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Home sales were worse than it thought, Realtors group says

December 22, 2011|By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times

The National Assn. of Realtors has revised sharply downward the number of homes it calculated were sold from 2007 to 2010, revealing a much weaker housing market than it had estimated.

For 2010 alone, the trade group revised its estimate of home sales 14.6% lower than what it had previously reported — to about 4.2 million homes.

Overall, sales and inventory reported by the group were reduced by 14.3% for 2007 through 2010, the association said Wednesday. The group gave several reasons for the revisions, including some sales that had been counted multiple times. Roughly half the revisions, the group said, resulted from a decrease in people selling their own homes; these people turned to real estate agents to sell those properties for them as the housing market turned bleak in 2007.

Homes sold by owners are typically not counted by the local listing services tracked by the national real estate group, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the group, said in a statement.

On the same day the group altered its past years' figures, it released previously owned home sales numbers for last month that showed sales increased 4% from October to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.42 million. That was a jump of 12.2% from November 2010.

The revisions underscored a lack of data on the housing market. There is no government tally of home sales nationally. Instead, officials rely on private real estate groups to provide sales numbers. The government does publish an estimate of new-home sales and starts.

Discrepancies in the real estate group's figures were pointed out this year by the Santa Ana firm CoreLogic Inc.

alejandro.lazo@latimes.com

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