Business Week Gets Twisted

A Small Tobey2.jpgOnce upon a time, when I first walked in the doors of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Telecommunications, I learned the first tenet of journalism – always get a second source. Never place your story, your credibility, in the hands of a single individual without verifying the information with someone else.Peter Coy at Business Week probably ought to head back to college for some review.Peter was kind enough to serve as house organ for the bubble bloggers yesterday with his article about “fuzzy Realtor numbers.” An excerpt:

In Phoenix, the numbers seem to go kerflooey every December. In December 2005, the number of houses that were withdrawn from the market plummeted to just 87, from 3,673 the previous month and 5,882 the month after. (Twist defines withdrawals to include listings that are expired, withdrawn, pending, or temporarily off the market.) In December of ’04 in Phoenix, withdrawals declined so much that they supposedly went negative–specifically, a negative 1,234. Of course, there is no such thing as a “negative withdrawal,” so this has to be some kind of bookkeeping fudge.

The key phrase which Peter both wrote an ignored was supposedly. He was staring at the erroneous information but rather than question what he was seeing, he assumed that the books were wrong.

Unfortunately for Peter and his source, Twist at Housing Doom (look it up, I’m not going to waste the link), the numbers were wrong.

Greg Swann over at Bloodhound posted the following figures for December 2005. I also ran them … two sources, two sources, two sources.

December 2005
Expired: 2134
Cancelled: 2218
Pending: 2
Temporarily Off Market: 1
Total 4355

Just in case Twist meant Phoenix only, I ran the following numbers for my comment on Peter’s blog:

434 cancelled
434 expired

(Note: I skipped TOM and Pending – there are a couple, but they’ve been in that status for so long it wasn’t worth pulling.)

Twist always has claimed to have a source who provides here information in the MLS. And in the rush to further condemn the real-estate profession, an apparent specialty of his, poor Peter took the offered bait.

Then again, what would you expect from some who condemns real estate agents for not confessing to a market collapse with one hand and “highly” recommends a bubble blog with the other.

Of course, the media knows best.


Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Jay Thompson 11 years ago

    I re-ran the numbers too that Business Weak got from “Twist”. And no matter how much I twisted the data (pun intended) I couldn’t derive what she did.

    I have *no clue* how she got those numbers, and even less of a clue how a publication like Business Week could have run them without some sort of confirmation.

  • Dalton’s Arizona Homes Blog » Blog Archive » Conspiracy Theories and the MLS 11 years ago

    […] Last week, Business Week’s Peter Coy posted an online article based on Twist’s data claiming the MLS manipulates its data every December. To what purpose, I’m still not certain. There was one fatal flaw with the theory – the supporting data set was incorrect. Four of us entered the MLS database, ran the numbers and came up with the exact same information – numbers completely different than Twist’s. The article was subsequently withdrawn in the fact of the actual data. Today Twist offered a vigorous defense of her conclusions and her data, extrapolated from the market stats provided on the public side of the ARMLS site. In short, she is taking the number of total listings and factoring out closed sales to determine how many listings were canceled, temporarily of the market or expired. […]

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