Wednesday, March 21, 2007

February Market Wrap

MAR and the Warren Group reported market stats for MA this week. For once their numbers were in reasonable agreement. See the Boston Globe for the overview (here). Below are plots of SFH and condo median prices, as reported by MAR for the past few years:

One thing that I have been noticing is that MAR is continually revising their stats from past months/years. I don't have the time to keep up with their changes, and they don't bother to report the changes when they make them, so I will have to acknowledge that the numbers I'm plotting are "as originally reported." The differences are typically small, so not too big of a deal I guess. Doesn't do much for my confidence. I plan to spend more time from now on using the S&P/Case-Shiller® Home Price Indices, which have a number of advantages (see previous post here).

Months inventory continued to run below year ago levels in February:
December/January were unusually warm, and mortgage rates dropped, likely contributing to unusual seasonal strength in Jan/Feb closings. In Feb the weather turned and rates rose, and I expect the March closings and months inventory will suffer by comparison to last March (which was relatively strong).


Louis said...

I have 20 years of mass data from warren if you want it... (sales and median)

ChrisAmigo said...

Maybe one of the reasons for the more "rosy" MAR projects is the way individual REALTORS manipulate the listing, expired and sold data in the MLS to make themselves and their repsective companies "look better" in the eyes of the public.

No one want sot be known as the REALTOR whose average market time is 200 plus days, so they manipulate the data in many ways. One example is to let the 90 day listing "expire" for a few days, then re-list it as a "new" listing. It works the same if a competitor gets the listing a few days after it has "expired" from the original broker, or two, or three.

Pricing is manipulated in much the same way, with "original" list prices re-valued on each relisting, almost always downwards. This way when it finally sells the spread between list price and sold price looks "closer" than what it indeed would be, if the entire market history of the property was viewed.

A better indicator of REAL market times and home prices is the "Market History" data available through subscription by REALTOR subscribers - NOT the public.

REALTORS and their sponsored MLS services have always been reluctant to disseminate this kind of data, erroneously believing this is the value they bring to the sales equation. I agree that for many this is the only value they bring, but for the ones that actually make a living in this business, they sell benefits of features, not just repeat facts.

Facts however are important to the principals in the process - buyers and sellers for both of them to make an informed "ready, willing and able" decision.

These are more reasons why the REALTOR organization keeps losing in stature and consumer acceptance. They always fight technology advances that help the principals they claim to serve. Witness the quick rise of: Zillow, Trulia, RedFin, etc. In addition there are many 3rd party services like the Warren Group that are more objective about the data. Tax record in many areas also are beginning to show property sales history online.

Nearly every attempt by REALTORS or their sponsored MLS' to keep their data private, or their marketing cartel uncompetitive has been broken by suit or threat of suit since the late 90's. Currently they are under the scrutiny of the Department of Justice for operating as a marketing cartel.

Despite their attempts to maintain their hold on this data, they have been losing ground consistently. When they finally get with the program - probably through enforcement, I think there wil likely be a lot less discrepancy in the kinds of housing data you now see reported.

thedannywelsh said...

I can totally agree with this post. As MAR continues to revise their stats from past months and years, no one seems to have the time to keep up with the changes.

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Kate Louise said...

It’s an informative post. You showed some amazing stats about prices of condo per square feet. I want to buy a condo in Torontoso I want to analyze the prices of different condos here.