By Carrie Resch, Contributing Writer
With their laptops at the ready and plenty of coffee to focus on the task at hand, 22 Northeast Florida real estate agents came ready to tackle the sometimes daunting world of statistics.
How to collect, analyze and interpret statistics and real-world scenarios in which analytical data could be applied were the topics at a December Northeast Florida Association of Realtors continuing education course.
“Become Your Market Expert: An Intro to Industry Data & Analysis” with instructor Fiorentina Dajci, was open to real estate agents and appraisers.
Dajci, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Kansas State University and is a professor of economics at Florida State College at Jacksonville, recently joined the Florida Realtors staff to start teaching in real estate. She has a self-described passion for data, research and statistics.
Course objectives included how to find statistics on the Florida Realtors website; how to calculate the mean, median and mode; and discussing what types of information can best be displayed utilizing graphs.
Microsoft Excel, Dajci said, can be a useful tool in which to enter data that can be used to create charts. As a hands-on activity, the class practiced entering data in an Excel spreadsheet.
Using the Florida Realtors website (floridarealtors.org), Dajci demonstrated how to pull data that will show the customer the “big picture.”
Ethically, real estate agents and industry specialists are required to pull unbiased data.
Median sales price, inventory of active listings, month’s supply of inventory and closed sales are all good indicators to use to paint the overall picture, Dajci suggested.
It can be misleading to report percentages without accompanying information about the actual data, Dajci warned.
And the smaller the sample size, the more obligation there is to provide actual numbers instead of just percentages, she said.
For example, a particular ZIP code, especially in the case of a large metropolitan county like Duval, is not necessarily a reliable representation of the entire area.
Instead, the same basis of comparison should be employed, for the most part, and then let the data speak for itself, Dajci said.
Ken Watson, a real estate agent with the Fred Miller Group, was hoping the class had more marketing information that he could apply.
“I wanted to learn how to market to my clients better — take the information that we have available to us and put it in a format that they could easily understand,” Watson said.
In his opinion, the abundance of information he received in the class was somewhat fragmented and it will take some time, he said, to digest the information.
He does, however, think he will use what he learned about making graphs from collected data.
Gina Evans, a real estate agent and director of marketing at Atlantic Palm Homes, sought out the class to learn how to better analyze market conditions.
Evans praised Dajci for giving the class a wealth of excellent information, but said she wishes a basic class had been offered as a precursor.
Dajci considered the feedback she received from Evans and other students and said she might structure the course differently in the future.
In addition, she may suggest the class be held in the computer lab next time to give students even more hands-on practice.
Still, Evans said she plans to use what she learned to substantiate her claims to builders, sellers or buyers.
“The more information you have, the better you can present whatever case you are trying to make — whether it’s on pricing, whether it’s on time on the market ... to say this is where I came up with this, I’m not just pulling figures out of the sky and it’s not just my opinion,” Evans said.