Another real estate agent in Crofton recently downplayed the use of statistics in evaluating the market, saying in an online newsletter that "statistics don't always have room for nuances" such as the effect of the tax credit on units sold and sold prices. True, BUT...
My very first Activerain post was a market study based on statistics published by MRIS, our regional mls. Within a week, I listed a Crofton home for sale as a direct result of this first post, and a second listing followed a few weeks later. Needless to say, I've been a believer in market studies ever since.
In response to my competitor's statement, I will concede that the numbers are the numbers are the numbers... and there's no room for nuances. Again, however, I say BUT...
Statistics are to a Market Report what Comps are to a CMA.
Comps used in a CMA are factual, too, but we wouldn't hand a pile of mls printouts to a seller and say "here are the comps... now YOU figure out the price." Real estate agents are expected to bring some expertise to the table and make adjustments for the nuances in comps, such as property features and condition, and estimate a likely selling price or price range. THE BOTTOM LINE: Comps + professional analysis = CMA
I don't think it's any different when we present statistics to consumers. We shouldn't just hand them a bunch of charts and graphs and say "here are the numbers... now YOU figure out the market." Our clients expect us to interpret those numbers to account for the nuances, such as tax credits and current employment figures, and help them understand market conditions. THE BOTTOM LINE: Statistics + professional analysis = Market Report.
My answer to the question asked in the title of this post, therefore, is this... (drum roll please)... "All of the above." TRUE because real estate sales statistics themselves have no room for nuances, but FALSE because those statistics are influenced by many factors - factors which we understand and should be communicating to consumers in our role as real estate professionals.
The ability we develop through training and experience to make sense of the facts - whether comps or statistics - is the value we bring to the table in any real estate transaction. It's probably the main reason home sellers and buyers NEED us to help them buy or sell a home.
Don't make the mistake of minimizing the importance of accurate real estate statistics. In fact, I would suggest that pricing a home today requires both a CMA and a Market Report prepared by a knowledgeable real estate professional like you or me.