Did we say increase? We meant decrease
Walter Molony, a spokesman for the trade group, told me today that a typo in the seasonal adjustment factor -- what statisticians use to try to account for variations in behavior from season to season -- caused the error.
"It's really unprecedented, but nevertheless, pretty embarrassing," he said. (He said both the NAR and New Jersey agents noticed the problem independently. You can find the corrected numbers on NAR's site, though I saw no press release about it.)
There's increasing skepticism about housing numbers -- and concern about tampering -- as the market continues to slump. I mentioned this to Molony, who said the NAR barely touched on state sales in its first-quarter press release and didn't point to New Jersey at all. Instead, it focused on metro-area prices.
"The state sales number we thought was kind of a yawn because everybody knows they're down; they're down almost everywhere," he said. "It was just a data table that we made available."
Maryland's sales figure wasn't affected, he added. The NAR reported the drop here was nearly 40 percent.
Thanks to a keen-eyed Wonk reader for noticing the New Jersey brouhaha.