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No, Oklahoma City is not one of ‘America's 10 Sickest Housing Markets'

The report is a house built on statistical sand. The numbers are too soft to say anything, let alone anything as drastic as Oklahoma City is “essentially dead as far as real estate prices and sales activity are concerned” and is one of “America's ten sickest housing markets.”
by Richard Mize Published: August 6, 2011

Oklahoma City is not one of “America's 10 Sickest Housing Markets,” no matter what you might have seen on the Internet.

An online “financial news and opinion operation” linked to everything from Yahoo to AOL, MSN Money, and the Wall Street Journal Online fired off the snarky list Wednesday and it ricocheted everywhere, worrying some people and angering others.

Hot air. Burned my hide.

Three reporters took “a new look at the housing market to find the very weakest cities by identifying those with the highest homeowner vacancy rates and rental vacancy rates ... where demand has clearly collapsed ... where the requirement for living space has dropped well below the national average. ... Their economies were damaged long before the recession.”

Does that sound like Oklahoma City? No.

What they said

The online reporters, using census data, started by ranking the top 75 largest metro areas with the highest homeowner vacancy rate and rental vacancy rate in the second quarter. The Census survey showed Oklahoma City's homeowner vacancy rate at 5.2 percent and its rental vacancy rate at 9.6 percent.

“Obviously,” they wrote, “these levels of unused inventory have the effect of driving down both home and rental prices month after month. It also means that there is comparatively little demand for the purchase of new or existing homes. These ten markets are essentially dead as far as real estate prices and sales activity are concerned. These are America's ten sickest housing markets.”

Well, no.

What they didn't say

Here's what they didn't tell anyone, and it's critical since they based the rest of their analysis and conclusions on those vacancy rates.

That homeowner vacancy rate of 5.2 percent was based on a sample with 90 percent confidence intervals of 2.8. The rental vacancy rate of 9.6 percent was based on a sample with 90 percent confidence intervals of 5.1.

Please don't let your eyes glaze over. This is the main reason to dismiss the methodology and conclusions of “America's 10 Sickest Housing Markets.”

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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