Friday, February 25, 2011

Like we need more negative press...

Evidently the Associated Press printed an article wherein they stated that "70% of the homes in Phoenix are at risk of foreclosure." I'm sure there were lots of exclamation points to be had. They attributed this "fact" to ARMLS (the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service). Unfortunately for the original writers of this apparently now viral piece, this "fact" is totally untrue.

The writers pulled this information from a publication that ARMLS publishes monthly. The original statistic was that distressed properties accounted for 70.2% of sales, in January only.


Of the 6,541 sales in January, 70.2% (or 4,591) of them were "distressed", which is to say either closed short sales or lender owned properties. While that's a huge number, it's certainly not the much more headline stealing "70% OF PHOENIX HOMES AT RISK OF FORECLOSURE!!!!!!" bullshit that the AP put out.

I don't have an exact count of how many houses there are in Phoenix since the Bureau of Census hasn't yet released Arizona numbers to give me at least an updated idea of population, but I'm fairly certain that with a last known population of over 4.5 million, there have to be at least a million homes. Based on that, if we take the 70% attributed by the AP, we're looking at about 700,000 homes at risk of foreclosure. Seriously? If they had taken the time to do that simple bit of guestimate math themselves, maybe they would have realized how totally out of whack the number was. Maybe.

I can't decide if the writers intentionally misinterpreted the numbers to sell more news or if they're really so stupid they can't read a statistic properly. Unfortunately I am inclined to think it's the latter.

I won't sugarcoat it and say it's all fantastic and things are back to normal around here because they aren't. There are still a large number of pending foreclosures out there (40,461 to be exact). But that's down from last month's number of 41,485. And it's dropped a full 20% from the high of 50,568 in November of 2009. It's been steadily declining for fourteen months. It is getting better, it's just taking a lot more time than we thought it would. And it isn't being helped by the number of people doing "strategic defaults" wherein they decide to walk away not because they have but because they want to. And that's a whole different post for another day.