Andrew Galvin of The Orange County Register writes about how the foreclosure data from RealtyTrac that is widely used by business journalists covering real estate is actually overstated.
Galvin wrote, “Since RealtyTrac began putting out the news releases in 2005, the number of unique visitors to its Web site has tripled to 3 million a month, said Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s vice president of marketing. That’s hugely important for the company because selling foreclosure listings through its Web site is how RealtyTrac makes money.
“But questions are being raised about whether the firm’s oft-cited numbers overstate the real dimensions of the foreclosure problem. And that could create a problem for the company’s credibility.
“For example, last year, RealtyTrac’s data showed Colorado had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate. That didn’t sit well with state officials, who decided to do their own count of foreclosures and came up with a figure much smaller than RealtyTrac’s.
“Then, in July, RealtyTrac reported 12,602 foreclosure actions in Georgia, giving the state the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate. When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looked into the numbers, the newspaper found that RealtyTrac had counted more than 2,000 properties twice and sometimes more.”
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