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Some real estate statistics require a side order of salt — or at least context

Sometimes you just can't trust the real estate statistics. It helps to be able to place the details into context with reality.
by Richard Mize Published: January 14, 2012

Are the only reliable numbers out there in the Bible between Leviticus and Deuteronomy?

It seems that way to me sometimes — and even that Numbers takes lots and lots of context.

It hit me again this week when we dutifully reported that Oklahoma ranked No. 32 among the states in foreclosure rates last year, according to RealtyTrac in Irvine, Calif.

RealtyTrac said 12,016 homes, or 0.73 percent of Oklahoma housing units, had at least one foreclosure filing in 2011 — down 32.2 percent from 2010 and down 7.1 percent from 2009.

That's good news. Here's some context, which we also always report: RealtyTrac tracks foreclosures in 33 of Oklahoma's 77 counties, not all, and in more than 2,200 counties across the country, but not all 3,143 (or is it 3,141? Wikipedia, admittedly not the best source, is unsure).

Here's some more context, which sometimes gets lost in the blur of the news: RealtyTrac's main business is as an online marketplace for foreclosed houses. So it has a direct interest. I am not saying there is a conflict. Because we all know numbers don't lie — cough. But I can't help but wonder.

Not to shine the light on RealtyTrac unduly. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index is trumpeted every month all over the country as if it gauged home prices all over the country. It does not. The S&P/Case Shiller index does not include data from 13 states and it has incomplete coverage of 29 states, including Oklahoma.

But what really gets me is one main report from S&P/Case-Shiller actually tracks home price changes in just 10 metropolitan areas. Another one looks at 20 metro areas — but it's still limited data. Neither includes Oklahoma City. Keep that in mind the next time you see or read anyone making claims or drawing conclusions from S&P/Case-Shiller about Oklahoma.

Then there was this: Last summer, a poorly researched and methodologically unsound report by an online “financial news and opinion operation” zipped around the Internet claiming to call out “America's 10 Sickest Housing Markets.” It actually included Oklahoma City.

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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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