We’re thinking we should simply name this series after our last post, “There you go again”, in honor of the media whenever it manages to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Typically, bad news is negative news since that’s what sells, but sometimes when the media get scooped by another outlet, they will try and dig up an opposing opinion in order to get a piece of the attention; further managing to confuse (or mislead) their audience.

We see it over the spectrum of issues, but one common theme is they are typically issues that are “hot buttons” with their audience, like the economy, housing, jobs etc.

It’s not hard to point out their lack of diligence—to dig a little deeper and ask “why”. So why don’t they do it? In today’s sound-bite media world it’s not about accurate reporting so much as getting the story out there fast and first.

We tend catch slanted real estate reporting since it is what can easily spot, but it’s prevalent in many other areas as well.

Take our last post pointing out the misleading report on housing sales decline. Almost simultaneous with that report was a report on the median price increasing. So they managed to exaggerate the report on the sales decline and overstate the median price increase. What’s a person to do?

If you’re like us we’re sure you’d like to reply on the news you hear as accurate, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you have to dig deeper. Of course we’ll try and take some of that burden off of you. If you check in here regularly we try and ferret out the real stuff from the fluff.

What was wrong with their story about the median price increase in the Bay Area? On the surface nothing—the median price did increase in the Bay Area. But they are insinuating by the context in which they issue the report  that the median price increase is representative of home values going up. In fact, often times the median price changes have more to do with the mix of larger or smaller homes selling than it has to do with varying prices.

As in when the media reported that the sales of homes had decreased in San Mateo County by the highest margin in 15 years, but failed to mention that the data they were basing their story on had yet to be released and was only estimated. They also reported that the median price in San Mateo had increased without mentioning that is was in all likelihood a result of larger homes selling rather than prices increasing, as reported by the California Association of Realtors who provided the information they relied on.

This is from the California Association of Realtor press release. The same one cited in articles discussing the Bay Area median price gain.

“Note: Large changes in local median home prices typically indicate both local home price appreciation, and often, large shifts in the composition of housing market activity. Some of the variations in median home prices for July may be exaggerated due to compositional changes in housing demand…”

And indeed if one digs deeper they find that foreclosures, which pulled the median prices down, and which accounted for nearly 50 %of all sales had dwindled significantly.

Did the values of homes in the Bay Area rise? In some areas in fact they did, just not as much as reported. The case-shriller report which looks at the same house selling repeated times, and thus considerably a more reliable source, shows that indeed values have been rising steadily since April of 2009.

As with the report on declining sales, in the end is their report wrong? No. just not as accurate as it could be.

Care to rate this post?