NOVA Statistics Can Lie-Here’s Why

This post was originally written and geared towards other Northern Virginia agents. Then I realized it was important for consumers to understand that sometimes the MLS data and statistics are wrong. It’s been changed a bit since it was posted on the Active Rain network. If you are interested you can check out the original version and other agents comments on that post. As a Northern Virginia Realtor® I depend a good deal on the data in the MLS to be close to accurate.

For example looking for updated data on recent sales in the Northern Virginia area it seemed to me the sales figures in the neighborhood weren’t correct. Sure enough when I looked at the details of the sales the data entry error was obvious. A $120,000 seller subsidy instead of $12,000. Since the sales price of the house was only $400,000 it isn’t likely a lender would approve a subsidy of 1/3 of the sales price.

According to a CMA report run on the neighborhood the average seller subsidy in 2010 was $15,600. However if I adjust for the $100,000 mistake, the average seller subsidy is $9,222. That’s a significant difference for both sellers and buyers to consider. Now think about how this one data entry error is compounded by multiple agents publishing marketing reports and CMA’s based on the incorrect data.

Curious as to how many other data entry errors I might uncover in the “seller subsidy” data field it was time to run additional reports of local neighborhoods. Here are just a few I found in popular Northern Virginia neighborhoods:

Now I can’t guarantee that every report I publish or send will be 100% error free. However, our Northern Virginia MLS does allow us to create custom searches which can help us catch some of these anomalies before we publish a report. In my opinion this is a step which at least will catch the most obvious errors and keep our reports closer to accurate.

If you are a seller make sure you ask the agent you are talking to if they have taken the extra step to review the data on the CMA you are reading.  Same for buyers.  Mistakes happen, we are all human.  Buying or selling a home isn’t penny candy and you need a little peace of mind before you sign on the dotted line.

OH and don’t forget our MLS sales data is pulled by a number of third party sources for reports. If they are also tracking seller subsidy and net sales prices each error begins to add up. Can you imagine if you are checking Zillow and see you gave a buyer over $9 Million dollars to buy your home. Pick me up off the floor!

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