Overcome bias in national real estate data

Mood of the Market

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In the last couple of weeks, all of these real estate headlines made the news: home values are up and listings are selling like hotcakes in Silicon Valley; the real estate market has double-dipped, with prices falling below their 2009 trough; 90 percent of Americans think homeownership is still part of the American Dream; and home sales nationwide were up in May.

Neither the two- to three-minute span of a broadcast news segment nor the 800-word limit of a newspaper story allow for a much more nuanced or comprehensive story than one that covers one of these single points.

The problem is that individual consumers like you and me gobble these stories up in an effort to educate ourselves and make proactive, informed decisions about our own homes and mortgages. And the media fire hose of all of these stories look at the national market from 20,000 feet but do little or nothing to answer the actual questions we have.

And they do nothing to help us move forward in making the decisions we actually have to make: Is the market good or bad? And what does this mean for me? Should I buy, sell, refinance or walk away?