Monday, June 16, 2008

The Almost Daily 2¢ - Crunching The Numbers, Realtor Style!

I know this item has already made the rounds over the weekend but I wanted to take a moment to highlight again the great work done by the excellent blogger of the New Jersey Real Estate Report in uncovering the National Association of Realtors (NAR) gross mishandling of basic homes sales data for New Jersey.

Just to reiterate, although the first quarter 2008 home sales data released by the NAR last month showed widespread and significant home sales declines for 47 states, it also included what was termed by various media organizations as a potential “silver lining” with the New Jersey results unexpectedly showing a 4.05% increase in sales on a year-over-year basis, a significant turnaround.

Many onlookers were puzzled but the New Jersey Real Estate Report’s blogger James Bednar, intimately familiar with the regions housing market, immediately suspected there was an error.

After multiple emails to the NAR regional and national leadership concerning the matter, the NAR quietly and only locally reported that there was, in fact, a dramatic error made while “crunching the numbers”.

As it turns out, there was no increase at all and New Jersey home sales, in reality, actually declined by a whopping 30%.

How’s that for a blunder?

Sadly though, a “number crunching” error of this scale coming from the National Association of Realtors really doesn’t seem very surprising.

This event confirms that the NARs numbers should always be taken with a significant degree of suspicion and that their data should not be assumed to be immune from careless or even negligent mishandling.