I have a strong distaste for entities that manipulate statistics for their own marketing purposes. See, for example, Private Equity Floats – Duds and You Know It.
Realestate.com.au offers a more recent example. Their annual Housing Affordability Sentiment Index includes, for all I know, some useful findings. But the PR crap spawned from it is anything but enlightening.
Take one sentence from the article Gen Y: are they the new property moguls?:
In fact, 89% of Gen Y property owners surveyed bought their first property before they were 30 years old, and 9% purchased when they were less than 20 years old – a larger percentage than any of the other generations.
Can you see it? Read again.
It’s a survey of property owners only. And the subset they’re focusing on here is Generation Y, which they’ve defined as being born between 1981 and 1994. Assuming an even distribution of births over that period, some 73% of that age cohort hasn’t even turned 30 yet.
If we interview an age cohort of property owners that are mostly under 30, how can they not have a high percentage owning property before age 30? And how is the number generated useful in comparison with the experience of, say, property-owning boomers who have had 30 more years to come to the party late? And how on earth can you claim it as potential evidence against the 'perception that younger people are locked out of the property market' without incorporating non-owners into that paragraph?
This is pure statistical manipulation, worthy of derision. It’s poorly disguised marketing designed to get more of Generation Y leveraged up and buying more property through realestate.com.au, rather than sharing the genuinely useful insights that such a survey should offer. The problem, unfortunately, is that there is no real downside for a company releasing such crap, and they'll probably sell a few more houses.
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