After complaints, foreclosure data that media reports is changed
Sam Ali of the Newark Star-Ledger reports Tuesday that the foreclosure numbers collected by California-based RealtyTrac — and widely quoted in the media — are being revised after complaints from people in the housing industry.
Ali wrote, “Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing at RealtyTrac, said the company decided to fine-tune its figures because too many people — including the media — were misinterpreting the foreclosure numbers.
“‘We stand by our numbers and always have, because they are exactly what is in the public record,’ Sharga said. “But we want to provide a greater level of detail now … so people don’t misinterpret what we are reporting.’
“Part of the problem is how housing experts define ‘foreclosure.’
“Foreclosure is not a single event but rather a sequence of events that in some states, including New Jersey, can drag on for a year or more, Sharga noted.”
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Last month, David Streitfeld of the Los Angeles Times brought attention to the problems with the RealtyTrac numbers.
He wrote, “The conflicting numbers are adding an acrimonious edge to the discussion. The dispute gets particularly heated over the figures from RealtyTrac, an Irvine firm that has become perhaps the most widely cited authority in the field.
“RealtyTrac’s numbers tend to top all other figures because the company counts every step in the foreclosure process â€” the notice of default, the auction, the house reverting to the lender â€” separately. One house might be tallied several times as a foreclosure.”