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Numbers are useful, but they can also be very tricky. Recently, there have been some pretty confusing articles being written about Toronto's real estate sales. We'll provide some examples and some thoughts about these articles in a Two Part blog. Here's Part One...

The Huffington Post recently reported that phantom listings were artificially driving up the GTA's sales numbers. This has lead to speculation that the real estate industry is deliberately deceiving the public. Let's look at why an agent would post a property in two or more boards at the same time (the second board listing is 'the phantom listing'). If you have a farm for sale near Belleville, and your target market includes both Belleville residents and Torontonians that want a second home, you would want the same information to reach both areas. You'd likely list it on TREB and on QDAR. Here's the problem - when the property sells, it could count as a sale in both the TREB and QDAR numbers. This would 'skew' the numbers by making the single sale count as two separate sales in Ontario, artificially inflating the number of sales. However, far from being a deceptive trick to skew the sales numbers, this is an honest attempt to get the information out to the broadest audience possible.

Is this a new practice? No. Listing properties across boards has been happening for years. Are the numbers from 2013 slightly wrong because of 'phantom listings'? Yes. They're likely just as wrong as the numbers from 2012 were. And 2011, 2010, ... And so on. The system isn't perfect, but I'm not putting my listings up across boards to try to deceive anyone. I just want to provide the best service possible for my clients by exposing it to the most people. By the way... that listing in Belleville was from 2009, so we may want to revise Ontario's real estate sales numbers DOWN by one for that year...

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