Interpreting housing statistics.
Sure, you know it. But you forget. So let me remind you that numbers can lie sometimes, and words can lie all the time, so please don’t take every housing statistic you read at face value.
Let’s say, for instance, that you’ve just read that “housing prices in this neighborhood have plunged 2%, the greatest drop since 2001.” Before you go hiding under the bed, ask yourself : is 2% really a plunge? If a 150-pound woman lost 3 pounds, would she shriek, “Yay! My weight is plunging!”? No, she would not. But reporters happy to hype up a story use the ol’ plunge-and-soar verbs all the time.
And that’s another thing. What area are those statistics talking about? National home prices are less meaningful if all you care about is that one townhouse at the corner of 3rd and Market. Figures that include both condos and single family homes, when all you’d ever want is a condo, aren’t so relevant to you. It’s also wise not to over-react to the “since such-and-such-a-date” part of a statistic. It adds some dimension to the numbers, but it can also be stretched to the point of absurdity, as in “Mom, I’m starving, it’s 1:30 and I haven’t eaten since lunch.”
Keep your sense of humor. Hang on to your perspective. Yes, these are challenging times in the housing market, but they’re made worse by media slants, twists, turns and melodrama. Seen a good example of it lately? I’d like to hear.