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Setting the Real Estate Record Straight

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On Sept 20th the Huffington Post produced an article, citing my research, about one of the most important sectors of the Canadian economy, that being the resale housing sector. The article reported on "claimed" errors currently taking place with national resale housing data.

The Huffington Post Canada was the first news source to ever obtain confirmation from two representatives of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and one regional MLS system's CEO, that CREA was counting some home sales multiple times.

What was even more surprising than CREA's acknowledgment of its data reporting errors was the subsequent rebuttal and the suppositions placed on me as for why I brought this and other serious issues to the attention of the media. As a father, I have watched as playground bullies often use their positions to berate and undermine those who challenge that bully's position. I can assure you the bullying tactics used by Mr. Klump in his blog response here on the Huffington Post will not be found to be an effective way of keeping the public in the dark over reporting errors, that by my calculations are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

My family has participated in building the Canadian MLS infrastructure for more than 40 years. I contributed to it for more than 25 years and as of today I probably have as much knowledge about how the entirety of the Canadian MLS infrastructure operates as anyone else. Over the last four years my research into the infrastructure revealed many issues that, as a member of organized real estate, I was dismayed to discover. So I was shocked when CREA allowed Mr. Klump's blog response.

Since the 1990s, CREA -- on the good advice of its legal staff -- has relied on ambiguous disclosures in its press releases that have strategically prevented any substantial oversight by the public or media of its data. Even CREA's own 106,000-plus members have no ability to check CREA's data directly. Mr. Klump's denials in that blog post opened doors that, for CREA's sake, should have remained closed. Mr. Klump openly credited numbers posted on RossKay.com to CREA and then went further and to claim those numbers posted were inaccurate.

Mr. Klump stated eight of the nine numbers I posted -- which he, not I, credited to CREA -- were incorrect, yet he did not supply a single number of his own to substantiate his claims. Readers must have wondered, why was no numerical proof provided by Mr. Klump?

Readers need to understand that the answer is simple. Posting a hard number would allow hundreds of checks to be done on previous CREA press releases by the many economists, researchers and government officials who have questioned the accuracy of CREA's numbers, month after month, year after year. Now hearing CREA admit that its agreements with the more than 56 regional MLS systems it uses in its reporting prevent CREA from vetting its national numbers, those skeptics would be even more critical in their subsequent historical review.

As to current credibility on issues of resale homes data, I think in all fairness Mr. Klump should have disclosed to all readers that CREA's own charts and numbers, as displayed on Sept 24th., the time his response appeared here in the Huffington Post, then didn't even match up. How can one claim credibility when in one example (there are many others in August alone), Edmonton, the Chart used in the release for Residential Sales Activity shows over 1750 sales yet the actual number reported in the same report now shows 1490 residential sales in August? Any economist or reporter who uses that CREA data should immediately review those numbers and charts (on regional drop downs) from their screen captures from Sept 20th.

As to the term "phantom listings" being credited to me, I have never used that term and hold no ownership on its creation. What I have stated is that this year alone thousands of single sales have been counted one, two and three times in some national totals and that this practice has occurred with an increasing frequency since 2010.

Mr. Klump also claimed the audited numbers posted on RossKay.com could not be accounted for solely by the multiple counts of a single sale, and then went further to state, that was the sole difference in the audited numbers versus what CREA claimed. Clearly he did not read my disclaimer because "multiple counting" is not the only serious issue attached to CREA data, when used for a month-over-month or year-over-year statistical comparison. So far in 2013 there were hundreds of reporting concerns covering tens of thousands of listings that CREA legally cannot report to you about, without it breaking regulations for either the Corporations Act or the Competition Act, yet it refuses to even tell Huffington Post readers this reality.

I hope the Huffington Post does not stop here. Each month Canadians, through the press, hear the talking points in national resale home updates. In August, Canadians spent more than $14 billion on resale homes, decisions partially based upon the information supplied to them from CREA.