From the Realtors Commercial Alliance of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors:
It’s time to register for the “2012 State of the Market” event scheduled to begin Noon Thursday April 26, 2012, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
3 REQUIRED Hours CE Credit have been approved by OREC.
National speaker Mark Dotzour is the Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. He does an excellent job of explaining how the current conditions in the national and regional economy will impact commercial real estate.
This year’s panelists also include:
• Mark Beffort, Managing Director, Grubb & Ellis|Levy Beffort, Oklahoma City/Tulsa
• Jim Fram, Senior Vice President of Economic Development for the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce
• Robin Roberts Krieger, Executive Vice President, Economic Development,
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce
Location: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City.
Here are the details in a story from last August, before Sunbeam’s bid was accepted:
Sunbeam hopes high bid claims Classen Terrace By Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Sunbeam Family Services Inc. was the highest bidder Wednesday in the auction of an albatross that it hopes to turn into a jewel.
Sunbeam wants the Classen Terrace office building location, 1411 Classen Blvd., for use as its headquarters as it settles into its second 100 years. The 104-year-old social services organization wants to consolidate under one roof — but not the virtually flat asphalt roof over the long-vacant and gutted state office building.
Sunbeam wants to raze the three-story, 85,708-square-foot building, which has been abandoned by all but pigeons, vagrants and graffiti artists since the mid-1990s and stayed controversial for just as long. The would-be buyer awaits word from the owner, the state Department of Central Services, which has the final say on the auction. Calls to the would-be seller went unreturned.
Central Services wound up with the building in 2006 when the Corrections Department, after spending nearly $1 million on it — and pulling it off the auction block at the last minute the November before — sold it for $500,000. Corrections paid $250,000 for it in 1994.
Officials in 2005 said the prison system did not have and could not get the money to make the building usable, even after inmates had cleared it of asbestos. A 2001 proposal for a $4 million bond issue to fund renovations went nowhere.
A 2008 auction failed because no bid met the minimum requirement of 90 percent of appraised value. Nothing came of another auction held in 2009.
Sunbeam’s successful bid on Wednesday was $356,501.
Less is less
It’s been an ignominious decade-plus for the boxy building, erected by Hudgins-Thompson-Ball & Associates in 1954-55 in the midcentury International Style, for which “less is more” was the dictum. Less is even less now, since first modifications to the neutral steel-and-glass architecture — and now boards — have hidden the original exterior features.
Its construction made a splash and caused a traffic jam in August 1954, when a crowd gathered at NW 13 and Classen to watch a 178-ton concrete slab raised 33 feet to become the roof. People stopped their cars and got out to watch a crew from Lift-Slab Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, inch the 58-by-72-foot slab up on nine steel columns, according to a newspaper account.
The developer-owner, later renamed HTB Inc., had architecture and structural and civil engineering divisions, and occupied part of the building itself, said J.C. Witcher of Architectural Design Group, who led ADG’s site evaluation of the property for Sunbeam. The building was fully leased with more than 30 tenants by summer 1955, according to a full-page ad HTB placed in that year’s June 26 issue of The Daily Oklahoman.
That was 55 years ago. Classen Terrace has been troubled now for a generation, and Sunbeam hopes the building’s days are numbered.
“We think that site is the perfect location,” said Ray Bitsche Jr., Sunbeam’s executive director. Sunbeam would be tickled to take down a building that has long been unworkable and unwanted and use the space for its mission “to provide people of all ages with help, hope and the opportunity to succeed,” he said.
Sunbeam, founded in 1907, has been in the same area, the 600 block of NW 20 and NW 21, for 99 years. Its main address is 616 NW 21, but the organization, which provides assistance for the poor and working poor and temporary housing including a senior shelter, is spread across five buildings, the oldest built in 1929.
Bitsche said it’s time to start moving toward moving.
“We’re taking it a step at a time. We want to get to close. Then we’ll send requests for proposals to architects to take it the rest of the way,” he said, while continuing its capital campaign, which is anchored by the slogan “SUNBEAM: New Home Forever Family.”
If you have anything to do with construction, and you haven’t checked out the National Building Museum, shame! If you think it would be a busman’s holiday, think again: Whatever your niche is in the building business, you know it’s just one of many. I promise you will be impressed, if not awed, and you will learn something to boot.
