Damn Lies and Market Statistics

Anyone who knows me knows that I love what statistics tell me about the real estate market. I have charts and data on the Cheverly market going back more than 10 years. (All I can say is – Microsoft Excel is my friend!)

Want to know where to find me around midnight on the last day of the month? Actually, I’m sure it’s never occurred to you to think about it, but chances are I’m sitting at my computer, looking up exciting stuff like:

  • total number of active listings in Cheverly
  • Average and median prices of homes that have sold
  • Average and median asking prices
  • List to sold price ratio
  • Number of days on market
  • How many distress sales are on the market
  • Seller subsidies
  • Number of new listings on the market
  • Number of listings that failed to sell (either expired or were withdrawn from the market)

So yesterday morning, I pooh-poohed tracking closed sales – I just don’t find it tells me very much. It’s interesting to see how much a particular house sold for, but by itself, the information has limited value.

For instance, six houses* went to settlement in January 2011. Six is actually a pretty good number for a January – 2 or 3 is much more typical and that’s going back quite a few years. Six settlements feels good – feels like maybe the market is improving. But if you’re looking for trends, you want to know about market activity when it happens, not weeks or months later.

Of those six properties, 4 contracts were accepted in December, 1 was accepted in October and 1 was accepted last August. So if you’re tracking market activity (which I find way more interesting), you’ll want to know how many contracts (we call those “pending sales”) were accepted in January.

Three! Only three. Actually, there were 4 accepted, but one contract has already fallen apart. So if you were counting houses settled, you’d think we were in a much more robust market than we’re really in.

Follow this link – January 2011 market – for all the articles as they’re posted.

Stay tuned…

© 2011 Susan Pruden

* DATA SOURCE: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS) NOTES: Properties not listed through this Multiple Listing Service are not reflected. The term “sales” represents ratified purchase contracts. Information is subject to revision.

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