More On Alternative Methods For Measuring Housing

 |  Includes: CRXIF, IYR
by: Larry MacDonald

When is the Canadian media going to stop headlining grossly misleading data published by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)? Case in point: on December 15, the Canadian Press cited CREA data that house prices had dived 10% during the year to November.

That 10% “decline” represents not a pure price decline but a change in the mix of houses sold. CREA is aware of this and just recently began publishing another estimate of house prices that supposed corrects for this distortion. This measure shows a 4.7% decline, as the Financial Post reports.

Yet, even this is suspect. I just finished doing a few posts on a less distorted method called the Repeat Sale Price Index (RSPI). It indicated house prices were 3.3% higher over the year to October.

The RPSI is not perfect but would seem to be the least biased. It is the method now widely followed by the U.S. media (i.e. the Shiller-Case indexes). And the New House Price Index published by Statistics Canada shows a year-over-year increase in October of 1.5%, closer to the RSPI than CREA.

I think it is a rather huge disservice to the Canadian public to disseminate such misleading statistics. If gives an overly negative picture of the housing market. It may scare house hunters away from the market and lead house sellers to list at a lower price, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, goes the saying.