Thursday, October 25, 2007

The NAR Report: What wasn't reported

At times like this, I recall my Tulane University statistics professor's famous mantra: "It's about the data!" [Hi Russ!]

Yesterday, I posted a link to a NY Times article reporting that the National Association of Realtor's analysis of existing homes sales in September showed an 8% drop in sales compared to August. Well, they [the NY Times] didn't tell the full story. NAR states that, nationally, seasonally adjusted sales data year over year (YoY) showed:

  • Unit sales dropped 19.1%
  • Prices dropped 4.2%

Strip out seasonal adjustments and national sales data show:

  • Unit sales dropped 28.9% from August to September
  • Unit sales dropped 22.7% YoY
  • Prices dropped 3.2% YoY

In today's NY Times we read:

Global Insight, a research firm, predicts that the national average for housing prices will drop 5 percent over the next year and 10 percent before mid-2009, for a total of about $2 trillion. Economists at Goldman Sachs have predicted prices will drop by 15 percent, meaning an overall decline of more than $3 trillion; other forecasters have said the decline could be 20 percent or more.

NAR's explanation for its findings:

Temporary problems in the mortgage market are easing and are expected to free some pent-up demand, but disrupted existing-home sales and distorted prices on sales closed in September, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Even so, prices rose in the Northeast and Midwest.

Is this what they call "whistling past the graveyard?"

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