Over the years, I have been a fairly consistent critic of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). I have accused them of being drunk, hallucinating, cheerleaders of the RE sector, regardless of the reality. I have savaged their inane promotional stunts — Recall “Its always a good time to generate a commission buy or sell a house!” (See this, this and this).
My criticism about the NAR was about the nonsensical commentary that always seem to accompany their data. I never had cause to challenge their actual reporting of Real Estate sales.
CoreLogic, the property data aggregator, claims in a new report that “home sales fell more sharply last year than previously thought.” According to CoreLogic, statistics published by the National Association of Realtors overstate sales of existing homes by 15 to 20%.
That is the polite way to describe it; The NAR sales data showed that residential RE sales fell 5%, but according to CoreLogic’s data, the fall was actually 12%.
There are different methodologies used, and that could account for some of the different figures. The NAR bases their sales data on multiple listing services and large brokerage closings. They show in 2010, there were 4.9 million existing home sales — a drop of about 5%. CoreLogic collects data from public sales records via county recorders and courts; they estimate that there were only 3.6 million home sales — a drop of 12%.
The impact of this could be substantial. Consider inventory — using CoreLogic;s methodology, unsold inventory in November 2010 was16 months of supply, not the 9.5 months the NAR claimed.