Median sales prices could depend on whose data you use

sjones@thesunnews.comJune 6, 2014 

Two firms that report median sales prices for homes in Horry County can’t explain why their numbers are so different from each other.

“I’m sorry,” said Daren Bloomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, “I don’t have a quick explanation.”

Dierdre McDonnell, sales and market executive for SiteTech Systems, a local company that watches the same numbers in Horry and Georgetown counties as RealtyTrac does nationally, said she too was unsure what produced the separate statistics.

The differences are striking. RealtyTrac’s report was to show how home sales in 1,500 U.S. counties evolved through the recession, tracking them from 2004 to 2014.

Its report, for instance, said that Horry’s highest median sale figure between 2004 and March 2014 was that in March of 2014, when it posted a $205,000 median sales price.

SiteTech’s number for a median price just for single-family homes the same month was $180,000. Combine the condo median sales price of $105,000 the same month and the number would drop.

RealtyTrac’s numbers include medians for both single-family homes and condos. SiteTech also looks at both areas but reports each individually.

In another stat, RealtyTrac said Horry County’s lowest median sales price for the decade came in March 2013, when it recorded a figure of $110,000. SiteTech Systems said its information showed the median sales price, including both single-family homes and condos, was $140,000 the same month.

Further, SiteTech had many months through the 10-year span that rose above its March 2014 median, with the highest in June 2006 when it figured the combined median sales price at $189,900.

SiteTech Systems gets its numbers from the Multiple Listing Service while RealtyTrac watches the numbers that are recorded with the county. The two should be the same for the great majority of each list, but the county’s records would include transactions that didn’t involve a Realtor such as from one family member to another.

Neither firm counts pre-foreclosure sales where a bank will buy a property it had financed in the first place.

McDonnell said that SiteTech also doesn’t include the sales of manufactured or mobile homes, which would also involve deed transfers recorded at the county and be included in RealtyTrac’s numbers.

That one difference could cause a statistical change when considering the number of mobile and manufactured homes in this area, but it couldn’t be determined Friday afternoon if those sales could explain the gap in the two firms’ statistics.

Todd Woodard, SiteTech president, said combining Georgetown sales with Horry wouldn’t produce different numbers as there aren’t enough sales in Georgetown compared to Horry to change the statistics.

Also, McDonnell said she didn’t know the number of transactions that don’t go through a Realtor, but guessed there aren’t many each month.

Bloomquist was surprised when he realized his company’s figures showed a sudden surge in Horry’s median sales price from February to March this year, with the same median recorded for April.

He said the two months stats “seem to be an anomaly” when looking at the trend for the rest of the decade.

Bloomquist further said the RealtyTrac’s numbers are consistently lower than locally-generated numbers throughout the country.

“When we pull the data nationwide, we can miss some things,” he said.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765 or on Twitter @TSN_sjones.

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