To our readers

May 13, 2008

A real estate research firm apologized yesterday for producing a flawed report that formed the basis of a front-page article in The Sun on Thursday saying that sales of Baltimore-area homes priced between $120,000 and $249,999 rose nearly 20 percent in the first three months of the year versus the first three months of 2007.

Delta Associates had prepared the report by categorizing data from Rockville-based Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, the region's multiple-listing service. It said yesterday that it has determined that the mistake occurred because its calculation for the 2008 period included condominium sales while the calculation for the 2007 period did not.

New numbers provided by Delta Associates yesterday showed that sales of single-family homes excluding condominiums did not rise but instead dropped 26 percent in the $120,000 to $249,999 category.

Lower-priced homes did see a milder falloff in sales than more expensive homes. Sales of single-family homes priced at $250,000 or above declined 37 percent, including nearly 50 percent in the $500,000-plus category, Delta said.

"We're apologetic about the data error," said Sandy Paul, national research director at Delta, which is frequently cited by the news media and widely used by the real estate industry as a source of information and advisory services.

"It was an apples-to-oranges comparison. ... I do want to emphasize that the theme of the article, which is that lower-priced homes are selling at an accelerated volume versus higher-priced homes, is still the case."

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