We're used to Realtors spinning statistics to try and cast the most positive light on the bleakest situations, but this is a pretty new one: Realtors releasing data that is just plain wrong.
The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that "The California Association of Realtors expects to make sharp downward revisions in its recent monthly reports of soaring home sales in the San Diego area, Robert Kleinhenz, deputy chief economist of the trade group, said in an interview. Those revisions will mean modest downward revisions in statewide sales, he added." (emphasis added)
Then later in the piece: "The California Realtors have reported that San Diego sales in April were up about 63% from a year earlier. Mr. Kleinhenz said that is expected to be revised downward to a gain of about 20%. For May, the group reported an 89% increase in sales in San Diego; that will be slashed to about 6.5%, the economist said."
Is revising a 63% increase down to 20% "modest? What about revising an 89% increase down to 6.5%? I don't think anyone other than an economist with the Realtors would try to make that argument. And one thing's for sure: if they were revising the sales figures upward from 6.5% to 89%, they would be trumpeting it as a major bit of good news. But when it's negative news, it's minor news -- "modest" news, if you will.
While I understand that statistical errors do happen, I have to ask: Didn't anyone notice that an 89% increase seemed awfully high? Couldn't they have asked a few agents in the area whether their transaction volume was up anything resembling that much? It just seems really, really pathetic that an error of that magnitude wouldn't have been noticed by anyone until the information had been released by the media -- and was being used by the industry to bring nervous buyers off the sidelines.
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