It’s been too long since I’ve been. A return visit will be tops on my list the next time I’m in D.C. Here are my impressions on the Great Hall, from back in 2-ought-ought-2:
WASHINGTON — Amid the forest of splendid architecture in the nation’s capital, the National Building Museum stands out as a veritable oak of ingenuity and workmanship.
Walk in at 401 F St. NW for the first time and gasp as the interior space plays an architect’s trick: The expanse makes you feel small — but uplifted, as well.
The Italian Renaissance building, considered a revolution when started in 1882, is a grand exhibit itself.
The gem is its Great Hall, almost as big as a football field, 15 stories high at its tallest point — great enough to drop the jaw of a casual visitor.
Great enough for 15 presidential inaugural balls since Grover Cleveland’s in 1885, including George W. Bush’s in 2001. Perfect for last Sunday’s “Christmas in Washington” television special on NBC, special guests George W. and Laura Bush.
It probably takes the presence of the president of the United States and the first lady to keep people’s attention from drifting from a gala to its surroundings in the National Building Museum.
On TV, even the enchanting Alison Krauss, with her bluegrass band Union Station, couldn’t keep me from staring at those gorgeous Corinthian columns behind the stage. There are eight of them, and they are among the tallest interior columns in the world. They stand 75 feet tall and are 8 feet in diameter. Each is made of 70,000 bricks covered with painted plaster.
The building, which originally housed the U.S. Pension Bureau, was designed by civil engineer Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs (1816-1892) and completed in five years, in 1887. It cost $886,614.04 — an amazing example of exactitude seemingly lost in modern government finance.
“American ingenuity and artistry are here married,” a brochure explains to anyone who doesn’t feel blessed by the architectural union immediately. “In addition to its outstanding programs, the museum itself is simply a wonderful place to be.”
The Italian Renaissance design almost obscures the clever and resourceful system that keeps the building comfortable, well-ventilated and filled with natural light. Windows, vents and open archways allow the Great Hall “to function as a reservoir of light and air,” the brochure explains. A central fountain complements those eight colossal columns.
The building is made up of 15.5 million bricks with brick and terra cotta ornaments. Seventy-two Doric columns of terra cotta surround the Great Hall on the ground floor. The second floor is encircled by 72 Ionic columns of cast iron. High above the Great Hall are niches holding 234 busts representing members of building occupations: bricklayer, architect, construction worker, landscape architect, financier, engineer, craftsman and developer.
On the exterior, a terra cotta frieze, 1,200 feet long and 3 feet high, wraps around the building depicting a parade of Civil War military units. Bohemian-born sculptor Caspar Buberl (1834-1899) was the artist.
The building, used for various government offices for decades, is a truly amazing place and an elegant vehicle for the mission of the National Building Museum, which was founded by Congress in 1980 and opened in 1985 as “the only cultural institution in the country exclusively dedicated” to exhibitions and public programs about America’s “built environment.”
“The museum focuses on architecture, modest and grand — from the pioneer’s log cabin to the Lincoln Memorial — which defines and reflects our national experience,” the brochure says. “But it is also about much more. It documents American innovations in construction, engineering, design, landscape architecture and urban planning — all those disciplines and activities that directly shape our physical world.
“The museum explores everything from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to the brightly colored Victorian houses of San Francisco, from Southwestern pueblos to Chicago’s Sears Tower, from the first mass-produced nail to the Hoover Dam, from New York’s Central Park to the sprawling Interstate Highway System.”
The National Building Museum building is a positively majestic setting for such a broad mission.
Downtown Norman, Ponca City train depot, Custer County archeological site land on National Register of Historic Places
Some of y’all know that my inner child wants to grow up to be a historian. My inner lad, in fact, took control of my mind and body from 2001-2004 and had me get an M.A. in history from the University of Central Oklahoma. (I’ve used it, too.) So, historic preservation hits me inside (inner child) and out (day job).
That’s why I love hearing about new additions to the National Register of Historic Places. This just in (and the archeological site in Custer County is the coolest one to me!):
The Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office is pleased to announce three new National Register of Historic Places listing. The newest listings from Oklahoma include: one historic district, an archeological site and a railroad resource. The National Register of Historic Places is our nation’s official list of properties significant in our past.
