Tracking real estate numbers is tricky

Steve Henn Aug 14, 2008
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Tracking real estate numbers is tricky

Steve Henn Aug 14, 2008
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: The housing market continues to falter. A survey out this morning from RealtyTrac found foreclosures are up by more than 50 percent from last year. Seems like a pretty straightforward bear market, right? Well, as Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports, tracking the real estate downturn is tricky and getting trickier.


Steve Henn: RealtyTrac may be the most widely-cited source of foreclosure data in the country. The company tries to capture every public foreclosure filing. It’s numbers drive public policy debates and are quoted from the Wall Street Journal to CNBC — but many industry insiders question the companies figures.

For years now, RealtyTrac’s reported Colorado has one of the higher rates of foreclosures in the country. But:

Ryan McMaken: Colorado is not experiencing any general crashes in housing values.

Ryan McMaken at that state’s department of housing says different states have different legal systems and generate different records. That makes an apples to apples comparison tough.

And recently, legal changes in New York, California and Massachusetts have made tallies there harder. The laws slow down foreclosure proceedings, but thousands of homeowners are still behind on their mortgage payments — even if they don’t show up in this month’s RealtyTrac.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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