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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Claiming media outlets were misusing the data, Utah Realtors have blocked public access to a popular database providing average home selling prices in neighborhoods along the Wasatch Front.
The data removed from the Wasatch Front Regional Multiple Listing Service's Web site at http://www.wfrmls.com was widely sought by sellers wanting to know if they were pricing their homes right and by buyers wanting to know whether sales prices were appropriate for the neighborhoods.
MLS President Jim Naccarato said he blocked access to the private database at the request of the Realtor groups that supply the MLS with home-sale data.
"We're not going to withhold the information from the public," said Robert Farnsworth, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. "We simply believe the information was being misused and we're going to make it available a different way."
Several media outlets reported results for the second quarter that ended in June just days after the quarter ended and before many of the home-sale transactions were recorded, Farnsworth said.
Some media outlets also reported some of the information incorrectly, and ultimately, all media outlets reported different data based on the varying times individuals pulled data from the database, he said.
Farnsworth said the Realtor boards are in talks with the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, which they hope will agree to analyze and release the data on a regular basis working with the Multiple Listing Service. He said by working with the bureau, Realtors can ensure reports are compiled correctly at the correct time.
Farnsworth said he doesn't yet know in what form the information will be released and how the public will be able to access it.
Homeowners using the MLS site used to be able to obtain average selling prices for homes and condominiums in any ZIP code area in Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, Davis and Weber counties or countywide. They could find out the average selling price for the current month or quarter and how those prices compared with previous periods. The number of properties that sold within specific time periods also was available.
Farnsworth said average and median selling prices in ZIP code areas along the Wasatch Front likely will continue to be available, as will further analysis by the university bureau. He would like to home-sale information released monthly, like other economic data such as bankruptcies and unemployment.
He would also like to see how home sale statistics compare with other economic data.
"We want something bigger and better than we had before," he said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)