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Incorrect MLS Data Exaggerates Central Michigan’s Recovery

Published on Friday - August 02, 2013

The housing sector recovery has yet to take hold in every U.S. city. While it appears that the majority of individual markets are trending in an upward direction, there are those that have seemingly been left behind. Of particular interest, however, is the predicament witnessed in Central Michigan. Without a doubt, Central Michigan’s real estate market is improving, but not to the degree in which it was originally anticipated.

The Central Michigan Association of Realtors mistakenly reported incorrect sales figures for the second quarter of 2013. According to Debra Townsend, the executive director of the Central Michigan group, the numbers reflected sales figures correlated with two additional Northern Michigan real estate boards. Therefore, sales figures reflected a combination of the three regions and not just Central Michigan.

“In mid-March, we merged our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) with two others,” Townsend said. “We discovered the problem there.”

The MLS has become an extremely valuable tool to those who are provided access to it. In combining all of the listings by Realtors in the designated region, agents are granted access to all of the properties for sale and their respective asking price. In addition, the MLS provides agents with a collection of data on appraisals, sale history, actual sale prices, the amount of time properties have been on the market, and other data.

When used correctly, the MLS can serve as an agent’s most valuable asset. However, inaccuracies in data may misconstrue the facts made available. In the case of Central Michigan’s latest report, the MLS combined the data of three independent regions. Townsend said the new Northern Great Lakes Realtors MLS combines the listings from the Central Michigan Association of Realtors, the Traverse Area Association of Realtors and the Northeastern Michigan Board of Realtors.

Unfortunately, the results from each region were compiled and incorrectly labeled as being derived solely from Central Michigan. The information was therefore distributed to the Michigan Association of Realtors, essentially making it public. The misrepresentation of the data made it appear as if Central Michigan was in the midst of a substantial housing boom.

While Central Michigan is in fact not in a housing boom, corresponding data is indicative of a progressive trend. Sales continue to increase beyond the dismal numbers witnessed in 2012. In fact, the first half of 2013 witnessed a 21 percent increase in the rate existing single-family homes were sold compared to this time last year.

The average home in Central Michigan sold for approximately $93,700 during the first half of this year. That price represents a 2.7 percent increase from 2012. However, while trending upwards, the average price of a home in Central Michigan is well below the 2006 rate. Before the bubble, average prices at the end of June were above $123,000.

By comparison, Detroit remained the state’s most depressed real estate market. The average value of a home within the metropolitan area currently sits at a staggering $19,187 for the first half of 2013. As depreciated as that may seem, this number is actually encouraging. At just under $20,000, 2013’s first half marks a 24 percent increase from 2012.

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