Monday, March 21, 2011

Were Home Sales Statistics Truthful?

It's bad enough how many realty associations and industry organizations are adding fuel to the fire with the barrage of negative home sales statistics in this marketplace.

Now comes word that this might become a credibility issue as well. A Southern California based real estate data firm, CoreLogic, has issued a report claiming that the National Association of Realtors appears to have overstated sales of existing homes by as much as 20% over the past five years.

This puts a double whammy on the recent statistics. Many realty associations have been releasing data showing the drops in home sales with comparative statistics. These, of course, put the various local markets in a bad light. So if it indeed turns out that the earlier statistics (1 year ago, 2 years ago, etc.) were actually inflated, it means that home sales have been sluggish for even longer than these associations would have the public believe.

Now this is close to becoming a credibility issue totally separate from such a struggling market. The NAR shouldn't have to utilize its resources for crisis management while the very market it serves is in a crisis.

It has been too soon since the tragedy in Japan hit for us to realize how that is also another blow to the U.S. real estate market as well. Estimates are already coming that it will take upwards of five years to rebuild Japan. With the technology and innovations which have come from that country, I have to believe that international investors will be ready with funding to make sure it happens. That is funding which might otherwise be put into commercial properties and real estate related investing here in the U.S.

On the other side, think back to the early 90's and the California real estate boom. That "boom" was brought on in part due to overseas investors paying above and beyond the asking prices for upscale and high end homes in both Northern and Southern California. For many Japanese investors, high end homes in California were then a bargain compared with home prices in Japan at that time, even at inflated prices here in the States.

Now, especially with the incredible disaster facing Japan and the world, any such international activity in the United States is out of the question. Another blow to the U.S. market.

As much as I dislike using negative statistics in this marketplace (although I'm not representing a realty association in doing so), this is already showing up.

This past weekend, the Orange County Register (So. California) reported on the total sales for February 2011 as well as the first half of March for "luxury homes" (millions of dollars) in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach totaled: zero. After there were sales during January.

If only the focus could turn to how to get properties sold, instead of what the statistics should show.

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