Misleading “Median”

If you averaged temperatures in the Sahara and Antarctic, you’d get a mild 60 degrees or so — and a meaningless statistic.

In a nutshell, that’s my reaction to the most recent Twin Cities housing statistics, showing that the median Twin Cities home sales price in January was $140,000.

But that number means virtually nothing, because it’s a blend of two very different statistics:

For the 55% of January sales that were foreclosures or short sales, the median sales price was $89,682.

By contrast, the median January sales price for (non-lender mediated) “traditional sales” — the remaining 45% of the market — was $201,500.

That last number is actually a 2% increase from a year ago.

You can’t necessarily conclude that short sales and foreclosures sell for less than half of traditional sales, because smaller, less expensive homes comprise a disproportionate share of short sales and foreclosures.

However, it’s patently obvious to Realtors, buyers, and banks that foreclosures in particular sell at a steep discount.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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