OCTOBER 04, 2012
Ottawa joins the spin-fest. Shameless misleading of consumers in monthly sales update
Yesterday I highlighted the recent sales data out of Toronto and Vancouver and discussed some of the ridiculous spin tactics used by the real estate boards to either assign blame for falling sales or to spur consumers to keep buying.
Today I have to highlight an absolutely ridiculous press release by the Ottawa Real Estate Board, which by the way is the only major board that refuses to disclose inventory and new listings data to the public. That desire to keep consumers in the dark is shameful enough, but this month's press release tops it:
Ottawa, October 4, 2012 - “There has been a lot of attention recently on the need to “cool” the real estate market across the country,” said Ottawa Real Estate Board President, Ansel Clarke. “While there may be a need in some areas, we emphasize that real estate is local, and conditions and prospects will vary among major market areas and indeed within market areas. Historically the Ottawa housing market has not experienced volatility in prices or number of units sold.”
“While average price information does not indicate the value of a specific property, it is useful to identify trends,” continued Mr. Clarke. “Since 1956 the average price in the Ottawa area has decreased only five times year over year and has increased by 15 per cent or more only five times as well. The Ottawa market can be characterized as stable and steady although there are pockets of our market area where we see larger increases in price.”
“As for the number of sales, we are on track this year to match historical levels of activity. Since 1999 the number of sales through the MLS® System in Ottawa has ranged from a low of 11,329 to a high of 14,783. Sales for the first nine months of the year are just under 11,700.”
New mortgage rules and continuing uncertainty about job losses in the public service may have contributed to recent decreases in the number of sales through the MLS® System of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. Members sold 993 units in September 2012, down from a near record high of 1,201 in September 2011. The average price of properties sold for the month was $351,585, up from $347,236 last month and $335,623 in September 2011.
“Some buyers are deferring their decision to purchase until their employment status is clearer. Meanwhile, sellers will want to ensure that their properties are priced appropriately. We encourage buyers and sellers to talk to their Ottawa and area REALTOR® for more information about the housing market outlook where they live, or want to live,” concluded Mr. Clarke.
You wouldn't know if from reading the press release, but sales actually fell 17% year/year in September to the lowest level since 2004. And as far as them being "historically on track", judge for yourself:
That press release is absolutely embarrassing. If you're a realtor working in Ottawa, this sort of nonsense unfortunately reflects poorly on your entire profession. You owe it to yourself and to the consumers you serve to let the board know that this is not how a businesses ought to operate. If you are an Ottawa area realtor who agrees with this sentiment, email me. I want to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
As I noted before, I think buyers should reward those in the real estate industries who have shown integrity in at least presenting the stats free of this sort of nauseating spin. I don't know a realtor in the Ottawa area that I can recommend to readers, despite a number of inquiries.
In line with this theme of shameless spinning, Garry Marr wrote a great piece for the National Post:
Organized real estate is unable, it seems, to admit the glory days may be behind it.
Sales plummet in major markets and the industry comes up with a new explanation for the decline, draping its comments with a sense that everything is just fine. The excuses are piling up.
This month’s gem comes from the Toronto Real Estate Board: It complained September didn’t have enough working days — too many weekends.
I always thought people bought homes on weekends, but it seems the transactions are registered during the week.
“The number of transactions was down 21% in comparison to September 2011,” said TREB in a release. “However, it is important to note that there were two fewer working days in September 2012.”
This logic has produced a new measure from TREB: Sales were down only 12.5% — not the actual 21% — from a year ago on a “working-day basis.”