Another precinct heard from, and giving me a headache / Halstead

I get a headache trying to reconcile the various sources of data about what is happening in the market. Monday I addressed Miller Samuel’s Q2 report. Today I look at Halstead’s.
Compared to the Miller Samuel data, Halstead’s suggests that the loft market is not quite as strong, with average price per square foot for downtown lofts being up 7% year-over-year, but down from the first quarter of this year ($1,005 per ft now; $1,072 then).
Halstead claims more transactions than Miller Samuel – not sure why
But the Halstead format and presentation is frustrating. Only when you get to the end do you see that the overall number of transactions in the second quarter is reported as 2,655 sales (719 more than Miller Samuel reported for the same period), with no breakdown within geographic or market segments.
Thus, we can’t tell how many loft transactions Halstead tracked for the quarter. Worse, I can’t figure out why they use median sales price and median price per square foot, instead of averages, in the main loft presentation [page 6]. I think average is a more useful metric. Are they trying to differentiate from Miller Samuel?
And, they do only a year-over-year comparison for median loft prices (Q2 05 and Q2 06), instead of also showing performance for this quarter compared to the prior quarter. (They use both averages and medians elsewhere throughout the report; and report average price per square foot for the last five quarters elsewhere in the report [page 2].)
“Inventory” means whatever they want, apparently
Once again, Halstead uses as an “inventory” data point the number of new listings in the quarter (with both YOY and Q1 comparative data this time), which strikes me a misnomer. “Inventory” is “how much is available?”, not “how much new stuff came out?”. New stuff may be interesting in its own right, but not nearly as interesting as knowing what the market overhang is.
And more feh! Continuing the theme of happy-talk that I have blogged about, the loft commentary highlights numbers that went up, downplaying the numbers that went down:
Loft apartments in the Greenwich, East and West Village areas sold for a median of $1,024,500 during the second quarter, 21% higher than a year ago. In the Tribeca and Chelsea / Flatiron markets, the median price per square foot rose 17% and 15% respectively. from 2005’s second quarter despite a decline in the median price. Although the units sold were smaller than a year ago, they still fetched higher price per square foot prices.
I am spoiled by Miller Samuel (or maybe just cranky today), but the “commentary” is more of the “here’s a data point, and here’s another data point, and here’s yet another data point” variety, rather than any attempt to explain anything. And the commentary refers to data not provided anywhere in the report (the many references to the size of units sold).
Cranky, maybe. But I get a headache trying to compare reports that have different data.
© Sandy Mattingly 2006
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