4:49AM

Subprime: Point to Where It Hurts [3]
Steps to Modify Loans And Avert Foreclosures Has Investors Clashing
WSJ, June 29, 2007; Page C1

Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2007/06/gaming-the-data-realtors-fudging-the-numbers/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/29/defaults_20070629.gif

[2] Realtor groups may quit statewide reports: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070626/REALESTATE/70626001

[3] Subprime: Point to Where It Hurts: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118308383764052523.html

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