Monkeying With The Numbers in Ape Country: Tarzana, CA

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Ziprealty recently issued its report of real estate statistics covering the fourth quarter of 2009.

This report never fails to attract a great deal of media attention, and makes headlines all over the blogosphere.   But you might want to take those (and similar) statistics with a grain of salt.

Among the hottest markets in the country reported by Ziprealty, was one zip code located in a well-heeled area of the San Fernando Valley, namely, Tarzana the quaintly-named former home of, you guessed it, Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan.

Here’s ZipRealty’s top ten “hottest” zip codes for the entire country in the fourth quarter:

I’ll be honest, these figures caused me to scratch my head a bit.   When I drilled down to just Southern California, it got even weirder.  I know that Tarzana (the “hottest” zip code in So Cal, according to Ziprealty) differs markedly in every demographic respect from the next “hottest” zip codes.  Tarzana, unlike the other “hot” area codes is not known for an abundance of cheap foreclosures which have been attracting multiple offers in places like Palmdale.  Instead, Tarzana is a far more upscale community, and has a lot more demographics in common with some of the “coldest” areas such as Beverly Hills and Bel Air then it does with the tumbleweed-strewn high desert community of Palmdale or Moreno Valley, to say nothing of San Bernardino (where foreclosures have lead to serious problems with “vacant homes, brown lawns, green swimming pools, and other blight” according to the Board of Supervisors).

Here’s the full report from Ziprealty.

It just didn’t make sense.  Clearly, something was amiss with these figures.  When I looked at the closed escrows during the fourth quarter I realized that the statistics had gotten VERY messed up, and it wasn’t too hard to see why.

I jumped onto the MLS and I quickly found the leading culprit — a property that had been listed for $799,000 and which sold, according to the public records for $800,000 was listed as sold on the MLS for $7,790,000.   So, sorry Tarzanians, but your zip code is not that hot, unless you are talking about the weather!

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