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Gloom & Doom Media

March 26, 2008

More sensationalism and innacurate reporting from the Seattle Times (& Associated Press)!

The media is driving me crazy! All we ever get from these people is gloom & doom. And while there are things to be concerned about regarding the nation’s housing market and the economy in general, things here aren’t nearly as bad as elsewhere. It seems that we are guilty by association.

See this article from today’s Seattle Times:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004306599_homeprices26.html

I’m not saying things are really great here but they are better that what we are led to believe. January’s numbers were bad (quite frankly they are never that great to begin with). It makes sense that a national market that is doing very badly would look abominable in what is traditionally one of its two worst months. Nationally the numbers are quite frightening (-10.7% drop in median home prices over January the previous year). In our neck of the woods the number was wrongly reported as being -1.3% under last year, it was actually up 1.3% (Median 1/2008 $435,000 vs. Median 1/2007 $429,495) making the whole article pointless! This just goes to prove that you should not listen to the national media when it comes to your local market!

One of the things that chaps my hide is that these stories are written based on a very limited amount of time (for a larger statistical look at King County over the past few years see my blog entry from February 7th). Another, and quite frankly, larger issue is the fact that the media isn’t provided with or doesn’t use all the statistics available (or as in this case doesn’t fact check). They only pull from median home sales numbers (median numbers are those that are the exact middle in a categorical). The truth is that there are also statistics for average price in home sales. I believe you have to look at both of these to get the whole picture of what is going on.

 

For example, the median home price in February 08′ ($429,900) was barely less than the median price for February 07′ ($429,925) with a difference of -.01% (that’s 1/100th of a percent), so we had a virtually flat market if you look strictly at the median numbers.

 

By comparison, the average sold price (the number averaged out from all home sales) for February 08′ ($531,448) was up 3.6% over the average sold price for February 07′ ($512,520).

 

What does this tell us?

 

That the media bases its information on what 1 house sold for one year vs. what another house sold for the previous year just because those houses happen to land in the exact center of their prospective lists. In other words, every month “experts” are looking at a total of two sales to tell them what the market is doing! Is that not madness?

 

If the media has access (& I’m not sure that they do) to the average home sale numbers wouldn’t it be just as easy to report King County Average Home Sales Up 3.6%”?

Don’t buy the hype. Things here aren’t great but they seem to be improving and they’re not as bad as the poorly informed would have you believe.

 

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