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Beware the shortcomings of data on home prices and mortgage rates
Beware the shortcomings of data on home prices and mortgage rates

It has been said that figures lie and liars figure. But even when the numbers are truthful, they often are nearly meaningless. Take average home prices. They are widely reported by regional and local media, even though they are generally national in nature. Although it's nice to know that housing values throughout the country are up or down — or holding steady — the figures often have little meaning when it comes to what's happening on your block or in your neighborhood. David Rathgeber, a northern Virginia real estate broker, says home price data are "recreational" rather than actionable. He also rightly points out that the figures quoted are usually old...