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VARbuzz: Home prices up; no, down; no, up; argh!

Ach, there are a lot of home-price numbers out there — some up, some down. Some are month to month, some are annual, some are seasonally adjusted, some are… you get the picture.

Check out this Zillow story (and yes, I know I pick on Zillow). In the space of two paragraphs it has three different figures for home prices:

Nationwide, prices fell 0.8% in February, the sixth-consecutive month of price declines, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller index released Tuesday. When adjusted for seasonal factors, prices rose 0.2%.

The latest Federal Housing Finance Agency index shows home prices rising 0.4% for the 12 months ended in February, the first 12-month increase since July 2007.

But then there’s this HousingWire story, which says

U.S. home values edged up 0.5% from February to March, making it the largest monthly increase in six years, real estate data firm Zillow said in its latest home value index.

That’s four numbers from Zillow alone! In fact, it could have added a fifth, because it left out the actual important number. Per the FHFA: “U.S. house prices rose 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from January to February, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s monthly House Price Index.”

And HousingWire also has a piece, “S&P/Case-Shiller: Home prices in nine metros reach new lows.

And the New York Times says that “The median sales price of a new home was $234,500 in March, down 1 percent from the February price, the Commerce Department reported.”

At some point people have to stop and realize that trying to follow trends like this is a fool’s game. When there are a dozen different ways (or more) to count something, they all lose a bit of credibility.

And then there are the gadzillions of people making predictions based on these figures! Seriously?

You know what’s going on. You’ve got your feet on the ground, clients on the phone, and — as far as I’m concerned — the only real and honest picture of the market.