Every month, the local real estate board BNAR (Buffalo Niagara Association of REALTORS) which I am a member of, provides statistics compiled by a vendor for Western New York. The Buffalo News and other media outlets then take this and report the highlights to you (“…closed deals increased by 2.6% [in September]… from a year ago”). Also, you are probably used to seeing the national and local media reporting numbers for the entire U.S. (“Sales increased 4.7%… median home price[s] in September [were] up 6.1%…”) While the national housing market was booming between 2000 and late 2006, and then began tanking in 2007, Buffalo overall stood strong. National numbers mean nothing to individual buyers and sellers wherever you live, it’s just a news bite.
BNAR statistics are a good basic look at prices and trends OVERALL in our area. Let’s start with explaining what BNAR reports:
“Residential activity for Regional Board B, comprised of single-family properties, townhomes and condominiums combined”
This means their locally-reported numbers do not include multi-family (2-4 unit) home sales. You might not think this is not relevant, but many buyers including first time buyers in Buffalo consider a two family double a viable and even the ONLY choice for them when buying. The numbers also include condos which are much less similar to a single family home than a double is, as you have HOA fees and an overall living situation which makes it tough to compare.
The reports are compiled the end of the following month, to account for lagging of data input by the REALTORS. Sometimes a house that closes say September 25th doesn’t get input into the system for weeks due to it all being a manual system. And that’s another qualifier – these numbers are all REALTOR generated. There’s probably more than a few mistakes, multiple entries, etc that skew numbers. And the information does not include ANY private sales where REALTORS were not involved – again a huge part of the local market. But overall, for the thousands of sales, it should be a good gauge of the average.
What I would like to do here is analyze the regional stats that are reported, and in addition take some time to compile more micro-sized data for your town, your zip code, your school district, your house. Wouldn’t that be helpful to see what prices are like in your area, and not just how the local market is doing?
OK, here are two highlights of what BNAR reported for the month of September 2015 (as of October 31st, 2015):
- number of closed sales up 2.6%
- one year change in median sale price up 3.1%
I re-ran these numbers November 6th (less than a week after these were done supposedly) and this is what I came up with:
- number of closed sales up 3.7%
- median sale price no change
I came up with 12 more sales in September which may not sound like a lot but 3.7% looks a whole lot better than 2.6% to me. This is probably the result of my above explanation – the delay in real estate offices updating their numbers manually.
Days on market (DOM) is also a figure used to show how long homes are sitting on the market (or how fast they are selling). BNAR reported 48 DOM (I calculated 50). I found out this is an average, not a median. Our median DOM I calculated is 23. If you know a bit about basic stats from school, the average is the sum of all values, divided by the number of values. For simplicity, if you have 0, 0, 1, 14, 15, 15, 16, 17, 18 the average is 10.6. But the median (the number in the middle of these numbers – half the values are higher, half are lower) is 15. When you have data sets that are skewed on one side or the other (the significant amount of zero values in my example), the median should always be used, otherwise the average will not represent your central tendency you are looking for. In most housing markets, it’s common for the average DOM to be much higher than the median DOM (which ours is) when new listings are selling faster than homes that have been on the market for some time (which most do). In fact 270 out of the 1137 sales (23.7%) in September sold in a week or less.
Hopefully this is a good read for you and that you haven’t fallen asleep yet. I plan on putting together a few articles a week on numbers I find interesting from my own analysis in the MLS. Let me know if there are any stats you are curious to know about, or if you need clarification on anything you see here or elsewhere.