Are Existing Home Prices Overrepresented By Up To 40%?

Tyler Durden's picture

A reader writes in with some troubling observations on what could potentially be a pretty substantial scheme to artificially "boost" existing home prices by up to 40%, putting all the NAR data, and all other relevant public housing data materially into question. Since trick is painfully simplistic, and all too easy to spot, we wish to open it up to our readers for verification, as this could be a huge hit to the credibility of all existing home price metrics, and put into question all transitory upticks in home prices, such as the backward looking Case-Shiller index indicated yesterday.

From the email:

Realtors are not reporting the true sold prices on homes.  Here are 2 examples.  If a home is listed on the MLS and then sells at a auction like Hudson & Marshal or RealtyBid, you can see the sold price online or if you attend the live auctions, see the house sell at open outcry auction.  The next day the houses are reported sold on the MLS but always at full price.

The example below sold for $115,000 at Realtybid but is listed as sold for $159,500 on the MLS.

Also, homes are listed on the MLS and sold on the HUD site.  You can see the sold area on HUD and the Bid Stats.  The house listed below sold on the Hud site for $90,061 but again was listed as sold for full price on the MLS $113,400.

These are only 2 examples, I have seen over 100 and assume it is occurring everywhere.  I understand that foreclosures are not included in the sales stats from the Realtor Assoc. but the stats they use are taken from the sold prices listed on the MLS.  They are all false.

Simply said, this means that any pricing data coming off Multiple Listing Services is fatally flawed, and if this observation is verified, could potentially be a simplistic means to misrepresent the true home price by up to 40% higher.

As for the examples, here is property 1 as represented by the MLS: note the price of $159,500

And below is the actual final auction price on the exact same property taken from RealtyBid:

The MLS certainly pulled all the correct information on the property... all except for the price.

Another example: 5572 Goodhue Ave, Rockford IL 61109. The house was sold in auction for a purchase price of $90,061 as the below screenshot from the HUD auction indicates:

Yet the very same property was listed on foreclosure.com, and subsequently pulled by Zillow, as having a value of $113,400

These are merely two examples.

We have a simple question: which price is the NAR, Case-Shiler, and every other resi real estate index service pulling: the higher or the lower. For the ongoing credibility of the suddenly green shoot free recoveryless recovery, we at least hope it is the correct one. Which is why we ask readers to advise us of any comparable bifurcations between paid and listed price on properties they may be aware of.

Suddenly David Rosenberg's claim that no properties over $750,000 sold in the past month doesn't seem all that outlandish...