Flawed Foreclosure Data

by Osman Parvez

For almost a year I've been tracking foreclosure statistics with data from Realtytrac.com. Now, new information is casting a shadow on the quality of that information and apparently the statistics could be 1/3 of what's being reported. For some time, the Colorado Division of Housing has been trying to figure out why there's a large discrepancy between their numbers and what's published by Realtytrac. After some analysis, they determined that Realtytrac.com is grossly over estimating.

From the Northern Colorado Business Report
"We have had a hard time understanding this disparity between their numbers and ours," said Kathi Williams, director of the Colorado Division of Housing. A careful comparison of RealtyTrac's numbers with those Williams and her staff gathered from public trustees in each of the state's 64 counties led to "this great epiphany," as she described it - a finding that the data service was repeatedly counting the same properties.
Recently the Division of Housing conferenced with Realtytrac to try to resolve the differences but Realtytrac applies the same methodology nationwide.

Going forward I'm undecided as for whether I should keep publishing county by county and Boulder county breakdown on a regular basis. If I switch to another data source, I lose the continuity of information.

I might try to contact the Colorado Division of Housing myself to see if I can get access to their information. If you guys are reading this, please contact me. Ultimately, I'd like to provide the best possible information to those that visit this site.

Stay tuned...

Hat tip to NewWest.net for the story.

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  1. Wow. What a wacko story.

    You would guess that there is a spreadsheet with a list of foreclosures (and the state of the foreclosure) somewhere.

    Makes you want to shout "C'mon people! This is the computer age! Release the raw data!"

  2. Followup to the above post:

    Rumor has it that Zillow is also working on foreclosures.

    It's interesting that they are fast becoming the nexus for statistics. Having a disinterested party (ie, one that does not profit from high or low prices) is probably the right entity to disseminate statistics in any case.


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