Up to date news on the happenings in Eddystone, PA. For such a small town, there's always BIG drama...inside and outside Borough Council Chambers.

In the words of Mark Twain, "Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable"

Paul Luce wrote an article about the housing market in the Sunday (10/30/11) Daily Times, This is the same housing market issue written about on Erock’s Beat two weeks ago.  Interestingly enough, Mr. Luce compares Eddystone to Trainer in his article, just as I did two weeks ago.  This is a great thing for Eddystone residents, as it provides even more information for people to absorb. 

Luce’s article published a vastly different result than the one published on the blog and cited to The Philadelphia Inquirer.  This may seem confusing to readers.  In Luce's article, Eddystone and Trainer both show significant home value loses in the last 9 months whereas, I described Trainer showing a 40% increase in home value and Eddystone showing a 50% decrease over five years.

How could we both be talking about housing values in the same two towns and get vastly different results?

Luce cites the most recent Prudential Fox & Roach HomeExpert Market Report, while I cited a five- year study analyzed by Econosult where housing trends over a long period of time were analyzed.  In both studies, median home values were analyzed. 

With median numbers in a short period of time, data can be skewed and results can vary significantly.  It does not mean that the statistics are wrong.  It does mean that the current prices are volatile.   According the Prudential Report online, less than 10 actual home sales occurred in Eddystone and in Trainer.  On the other hand, in the Econsult study I cited, more than 3 times that number of home sales were analyzed to make the comparison. It should also be noted that the Econsult study included any house in the Prudential Report sold before June 30, 2011.

When analyzing statistics, the actual numbers being used are important.  Just as essential to conclusion are the answers to the questions why the statistics were collected and how they were collected.  Consider the two studies referenced above and ask yourself why were they done and how were they done.

Let’s say I was studying coffee drinkers.  If I decided to study people from 12 PM-5 AM over the course of a month, I may see them drink an occasional cup of coffee after dinner.   Maybe they don’t drink coffee in the evening, so I may not see them drink any coffee.  Based on my observations, I could conclude they either don’t drink coffee or they very rarely do so.

By observing them from 12 PM to 5 AM, however, I missed the seven hours right after they woke up.  Maybe they drink a pot of coffee in the morning but because of my research design, my conclusions do not include this. 

This may have been an intentional decision made by the researcher.  Perhaps I was studying how much coffee people drink after lunch to inform restaurants about how much coffee they should brew in the evening hours.  The morning pot, then, is irrelevant to why I am collecting data.  Knowing why data is collected is equally as important as actually collecting it if we are going to analyze it accurately.

In the case of both of the housing reports, actual sales prices were used and reported.  The ‘how’ the data was collected is the same.  The difference in the two reports comes with the answer to the question ‘why’ was the data collected.  As written in Mr. Luce's article, Prudential Fox & Roach, a real estate company, needs up-to-date, accurate market data to advise clients on the current market conditions if they were selling their house today.  Therefore, in order to allow their realtors the ability make informed decisions, the Prudential Report collects data every quarter (about 4 months).  On the other hand, the Econosult report was collected to show long-term housing trends.  Those researchers could then conclude the trajectory of our area, which could then be used by long term planning commissions to make decisions about how to best build up communities for future positive growth.

Statistics can be tricky.  The numbers are important, but so are the answers to the questions ‘how’ and ‘why’ the data was collected.  One thing is troubling for Eddystone residents in both reports-our housing values are more than 50% lower than they were a few years ago.  The question I have after reading both of these studies is this; what are we going to do to fix this problem? 

Luce's article does not dispute the claims made by Econsult that the river communities have structural concerns, nor did it dispute the fact that Eddystone’s housing market is worse than almost every community in Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, and Philadelphia Counties or Southern New Jersey. 

How is Eddystone going to break the downward cycle if we do not change our overall structure?