NAR has published bad existing home sales data for years, association admits

Real estate and financial professionals that closely track the National Association of Realtors’ monthly existing-home sales data are in for a rude awakening. The New York Post reported that the association has admitted it has been reporting bad figures for every month since January 2007 and will revise four years worth of data downward starting next Wednesday.

The NAR attributed the bad data to a statistical glitch that counted some homes twice, along with population shifts and a decline in owners selling their own home.

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But the Post said the true problems with the figures are twofold: realtors categorizing contracts to buy as sales and using seasonally adjusted figures. Since the recession, the economy as a whole, and the national housing sales market, has escaped the regular yearly pattern for which seasonally adjusted figures are meant to compensate, according to the Post.

The bad data is jarring because financial markets rise and fall with the real estate market, and the Federal Reserve and Congress set real estate policy based in part on existing sales data. [Post]