Monday, April 03, 2006

Who Watches the Watchmen (aka Sacramento Bee)?

For those "bubble watchers" out there who thought the March 17th Sacramento Bee article was a bit too rosy, you were probably right. I've already discussed what I thought was curiously omitted from the article. However, the following are two problems that I believe are factual errors. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

Problem #1
The article stated:

After five straight months of falling sales prices for Sacramento County homes, values edged up slightly in February, signaling a potential rebound for the region's most populated county. The county's median price - the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less - climbed nearly 1 percent from January levels, reaching $355,000, the La Jolla research firm DataQuick reported Thursday. Sales prices in Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties also rose about 1 percent. That continued the upward momentum seen in all but El Dorado County since October and November. Home prices in El Dorado County fell in January after rising in November and December.
The highlighted line suggests that the median sales price in Yolo and Placer counties rose in January and December (and possibly November). The only problem is, that didn't happen. According, to previous Bee articles, the Placer County median (like El Dorado County) declined in January (by $39,500). The Yolo County median declined in December (by $26,500).

The only possible candidate for "continued...upward momentum" would be Yolo County's January & February increases. Of course, that would have to be labeled: "That continued the upward momentum seen in Yolo County alone since December."

The bottom line is this: there has been no "continued...upward momentum...since October and November" in Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, or Sacramento counties.

Placer County
Sep. 2005: $494,500
Oct. 2005: $487,750 [-6,750 from the prior month]
Nov. 2005: $480,000 [-7,750]
Dec. 2005: $485,000 [+5,000]
Jan. 2006: $445,500 [-39,500]
Feb. 2006: $461,000 [+15,500]

Yolo County
Sep. 2005: 431,000
Oct. 2005: 419,000 [-12,000]
Nov. 2005: 436,500 [+17,500]
Dec. 2005: 410,000 [-26,500]
Jan. 2006: 412,000 [+2,000]
Feb. 2006: 421,500 [+9,500]

Problem #2
While this is admittedly a minor error, it nonetheless weakens rather than strengthens the writer's "rebound" hypothesis.

The article said:
Regionally, February's 1,743 home sales - 65 more than January - began to reverse gloomy year-to-year trends of the past two months. Though sales were still 26 percent lower than February 2005, they improved on January's 29 percent year-to-year decline, and 31 percent in December, according to DataQuick.
The December regional sales figure was actually 30%. It looks like the author mistakenly inserted the Sacramento County figure instead of the regional number for December. Here's what the Bee previously said about December:
But offsetting the tighter market last month was a substantial decline - 30 percent - in sales compared with record resale activity in December 2004. The 2,392 homes that resold in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties in December was the lowest sales total for that month in four years, DataQuick Information Systems reported Thursday.


Anonymous said...

Another very strange observation I have made is that the SacBee is woefully behind in reporting home sales on its MLS site. I have wanted to use the recent home sales information from the SacBee MLS site to see the recent sales in particular zip codes around the city, but the site appears to have no data from Jan-Mar. At first I thought it might take a little time to update or enter data into the list, but now that we are in April I think it is absurd for the Bee to be 3 full months behind in updating this information, especially when one of the search options is "sales in the last 3 months." Does anyone know what is up with this lag time?

surfer-x said...

anon, you can get the sacto zip code sales on

Anonymous said...

Thanx Surfer X, that is a website I will be visiting. But the SacBee listed actual sales prices and addresses of individual homes. It appears DataQuik aggregates all activity for a zip code (useful, but less detailed). I imagine if you pay DQ they will give you the complete breakdown.