Innumeracy is Perfect for Entertaining
Wall Street Journal was looking hard for a story.
Earlier this morning, WSJ tweeted, “Nearly 1 in 64 U.S. homes for sale are described as “perfect for entertaining” – up 15% from the past year.” My immediate reaction was, “This year, hardly anybody included the phrase ‘perfect for entertaining’ in their home listings. Again.” The article being promoted, “Pitching Houses With Entertaining Spaces: With the market perking up, more homes across the country are pitched as ‘perfect for entertaining’,” did not allay my skepticism.
Home buyers want to have fun again.
There was a point when they didn’t?
In the years immediately following the housing bust in late 2007, real-estate agents focused on functionality and facts, like the square footage and condition of the house, to convince buyers that they were getting a good deal. Now with the market improving, sellers are seeking to establish an emotional connection with buyers by focusing on lifestyle features instead.
Oddly, they were doing that before the housing bubble burst, too. Listings always include that information. How else would you decide which homes to visit. Descriptors like “perfect for entertaining” may entice but they’re meaningless.
As a result, nearly 2% of homes on the market are described as “perfect for entertaining”—or one out of every 64 homes, according to an analysis by real-estate brokerage ZipRealty.
In in 64 is 1.56%, which is only “nearly 2%” if you don’t understand how percentages work.
That is a 15% increase over the past year.
So, last year it was 1. 41% of listings? Or, 1 in 66? I suppose that’s an interesting blip but one suspects its just a function of real estate agents having a herd instinct, tending to glom onto new buzzwords to stand out from the crowd.
It turns out that the phrase is really hot in a few areas, all of them in the western half of the country. Los Angeles tops the charts with 2.67% of the listings, followed by Denver (2.39%), Dallas (2.03%), Phoenix (1.97%), and Houston (1.61%). Put another way, even if the cities where the phrase is most prevalent, 97+ percent of listings do not contain the phrase. Which, again, is absolutely meaningless:
“A home doesn’t have to be large to be used for entertaining, but there has to be an area dedicated to it,” says Soren Bech, a real-estate agent with Town Residential in New York City. Mr. Bech has a $995,000 listing for a 700-square-foot Midtown condo with a 450-square-foot terrace. Though the apartment is small, the terrace offers both space and outdoor access—two premiums in New York, he says.
Nothing says “entertaining” like being forced onto the balcony of a prison cell-sized apartment.