Gap in data on 2010 homes sales

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is re-examining its existing-home sales estimates after questions have been raised about how it derives its numbers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. NAR may have overstated the number of homes sold going back to 2007, the article said.

The discrepancy arose when NAR reported that 4.9 million previously owned homes were sold in the United States in 2010, a decrease of 5.7% from 2009. CoreLogic, a real estate analytics firm based in Santa Ana, Calif., counted 3.3 million -- a 10.8% drop.

The bigger decrease means a larger backlog of unsold homes on the market that compete with new housing sales.

CoreLogic bases its estimates on property records through local courthouses. The NAR primarily uses a sample of sales data reported by local multiple-listing services. But consolidation among these services may have resulted in over-counting, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Yun told the Wall Street Journal that CoreLogic may have understated the number of existing homes sold last year, but said the NAR is re-examining its data.   

The newspaper also reported that several economists approached the NAR last year with concerns about its sales modeling, and the group promised to study the issue on a December conference call with representatives from the Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and CoreLogic.  

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