The Wall Street Journal reports that existing home sales were down in November. “Without a doubt, there are too many buyers in relation to the sellers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That is probably the main driver as to why the sales declined.”

I’m not sure this makes any sense—high demand would normally prompt more people to sell, wouldn’t it?—but put that aside. What you really need is some context. Here it is:

Yes, existing home sales were down slightly in November, but the general trend is nothing but upward in recent months: up 23 percent since the beginning of the year and up 14 percent since July. Does this mean that suddenly, on November 1, there were too many buyers? Nah. It just means there’s noise in the data series.

Plus, it turns out that home prices were down slightly in November, which suggests lower demand, not higher. But I’d venture to guess that’s just noise too.

For some reason, both reporters and their sources feel like they have to provide an explanation for everything that happens in the economy on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. This has been going on forever (“The stock market fell on news of an Elvis sighting in Paraguay”), and it’s ridiculous. If there’s a trend to report, fine. But a single blip is really unlikely to have much of a reason behind it. Everyone needs to stop pretending otherwise.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate