Are North Shore real estate statistics useful?

Kenilworth Union Church, Kenilworth, IL

Anne West has just published July sales data for North Shore communities at her North Shore Views site – a must-visit for anyone interested in area real estate.

Real estate statistics are always problematic. National numbers are useless as an index of local conditions – markets are too variable, and too subject to local economic influences.

Local numbers, especially in smaller communities, are likely to be equally useless. The sample sizes are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions from them. The number of homes sold in Kenilworth in July, for example, is down by 50% - but only 3 sales occurred there last month. The median sale price in Glencoe was up 85% - but one or two high-priced sales could account for that even if the overall price trend was down.

The North Shore's housing stock varies widely in composition – from tiny starter homes to mega-mansions. The mix of homes in a sample of homes sold in any given community is likely to be sharply different from the previous month and from the same month in the previous year. Raw numbers simply convey no idea of what's being compared.

So, follow the statistical trends carefully, and enjoy yourself while doing so – but don't delude yourself into thinking that you've learned anything from them. Ask a knowledgeable Realtor about what's going on in the market instead.


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