The Problem with Real Estate Reporting

I was browsing Google News this morning and came across the headline combo you see below:

The Problem with Real Estate Reporting

What a perfect example of the problem with most real estate reporting. Same data, polar opposite headlines. Reporters telling the story they want to tell, regardless of what is actually going on in the market.

So did pending sales “rise substantially,” as claimed by Inman News, or did they “drop” as claimed in the San Francisco Chronicle’s headline sound bite?

As readers of these pages likely already know, they were down month-over-month and up year-over-year, but the critical piece of context to that YOY rise is that in July of last year pending sales were in the midst of the major post-tax-credit hangover. Of course you won’t find any mention of this fact in the Inman story that trumpets the “substantial” rise.

The worst part is that most people’s perception of what’s happening in the housing market comes exclusively from shoddy reporting like this.

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1
    The Tim says:

    P.S. – This post was written entirely one-handed, with a baby in my other arm.

  2. 2
    Still Anonymous says:

    …and yet it still was 1000 times better than “mainstream media” reporting.

  3. 3
    Scotsman says:

    RE: The Tim @ 1

    Nice! Congrats!

  4. 4
    3rd Generation says:

    Truth is Treason
    in the
    Empire of LIES.

  5. 5
    Lurker says:

    RE: The Tim @ 1

    I don’t remember any babies being in the swag bag at PAX this year? Yikes, I better double check mine.

  6. 6
    patient says:

    RE: The Tim @ 1 – Awesome, big congrats!

  7. 7
    Simon says:

    Congratulations Tim!!

  8. 8
    The Tim says:

    RE: Lurker @ 5 – Hah! No, not PAX swag. ;^)

    We went down to CA a few weeks ago when she was born and came back with her a little over a week ago. If anybody is wondering why posting has been a little lightweight and somewhat sporadic the last few weeks, wonder no longer. Multiple stressful trips to CA plus a brand new baby at home.

  9. 9
    ARDELL says:

    Congratulations Tim! What’s her name?

  10. 10
    Ray Pepper says:

    RE: The Tim @ 8

    WOW TIM!! Supercongrats!

    For a name may I suggest:


  11. 11
    HappyRenter says:

    And a pink pony for her first birthday!

    Joking aside, congratulations, Tim (and your wife)!

  12. 12
    The Tim says:

    RE: ARDELL @ 9 – Her name is Maezie Jacqueline Ellis.

  13. 13

    I think I posted a link a week or so ago to the San Fran Chronicle’s reporting of their local mean and median numbers. It was far superior to any reporting I’ve seen locally, giving a ton of detail.

    Oh, and congrats Tim!

  14. 14
    Peter Witting says:

    Wonderful news! Congratulations, Tim!

  15. 15

    On the topic of reporting, I love how they’re saying the increase in the market today was because Irene wasn’t such a bad hurricane. Yep, I’m sure that helped the entire market, for many different types of stocks having nothing to do with insurers, and had nothing at all to do with the consumer sales figures which were released today.

  16. 16
    NewHomeOwnerInFremont says:

    Congrats Tim—a memorable year for you so far, I’m sure.

  17. 17

    Awesome news, Tim! Welcome to the world of parenting.

  18. 18
    ARDELL says:

    RE: The Tim @ 12

    Love that name, Tim! May she bring you both all the joy that my little girls and grand girls have brought to me. Maezie is such a fun name. She’s going to love it when she gets old enough to spell it. :)

  19. 19
    David Losh says:

    It does change everything. It’s the most fun you will ever have.

  20. 20
    David Losh says:

    Inman News is a crock. It’s a sales site for really bad agents, and clueless advertisers.

  21. 21

    I LOVE THE NAME MAISY….Maezie and wanted to name my 14 y.o. that but it was vetoed. COOLEST NAME EVER!! Congratulations to you and Jen. Your lives will never be the same again, LOL!

  22. 22

    Pictures! Post some pics, Tim.

  23. 23
    No Name Guy says:

    Congrats Tim.

    And yet another example of how obtuse most journalists are.

  24. 24
    YetAnotherTim says:

    Congrats, Tim!

  25. 25
    Real World Express says:

    Rule of statistics.

    Don’t use time as an axis.

  26. 26
    Cheap South says:

    Congrats Tim. And I will borrow a couple of quotes from above. ” Welcome to the world of Parenting” and “Your lives will never be the same”. No books can prepare you for what’s coming. And by now you probably have noticed; they do not include an owner’s manual!!!

    Congrats again!!!

  27. 27
    New Parent says:

    Congrats. Time to start seattle education bubble?

  28. 28
    tomtom says:

    I guess all that time web surfing with one hand has finally paid off.


  29. 29
    One Eyed Man says:

    Congratulations Tim, to you, your spouse and to Maezie! And thank you. You are part of an unfortunately too small group of people who help to restore my faith in humanity.

  30. 30
    Cher says:

    Big congratulations to you and your wife, Tim!! I’m surprised you got a chance to go out to PAX! ;)

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