Two high-profile reports on home sales this week confirmed that the housing market is still mired in a deep slump with prices still falling and sales activity sluggish at best. In fact, the market may be in much worse shape than even those numbers suggest.Read the rest here.
Figures from the National Association of Realtors that are among the most closely watched indicators on the housing market have been called into question by economists who say they may overstate existing-home sales activity by up to 20 percent.
The issue is more than just an academic dispute among economists. Without a working barometer, it's hard to see the next storm coming.
"It's very important for the industry but also for policy makers," said Mike Fratantoni, head of research at the Mortgage Bankers Association, one of the groups that is challenging the Realtors' data.
"Folks at the Fed and at the Treasury and anyone involved in economic policy throughout government are very concerned about the health of the housing market. So if your primary indicator is giving you an overly optimistic reading, that's cause for concern," he said.