The Downtown Norman Historic District, located in Norman, Cleveland County, is significant for its association with historic commercial activities in Norman. As the core of the central business district, this area has been the center of commercial development in Norman from shortly after its founding in 1889 to the present. The vast majority of construction in the area was completed by 1960, with most commercial construction activity after this time being in the form of renovations and a small number of infill construction projects. The buildings in the Downtown Norman Historic District reflect the commercial growth of this community, growth spurred by agricultural prosperity, proximity to transportation routes, and the University of Oklahoma. The nomination was prepared by Kelli Gaston for the City of Norman.
The Heerwald site, located in Custer County, is significant as it represents a village of the incompletely understood Turkey Creek phase, A.D. 1200-1450. The presence of intact cultural deposits and subsurface features indicates this site has the potential to provide important information on the subsistence, trade, site structure, and other socio-economic activities of groups in the Washita River basin of west-central Oklahoma 600-800 years ago. From the investigations of 34CU27, the site can provide additional information concerning diet, tool industry, town layout, and other aspects of Plains Villager life leading up to the precontact coalescent or “protohistoric” period. The Heerwald site has the potential to answer many basic questions concerning the Turkey Creek phase and the lifestyle of these people during the 13th through early 15th centuries.
The Santa Fe Depot in Ponca City is significant for its association with rail transportation in Ponca City from its construction in 1911 until its remodeling at the end of World War II. It is also significant as a notable and unique example of a modified Mission/Colonial Revival style combination passenger and freight depot. The nomination was prepared for the City of Ponca City by Kelli Gaston.
I think Merle Haggard sang about living in a box car among fellow Okies out in California during the Dust Bowl/Depression years.
Dream homes that come in a crate – by Susan Galleymore, Inman News.
If you know of anybody doing this in Oklahoma, let me know.
OK, if I write a column that includes a link to this blog, then post the story with the link to the blog in a blog post on the blog that includes a link back to the column, then tweet it, and Facebook it, will it create an Internet causality loop?
It’s Dick’s Sporting Goods under construction on the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue north of Memorial Road in Oklahoma City — NOT Dick’s Trading Post, which was an auction barn on Shawntel Smith Boulevard (nee Broadway Avenue), a.k.a. U.S. Highway 64, in my hometown of Muldrow back in the day.
Must. Remember. Must unlearn “Dick’s Trading Post.” Must learn “Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
Twice now, I’ve caught myself typing “Dick’s Trading Post” when I meant to type “Dick’s Sporting Goods.” Sheesh. If it ever slips into the paper, now you’ll know why.
I have a similar memory tic when it comes to Shepherd-like-a-sheep-herder-Mall in OKC; my fingers want to type Sheppard-like-a-U.S. senator-Air Force Base, which is at Wichita Falls, Texas, where I lived and worked for a decade.
Sometimes, I almost get my own byline credit wrong. It’s “Real Estate Editor,” but my fingers still want to type “Regional Editor” — and that was almost 20 years ago, also back in Texas.
So, let’s get it straight:
WRONG: “The regional editor of The Oklahoman/NewsOK says that Dick’s Trading Post is building a store in Oklahoma City, but nowhere near Sheppard Mall.”
RIGHT: “The real estate editor of The Oklahoman/NewsOK says that Dick’s Sporting Goods is building a store in Oklahoma City, but nowhere near Shepherd Mall.”
No matter what Dick’s Sporting Goods says. Or doesn’t say. And the chain isn’t saying. But Dick’s Sporting Goods is already looking for a store manager for Oklahoma City.
Dick’s Trading Post, however, is long gone and is not hiring.
… and single, I b’lieve I would be headed to North Dakota, or already there. It’s booming, y’all, bigtime, just like Oklahoma did in the ’80s — and for the same reason: Black gold, Texas tea and all that, and natural gas, too, with an accompanying real estate boom.
A young guy could make a mighty bundle working in the oil patch, or in construction, up there. Or party hard. Or both.
Sigh. I *just* missed the ’80s boom in Oklahoma. I graduated high school in Muldrow in ’82; the boom was still booming, but not really that much around home. There’s quite a bit of natural gas in Sequoyah County and environs, way east of OKC, up against the Arkansas state line. Oil, not so much.
But one good high school friend’s daddy worked for Star Jet Services, a well perforation and mudding and packing outfit, and he was always running off with his dad for long weekends of hard work and makin’ money out in western Oklahoma. And another good friend slept in his car one summer working construction in Oklahoma City. They could not spend the money they made if they tried, and I know for a fact that my buddy who slept in his car TRIED.
