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I’ve stumbled onto a Sunshine Coast Realtor© January 28, 2015 blog post that included the image below. Now, how would you interpret this data?

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1060]

This is a simple vertical bar chart, right? Along the top it says “Office” and “Numbers of MLS Sales for 2014” and then we have 8 Sunshine Coast Realty Offices vertically listed each with a coloured bar followed by a number to the right of the bar. Now, how do you interpret those numbers? How many “Numbers of MLS Sales for 2014” did each office have?

I’m thinking Re/Max Oceanview Sechelt has 430 “Numbers of MLS Sales for 2014”; Royal Lepage Sussex Sechelt had 306; Sutton Gibsons had 287; and, so on. Is that what you’re thinking?

Now, if we add up all those numbers we get 430+306+287+182+138+76+29+29=1,477.

This should represent the total “Numbers of MLS Sales for 2014”, right? Am I thinking this through correctly? Ya gotta help me with this because if this is true it’s a stunning number for the Sunshine Coast given that the previous all-time high was set back in 2005 with its 1,271 total MLS sales. Ya gotta tell me if I’m crazy here because the 2014 total that I’m seeing is almost half that figure and I’m not alone in my calculation. So, tell me – did I do this right?

Wait...hold the phone...a light bulb just lit up. Do you think those numbers might actually represent the number of MLS listings for each of those Sunshine Coast Realty offices? Is that what Realtor© Valarie Green did – confuse listings for sales in that January 28, 2015 blog post. You know, I do think so. You see I have total SC active listings peaking on July 29, 2014 at 1,456 and Gary Little admits his interactive real estate map may not include all realty listings.

Yep, I think that’s what happened. Darn, I was getting all set to party.
I thought something else when I looked at the high total number. I wonder if it counts potentially 2 offices for a single transaction if the selling agent and buyers agent use different realtors.
e.g. Remax Oceanview lists a house for sale and Royal Lepage Sussex represents the buyer and maybe both offices get to claim the transaction?

Regardless of all this, look at the bar chart for 3rd and 4th place. There is 105 sales difference between them but their bar graphs are almost identical. Looks as if it is supposed to be *187* and 182 for those offices, not 287 as listed.
(02-06-2015, 01:51 PM)Philpout Wrote: [ -> ]I wonder if it counts potentially 2 offices for a single transaction if the selling agent and buyers agent use different realtors.
e.g. Remax Oceanview lists a house for sale and Royal Lepage Sussex represents the buyer and maybe both offices get to claim the transaction?

Well, Philpout, given the “arcane” nature of real estate statistics anything and everything is possible...LOL. Well, that’s the conclusion I’ve reached anyways after two years of reading monthly board reports and Realtor© interpretations.

(02-06-2015, 01:51 PM)Philpout Wrote: [ -> ]Looks as if it is supposed to be *187* and 182 for those offices, not 287 as listed.

Good catch – you're probably right. Guess we can look on that as a goof within a goof.

By the way, after your post, I did a check and the Green Thompson Group has now removed the chart from that January 28th posting. Therefore, we can definitely conclude that the chart and its data did not, in fact, represent “Numbers of MLS Sales for 2014.”
I don't believe that these creative statistics were unintentional.
I wonder, dmoney. As SC Realtors©, they should have a good idea of the sales stats coming out of at the very least their own Realty office. If it was a mistake, it was a very silly one.

In my opinion as "professionals", they have a responsibility to ensure their data and charts are accurate before making such information public. Also as "professionals", they should have admitted in their January 28th blog post that they erred in that chart rather than just remove it and pretend it was never posted.
I’m starting to organize my 2015 Sunshine Coast real estate sales data (yes, I'm really late) and I thought it might be catchy to lead things off with local Realtor© predictions for the new year. So, I went on the hunt yesterday for any interesting blog entries that might fit the bill. The pickings were slim; however, I did find one blog post that caught my eye.

Fran Miller works out of the Re/Max Top Performers office in Gibsons and I check her website every few weeks or so for any new ‘Foreclosures’ info. She’s the only SC real estate agent I know off who makes that info available on their website. Being a teaser page, it’s far from an extensive list, but I have found a few properties I wasn’t aware of.

Anyways,she has an attached blog which I have never checked, but yesterday I did and there were two postings for 2015 – both on February 4th. The first post titled ‘Market Update Sunshine Coast: Good News’ began with “Sales have gone up on the Coast in 2014.” Well, I figured this might be just what I was looking for and besides I like reading “good news” so I clicked on “read more”. Here is Fran’s complete post (the bold highlighting is her own)...

Quote:Sales have gone up on the Coast in 2014. Coast wide there was a 21% increase in the number of sales overall for 2014 over 2013. Single family detached home sales numbers were up 23% over the year before, and condo/townhouses up 16% over 2013.

Prices have also remained fairly stable - Detached homes are up 1% over the year previous. Attached sales - condos and townhouses - are down 3% for the overall down 1% coast wide all sales price change. [Skook Note: this is what is written and I have no idea what it means either.]

The HPI, or Home Price Index (which measure general single-family house prices and is used to look for trends in the market) is on the rise since last year at this time.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1083]

Taken over the last 8 years though, you see where we still have a ways to go to catch up to pre-Summer 2008 prices.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1084]

Vancouver and local Coast neighbourhoods coming soon.

