How much, exactly, were home sales up in January?
January home sale figures came out yesterday morning, but it wasn't until well into the afternoon that I knew what the numbers actually were.
The first set I saw said 25 percent more homes sold compared with a year earlier in the Baltimore metro area. But wait -- elsewhere on the website run by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems' stats arm was an area profile that pegged the increase at 23 percent. So I called for clarification and was eventually shipped over a third set of numbers showing a 15 percent increase.
And the percentage change on that one was calculated wrong.
Oh, my aching head.
RealEstate Business Intelligence said it was opening-day glitches after a massive switchover from an old sales-statistics database to a new one, which is slicing the multiple-listing-service numbers in ways we couldn't get at before. Interested in how many homes were snapped up in 10 days or less? Now you can find that out.
"We recalculated everything this month for the past 13 years," said Margaret O'Sullivan, vice president of operations at RBI. "Before, it wasn’t queryable. It was like a big spreadsheet. ... In order to be more dynamic going forward, we had to go through these pains."
One of the differences sharp-eyed readers will notice is that figures for past months have changed.
That's partly because RBI is categorizing things differently: Pending sales with contingencies in the contracts, i.e. "I'll buy your home if I sell mine," are no longer also counted in the active-listing number.
In addition, you'll see that sales totals are higher or, in some cases, lower. Why? Frequently, agents add some sales information to the multiple-listing service after the company takes its monthly statistics snapshot. And sometimes agents take back sales that were recorded in the system in error (or with the wrong date). Now that RealEstate Business Intelligence has recalculated the last 13 years of figures, what you see picks up on all those after-the-fact changes.
December home sales, originally posted as an 8 percent increase over the year, are now showing up as zero change. That makes January's gain the first since the post-tax-credit swoon.
Thoughts on the database switch? Please share.