In today’s world, we are often over – loaded with statistics, data, etc. Some of these might be relevant and significant, while at other times, they may be over – reaching, misleading, or unnecessary! We often hear or read discussions regarding mortgage interest rates, so – called – housing starts, number of mortgage applications, and the number of houses on the market, etc. Often, discussions focus on seeming to need to label the real estate market, either as a buyers or seller market! While there may be times these are valuable indicators and information, like most data, the skill is in how well one can interpret these, understand them, know what the numbers really mean, and how to use them. Let’s review 4 examples of how statistics are related to real estate, etc.
1. Average or median price: The first thing to understand is the difference between an average and a median price. Average means one adds up all houses sold in the specific target region, and dividing by the number of sales. Median, on the other hand, is listing all the sales prices, and the one in the 50 percentile, is the median price. Simply stated assume 10 houses sold are reviewed, and 2 are sold at $500,000; 2 at $600,000; 1 at $750,000; 2 at $900,000; 2 at $1 million; and one at $1.5 million. In this sampling, the average price is $757,000 and the median price is $750,000. However, why is this information important, since if the sampling is not large enough, wouldn’t it depend on which specific houses sold, whether there was more strength at the higher or lower end of the market, etc. When pricing is discussed, it’s important to put it into perspective, and see the number of units compared in both periods of time.
2. Housing starts: This refers to number of new builds in an area, but doesn’t it make sense, to also consider how much empty or available land/ property, might be available to build on. Always put all statistics into some sort of perspective!
3. Mortgage applications: Are these predominantly for new mortgages or refinances? Are they conventional mortgages? Might it also be important to look at the term of the mortgages? Shouldn’t we also look at the criteria being used, and how many/ what percentage, are approved?
4. Houses on market: It is generally considered a buyer’s market when there are significantly more houses on market, than buyers, and a seller’s market, when circumstances are reversed? Look at the inventory of houses being offered, and the locales. How long do they seem to be staying on the market?
Like in most things statistics – related, it is important to know and evaluate what things mean, rather than making false assumptions, and/ or speculating. Beware of statistics, because they might turn out to either be your friend, or enemy!