The first problem with reading statistics on any topic is that you need to know if the organization publishing the numbers has a stake in the results. The second problem is that organizations that do have a stake in the results will publish numbers that reflect the best for their own needs. For example, the housing market is currently in a slump, yet some groups involved in selling real estate will release statistics to the media that show home sales are rebounding. Are these groups lying? No. They are handpicking the most favorable view of the housing market for the entire country, which is the third problem when reading statistics. This is a very large country, and dramatic slumps in one part of the country may only be an economic correction in another part.
These are the things that you must keep in mind when looking at the statistics on the housing market. The current real estate market is being buffeted by many serious problems, mortgage fraud, predatory lending, financing that is not based on a person’s actual credit worthiness, excessive inventory of existing homes, uncompleted housing starts, and investors who do not have sufficient knowledge of the housing market. These problems have not affected each area of the country equally. In some areas, the housing market there is just a very slow buyer’s market, and in other areas, the foreclosures outnumber the home sales.
If you are interested in becoming a home buyer, your primary interest should be in the housing market for the area in which you are planning to purchase a home. You learn that from reading the articles on home buying and the housing market in local newspapers. You can also get information from the Internet. CNN Money (www.cnnmoney.com) has a section on real estate news as does MSNBC (www.msnbc.com). Both of these websites provide the latest statistics issued by the federal government about the housing market. Some of these statistics are broken down by areas of the country. Another great source for this information is the Wall Street Journal.