Alas, I missed the boom. But the time I goofed around at Connors State College foe a couple of years before winding up at Oklahoma State in fall ’84, my first roomate at Bennett Hall was a fifth-year senior closin’ in on a petroleum engineering degree, wondering what the heck he was going to do with it.
So, if you want to work in the oil patch in North Dakota, act now. The offer will expire one of these days.
But for now, there’s this, just in from Meyers LLC,, a reseach outfit in Irvine, Calif.:
Boomtowns in North Dakota have seen an explosion in population and jobs since 2007. In 2005, Boomtowns employed roughly 4,500 people in the oil and gas industry, but current estimates peg total employment at 25,000 jobs. There are roughly 2,000-3,000 job openings in Williston alone, and this area will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Many of the new jobs are very well-paid, with oil company workers averaging about $100,000 a year with overtime. Some of the biggest oil employers in the boomtowns include Fortune 500 companies Halliburton and Hess.
Growth in boomtowns has been a mixed blessing for these small towns. Boomtowns such as Williston, North Dakota, are trying to keep up with the population surge, building hundreds of homes, schools, and retail. However, the explosion of jobs has put a severe strain on not only the housing supply, but on all services, roads and the sewage system. Developers have not been able to build housing units fast enough to keep up with demand, while towns are scrambling to find workers to meet the growth. The housing crunch has become so dire that many new arrivals resort to sleeping wherever they can in their cars or tents.
Apartments and hotels in boomtowns are consistently full with long waiting lists, resulting in rents and room rates increasing at an exorbitant pace. Rents in many cases have tripled in the past year or so, with one-bedroom apartments reportedly going for $1,500 per month and rates of $3,000+ per month for two and three-bedroom units reported. Even RV spots are going for $1,000 a month in these boomtowns.
To help offset the housing supply shortage and to entice employees, some oil companies offer “man camps” for their workers. These low-slung modular buildings are dormitory-like and can house larger numbers of workers, offering a few basic amenities as well as meals and housekeeping. Despite the severe shortage of housing, boomtowns recently have begun denying new applications for these modular “camps”. The towns are looking to impose new fees to help support much-needed services to keep up with the growth. Once sewer, water, and other services have been expanded, these moratoriums are expected to be lifted.
Tornado Allley has been a real misnomer the past few years, hasn’t it? I wonder if my fellow Okie and Texan friends feel like my wife and I do when we see the massive destruction in other parts of the country: Sad that the things have been hitting in such populated areas, as well as relieved that they skipped us this time, and that time, and the other time.
That has to be the biggest difference: Tornadoes descend in droves across western Oklahoma or the Texas Panhandle and chances are all they’ll scare is a bunch of cows and all they’ll hit is some oil tank batteries. That’s no knock; it’s just the way it is: Not that many people live on the Golden Spread of the Texas Panhandle, outside Amarillo and a handful of small towns. Same goes for western Oklahoma. Our rural is more rural than Midwesterners’ and Southerners’ rural.
But Santa Ana, Calif.-based CoreLogic has some other ideas. From a press release out this week:
The perceived dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of tornado and hail events in recent years could be attributed to a number of factors, including improved observational tools, broadened geographic distribution of modern Doppler radar stations, population growth and migration to suburban areas.
24/7 disaster news reporting via television, online coverage and social media have greatly affected public awareness and likely heightened sensitivity to severe weather events in recent years.
There is growing scientific evidence that there has been an increase in the actual number of severe weather outbreaks as the result of rising global temperatures.
The press release is below. It links to a report, Tornado and High Risk Beyond Tornado Alley. I’ll read it and see if they take the sparse population of the Great Plains into account, and if there’s anything newsworthy in it for Oklahomans, I’ll report it in The Oklahoman/NewsOK.
CoreLogic® Report Shows Tornado and Hail Risk Extends Far Beyond Great Plains States
—Only Three of the Top 10 States with the Most Tornados From 1980-2009 are in Tornado Alley—
SANTA ANA, Calif., March 22, 2012 – CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a leading provider of information, analytics and business services, today released a new tornado and hail risk report that analyzes the risk associated with changing tornado and hail weather patterns outside of the narrow corridor in the U.S. Midwest traditionally known as “Tornado Alley.” The report, entitled Tornado and Hail Risk Beyond Tornado Alley, discusses the impact of record-breaking hazard events across the country over the last year for insurance companies and homeowners, and provides greater insight into the extent of severe tornado and hail risk in geographic regions far beyond the Great Plains states.
