Foreclosure story misleading

Tue, 06/26/2007 - 5:49pm
By: Letters to the ...

I was reading your article posted in The Citizen on Wednesday, June 13, 2007, entitled “Fayette foreclosures: A growing pain,” and I have concerns with your sensationalizing the foreclosure issue ... [such as] your statement, “As $600,000 homes continue to emerge from the county’s red clay, the foreclosure rate increase in 2007 is the highest in the Atlanta region.”

First, what possible relevance’s does the $600,000 homes in Fayette have with foreclosure rates or possibly with sub-prime loans? Your opening statement is totally useless. I can only assume that you’re doing this to sensationalize the issue or that you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

Secondly, by your own data, table 1, Fayette is 10th in foreclosures by counties, and not “... the highest in the Atlanta region.”

Misanalyzing your own data only leads to a lack of credibility.

Third, it’s very easy to sensationalize an issue by taking two data points, year 2000 foreclosure rates compared to 2006 rates, and conclude a huge problem exists.

If you average the foreclosure rates by county between 2000 and 2006 and then calculate the increase in 2006 from the average, then you’ll see that we’ve had a 40 percent increase in 2006 from the average. Needless to say, this is certainly ugly, but it’s not as overwhelming as the 131.9 percent that you’re stating.

Next, you state that 16 percent of Fayette’s foreclosures result from sub-prime lending. If we assume this is true for 2006, then 109 of the total 684 foreclosures in Fayette had sub-prime loans. Seems to me that a bigger problem exists outside of sub-prime and that perhaps you should be reporting on that.

Finally, it would be useful to understand the foreclosure rate frequency within price brackets. For instance, how many foreclosures occurred for homes less then $100k, $100k to $199k, $200k to $299k, $300k to $399k, and greater then $400k?

You should also include the total number of homes sold in each bracket. Then we can make rational decisions from the data instead of exaggerating the numbers and simply concluding that the problem relates to things we hear on television.

Going forward, I’m hopeful that your data analysis will improve during this summer-long series of foreclosures. Accurate data may be a little more boring, yet, I would consider a 40 percent increase in foreclosures in 2006 over the average foreclosures in the past six years to be newsworthy.

I do not work in the home/mortgage industry, and I do not live in a $600k home in Fayette. I’m interested in real facts and find it sad when poor data analysis is presented to the masses.

Alex Lussos

alex.lussos (at)

[The editor replies: The story states that Fayette’s rate of increase in foreclosures is the highest in the Atlanta region. That is accurate. Introducing an additional statistical step of averging six years’ worth of figures can be as misleading as relying on the raw data, whether the answer is “not as overwhelming” or not. An average can disguise or even distort raw number trends. The figures are what they are. Additional perspective is provided in two stories beginning on Page A1 in this edition.]

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