Now, the other day, I posted a 'Sunshine Coast - 2014 Real Estate Market Summary' so those percentages at the beginning of Fran’s post caught my eye. My post included SC Realtor Gary Little’s year-end data and he shows a 26% increase in 2014 total sales vs 2013. I also mentioned in my summary post that I had other Realtor© year-end reports so I looked at them again and pulled their 2013 data numbers to create this table:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1085]

As we can see, the percentage change in total sales varies from 19.1% up to 25.8% depending on whose report we’re looking at. I can’t give an REBGV total sales figure because the board never reports land sales in its monthly sales stats package. As for the percentage change in 2014 detached home sales vs 2013, we go from 22.2% up to the board’s own 28.6%. The board’s figures are the year-end totals given on December’s 'MLS Sales Facts' sheet. We have no idea how Fran derived those percentage change figures because she doesn’t state her year-end totals. Isn't this an interesting table?

Those graphs in Fran’s post caught my eye, too. Seeing that rise in single family house prices really made an impression until I looked at the vertical axis labels and saw just $2,000 increments. So, we’re talking a span here of only $12,000 over the whole year.

Now, I plot the MLS HPI detached benchmark price every month with my sales stat report here at VanPeak. My graph doesn’t look like this because its over a far longer time frame – 4 years plus. I decided to take just the 2014 data and make a smaller graph and see how it compares to Fran’s. Here my data table and graph...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1086]

Hmmm, doesn’t quite match that nice steady rise of Fran’s graph does it. Mine shows a sharp increase in the spring months, a flattening out over summer with one quick jump in July followed by an August dip (the really hot summer month on the coast) and then a slight decrease in the fall months and all this over a $24,000 price span – double Fran’s.

When I saw this difference, I asked, “Right, where did Fran get her graph?” Well, there is info below the graph and from that I deduce this graph is a “snap shot” taken from the second graph as it says “Each data point is 12 months of activity.” It also says, “Data is from February 4, 2015” which tells me that was the day Fran grabbed it from whatever source she used. Also I can read “Data from BCNREB, CADREB, FVREB and REBGV.” Well, I know the last two but not the first two – time to google. Okay, this result shows BCNREB is likely the BC Northern Real Estate Board and the CADREB is likely the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board. So, this tells me Fran is grabbing this chart from some entity that pools real estate data that she, as a real estate agent, can pull from.

Now, from my own knowledge as a former business website owner, I did a right click on her graph image and via my Firefox menu clicked on “View image info” and highlighted in the pop-up dialog box I see this:

So, this image does come from the REBGV but that graph doesn’t look like mine. So, I wondered if perhaps Fran used the MLS HPI ‘Residential/Composite’ Benchmark Price by mistake which also appears in the board’s monthly sales stats package. The residential/composite price is derived from all residential sales within the market. Here is what that data would look like for the Sunshine Coast...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1087]

Nope, she didn’t use that data which basically follows the same trajectory as the single detached benchmark price. So, what data was used in Fran’s graph? Unfortunately, I don’t think Fran could answer that question either and here is why I say that.

I want you to open up a new tab in your browser. Now, copy and paste into the location bar Fran’s graph image url...

Use your backspace bar to remove all the stuff to the right of the “.org” (be sure to leave that) and then hit your enter button. You should end up at this webpage...

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1088]

Now, click on the black arrow inside that “Board/Association” box and in the drop down menu you will see listed every real estate board and related association in Canada. So, what is this? It’s a portal link and if you are real estate agent in good standing (all dues paid) and a member of a real estate board you get to use this to access a vast databank (CREA’s) shared by all the boards. As a Realtor, you can log in and get all the stats you want (local, regional and national) and use those stats to prepare reports that you can then post to your blog and website or give to your clients. So, that’s obviously what Fran did back on that Wednesday in early February. She used what she was given and given the source was the REBGV probably didn’t think any more about it and why should she?


Now this thread isn’t about Fran Miller and it isn’t about Valarie Green. So, why am I doing this? What has motivated me to create this thread?

I could be flippant and say, “Because I can”, but that is not the reason. Am I doing this to slam real estate agents? The answer is no. I am doing this because my college and university education taught me to be a critical thinker. Therefore, I do not take what I read at face value and I do not assume that an author knows what they are talking about – he, she or they have to prove it. Therefore, when I read something I do three things:
  • Firstly, I check the author’s credentials. Does their education/background enable me to accept they know what they are talking about?
  • Secondly, I sit back and ask myself, "Does what I read make sense in light of what I know or have read elsewhere?"
  • Thirdly, I check for sources. Is the author offering support for what they say (or show)?

With academic articles, support would be through footnotes and bibliographies. In this instance above, if the data and/or graphs are not the author’s own then am I told where they come from? If I know the source(s), I can then decide if it is to be trusted and in many cases can go to that source and do my own research if I so choose.

So, my motivation is this: to say that buying or selling a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your lifetime; therefore, be a critical thinker when it comes to sales stats and market reports regardless of the source. Real estate agents do the best they can in a very competitive and (due to technology) quickly changing work environment. When they prepare their reports and posts, the vast majority does so with the best of intentions but they too should apply critical thinking, but may be too busy or too tired to do so; thus, you may need to do it for them.

So, here’s test. As a critical thinker, how would you approach the following document if you were looking to buy a home and saw this posted on a real estate agent’s website? What goes through your mind? What questions could/should you ask yourself?

[Image: attachment.php?aid=1089]

(Note: In my image editing, I only removed the Realty firm’s logo and its website/email address from the bottom of the document.)