“The extensive destruction wrought by convective storms in 2011, which produce hail, strong winds and tornados, captured the attention of the public and forced many insurance companies to rethink the way they assess natural hazard risk,” said Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic Spatial Solutions. “The apparent increase in the number of incidents and shift in geographic distribution of losses that occurred last year in the U.S. called the long-held notion of risk concentration in Tornado Alley into question, and is leading to changes in risk management policy and procedure.”
Tornado Alley is typically considered to encompass mainly the Great Plains states and surrounding areas, spanning Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois. For that reason, many of the severe weather events that occurred outside of the Midwest in 2011, like the “Super Outbreak” of tornados that devastated much of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and even Virginia, were seen as an anomaly. According to CoreLogic, however, historical data suggests that the frequency and severity of storms is much more widespread than commonly believed.
Among key findings, the CoreLogic tornado and hail report notes:
- The perceived dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of tornado and hail events in recent years could be attributed to a number of factors, including improved observational tools, broadened geographic distribution of modern Doppler radar stations, population growth and migration to suburban areas.
- 24/7 disaster news reporting via television, online coverage and social media have greatly affected public awareness and likely heightened sensitivity to severe weather events in recent years.
- There is growing scientific evidence that there has been an increase in the actual number of severe weather outbreaks as the result of rising global temperatures.
- Actuarial analyses of claims losses associated with severe weather events in 2011 will likely cause many insurers and enterprise risk managers to approach state Department of Insurance Commissioners with rate change requests in 2012.
Tornado Damage Beyond Tornado Alley
- Tornado risk actually extends across most of the eastern half of the U.S. rather than being confined to the Midwest.
- According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), of the top ten states with the highest number of tornado touchdowns between 1980 and 2009, only three actually fell within Tornado Alley.
- At least 26 states have some area facing extreme tornado risk.
- Estimated property damage within the Tornado Alley states from 2000-2011 was approximately $2.5 billion, while in comparison, the 16 states located outside of Tornado Alley with the next highest numbers of tornado touchdowns totaled nearly $15.5 billion in property damage. Those states range from Illinois and Ohio to Mississippi and Alabama, extending as far north as parts of Minnesota and as far south as Florida.
Hail Damage Beyond Tornado Alley
- At least 11 states have significant areas facing extreme hail risk, and almost every state east of the Rocky Mountains has some area facing a moderate or higher level of hail risk.
- The area of highest hail risk extends outward from the central Great Plains to include states as far east as Georgia and the Carolinas.
- Hail storms in the Tornado Alley region caused approximately $4.3 billion in property damage and nearly $1 billion in crop damage between 2000-2011. The 16 states with the next highest amounts of hail damage outside of Tornado Alley revealed about $3.2 billion in property damage and $400 million in crop damage over the same time period. Those states span as far west as New Mexico and as far east as South Carolina and Georgia.
The maps and analysis included in the tornado and hail risk report were generated using the recently launched proprietary CoreLogic property-level risk assessment tools, Wind Probability and Hail Probability. These analytics were designed to provide insurers with a unique level of spatial and content granularity for tornado and hail risk. Unlike most generalized wind and hail data, which provide a risk rating for large geographical areas, the CoreLogic risk model uses 10 x 10-kilometer (6.2 x 6.2 miles) grid cells to pinpoint and predict the probability of a wind or hail event occurrence. The scientific models used to develop the data layers produce more precise results than other products that base their calculations on ZIP codes or counties.
For a complete copy of the Tornado and Hail Risk Beyond Tornado Alley report, which includes charts, images and risk maps for the top 16 states outside of the traditional Tornado Alley corridor with the greatest exposure to tornado and hail disasters, visit http://www.corelogic.com/about-us/researchtrends/tornado-hail-research-report.aspx?WT.mc_id=prwr_120322_FtIho Individual maps found in the report are available for download upon request. For more information regarding the CoreLogic Wind Probability and Hail Probability products visit http://www.corelogic.com/about-us/researchtrends/tornado-hail-research-report.aspx?WT.mc_id=prwr_120322_FtIho.
CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) is a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information, analytics and services to business and government. The Company combines public, contributory and proprietary data to develop predictive decision analytics and provide business services that bring dynamic insight and transparency to the markets it serves. CoreLogic has built one of the largest and most comprehensive U.S. real estate, mortgage application, fraud, and loan performance databases and is a recognized leading provider of mortgage and automotive credit reporting, property tax, valuation, flood determination, and geospatial analytics and services. More than one million users rely on CoreLogic to assess risk, support underwriting, investment and marketing decisions, prevent fraud, and improve business performance in their daily operations. The Company, headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif., has more than 5,000 employees globally. For more information, visit http://www.corelogic.com/?WT.mc_id=prwr_120322_FtIho.
Fresh from the Federal Housing Finance Agency:
“U.S. house prices were unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis from December to January, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly House Price Index. The previously reported 0.7 percent increase in December was revised downward to reflect a 0.1 percent increase. For the 12 months ending in January, U.S. prices fell 0.8 percent. The U.S. index is 19.2 percent below its April 2007 peak and roughly the same as the February 2004 index level.”
Click here to see the whole report. It’s not as detailed as the quarterly report, which I always base a story on, or a commentary, in The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com.
And here’s a reminder of my take on many housing stats, from last Jan. 14 in The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com:
By Richard Mize?
It seems that way to me sometimes — and even that Numbers takes lots and lots of context.
It hit me again this week when we dutifully reported that Oklahoma ranked No. 32 among the states in foreclosure rates last year, according to RealtyTrac in Irvine, Calif.
RealtyTrac said 12,016 homes, or 0.73 percent of Oklahoma housingunits, had at least one foreclosure filing in 2011 — down 32.2 percent from 2010 and down 7.1 percent from 2009.
That’s good news. Here’s some context, which we also always report: RealtyTrac tracks foreclosures in 33 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, not all, and in more than 2,200 counties across the country, but not all 3,143 (or is it 3,141? Wikipedia, admittedly not the best source, is unsure).
Here’s some more context, which sometimes gets lost in the blur of the news: RealtyTrac’s main business is as an online marketplace for foreclosed houses. So it has a direct interest. I am not saying there is a conflict. Because we all know numbers don’t lie — cough. But I can’t help but wonder.
Not to shine the light on RealtyTrac unduly. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index is trumpeted every month all over the country as if it gauged home prices all over the country. It does not. The S&P/Case Shiller index does not include data from 13 states and it has incomplete coverage of 29 states, including Oklahoma.
But what really gets me is one main report from S&P/Case-Shiller actually tracks home price changes in just 10 metropolitan areas. Another one looks at 20 metro areas — but it’s still limited data. Neither includes Oklahoma City. Keep that in mind the next time you see or read anyone making claims or drawing conclusions from S&P/Case-Shiller about Oklahoma.
Then there was this: Last summer, a poorly researched and methodologically unsound report by an online “financial news and opinion operation” zipped around the Internet claiming to call out “America’s 10 Sickest HousingMarkets.” It actually included Oklahoma City.
It was stunning in its absurdity — not because everything in housinghere is all sunshine and roses, but because of the compilers’ statistical malpractice in ignoring confidence intervals and what they mean for statistical probability, or what most of us would call the firmness of the numbers they spouted. And they were limp.
Last month, even the Federal Housing Finance Agency— which is usually the most reliable for tracking home values, in my book — stumbled with a report based on a study that correlated price appreciation with places with lots of energy jobs.
It concluded that in Oklahoma, home values in high-energy counties didn’t rise as fast as in counties with fewer energy jobs, mainly because the way the number-crunchers defined “energy job” excluded Comanche County-Lawton and Tulsa County — two of the state’s three metro areas.
Finally, late last year, the National Association of Realtors revised its home sales data for the past five years, saying sales were overestimated by 14 percent, which suggests that the bust was worse than people thought.
The Realtors cited a passel of reasons, including duplicate data, a big drop in for-sale-by-owner transactions and other statistical anomalies, none malicious or even that careless, as far I can tell. The Realtors said local stats from multiple listing services were sound.
To put all this in my native vernacular: Real estate stats should be taken with piles of grains of salt if they don’t come with a side order of context. And if a housing economist or statistician says she loves you, check it out.