One of the more surprising stats in the latest residential home-sales data released yesterday by the Houston Association of Realtors, Swamplot’s numbers expert is kind enough to point out, is a whopping almost 40 percent drop in the number of listings that were active last January. Whazzat mean? That there were 40 percent fewer active listings this January than in January 2010? No, it’s screwier than that: The latest HAR report says that there were almost 40 percent fewer active listings in January 2010 than their own reports told us a year ago. Revising last year’s numbers down so dramatically, of course, makes it a whole lot easier for the local real-estate organization to announce at least one piece of news in this month’s press release: Listings are up 13.7 percent over this time last year!
But the new report doesn’t mention any adjustments. And it makes similar — though less dramatic — changes to last year’s data in several other categories.
Here’s a snapshot of the numbers from last year’s report. Keep your eye on that January 2010 column:
And presto change-o! Here’s the data from HAR’s latest press release. Yeah, in retrospect, 2010 didn’t start off quite so well as we all thought it had:
All of which makes it a bit difficult to . . . uh, follow some of the organization’s other claims about the market. For example, this statement:
Despite the increase in sales volume, growth in available housing pushed the January inventory of single-family homes to 7.3 months compared to 6.1 months one year earlier.
Is the 6.1 months figure — one of the few numbers not to have changed from one report to the next — based on the 45,210 active listings reported at the time, or the newly revised figure of 27,465? “It does not look good from a statistical integrity perspective,” our contributor deadpans. And notes the changes also in last year’s median and average sales prices:
They moved lower! This makes the yearly % gain look better. I have never in the 3 years of [following this data] seen a prior number move. It could be updated or better data. I certainly could have missed something.
Here is the kicker –and January is always a weak pricing month, so you can’t read too much into it…. but WOW. The Chronicle should run with a headline: Houston Home Prices, Sales Nosedive!
Median Home Sales Price Dives 11.7% in one month! Average Sales Price 11.2% lower in only one month!
Well, okay, the value of any individual home did not plummet 10% in a month. The numbers were skewed by a gusher of sales in the under $80,000 category that brings down the average and the median. And it is not all bad news. Luxury homes sales (above $500,000) are up 17.6%
Here’s our contributor’s 3-month-average chart tracking movement in home prices and sales volume:
And, after a year long hiatus…… they started reporting foreclosure activity again. So we can spend 9 months trying to fill this graph in again!!! January is a peak time for foreclosure activity . . .