It’s been said that numbers don’t lie – or do they? I love statistics. Heck, I worked as a molecular biologist in mammalian genetics. I defy anyone to find a scientific discipline that is more reliant on solid statistical analysis than that!
But…. as anyone in the sciences will tell you – statistics are only as valid as the data they are measuring. I saw more than my share of deceptive creative uses of statistical models. In the science/engineering disciplines “peer review” holds these “creative types” accountable and by and large it does an excellent job. In fact this is often where the rubber meets the road for most of the junk popular pseudo-scientists who whine that they can’t get published.
Phil Faranda wrote a blog about REALTOR stats being open to the public. He sighted a post from Agent Genius about how when the Houston Association of Realtors started disclosing these stats – agent protest caused the program to be discontinued.
Part of me is tempted to like such disclosure. On a positive note – it certainly would throw a monkey wrench into people using Trulia and Zillow to become premier area “experts” so long as they are willing pull out the plastic. Never mind that they may have nary a closing or listing in the zip code for over a year.
The critical question that every home buyer/seller has to ask themselves when looking at all this number crunching is simple: What do these stats tell me about this agent or this brokerages ability to sell my home or help my buy a home?
This may sound pretty easy – but its not.
When I was getting my license and looking for brokerages I found to my surprise that they all claimed to be the #1 brokerage in the area. The question was #1 for what?
All could have earned an A++ in Statistical BS 101.
They had used some much pretzel logic in their number crunching that I truly had to admire their ability to be deceptive creative use of numbers.
Last year Westchester Magazine published their definition of Westchester’s top agents. It was based exclusively on gross sales volume. I wrote a blog based on their stats regarding how we define “success in the real estate market. They ignored expired listings, cancellations, the fact that most of these people had large teams of agents working for them. Their numbers were in effect – useless for the average seller looking for a listing agent or you typical buyer.
“I have over 100 listings!” Friendly translation – I throw anything and everything against the wall to see what sticks. Please don’t ask me about my sales stats.
“I have $15 million in gross sales!” Friendly Translation – I’ve done this over a 15 year period! or I slept with someone and sold one property worth $15 million.
“I sold over 100 homes last year!” Friendly translation – My BROKERAGE with 50 agents under sold over 100 homes collectively. Don’t ask how many agents it took to achieve that number.
“I personally sold 22 properties last year!” Friendly Translation – That’s what I sold but I’ve got about 80 listings littering the expired and cancelled list on the MLS.
Statistics are too easily distorted/misrepresented. Also I note that on that post the people who were “all for it” were those for whom those particular stats would favor…hmmmm. I bet if you looked “under the hood” at what the stats actually meant on an agent by agent basis – some of them wouldn’t look as good as they do on paper.
© Ruthmarie G. Hicks – https://thewestchesterview.com. All rights reserved.
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