Thursday, May 24, 2007


Headlines are important. Not only do they draw attention to the story, but they also serve as the briefest of summaries for those who choose to skim.

So it is rather important that headlines at least somewhat represent the content of their associated articles. That is why I have a problem with this headline for an AP story on Yahoo:

"Home sales soar by record amount"

The first part of the article following this headline goes thusly:

WASHINGTON - The beleaguered housing industry is sending mixed signals, with sales of new homes surging in April by the biggest amount in 14 years while prices endured a record plunge.

Analysts said the price drop could provide evidence of builders' desperation. They are looking to reduce a glut of unsold homes in the face of the worst slump in sales in more than a decade.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new single-family homes jumped by 16.2 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 981,000 units.

That was the biggest one-month sales gain since a 16.4 percent surge in April 1993. Even with the increase, however, sales are 10.6 percent below the level of a year ago.

The median price of a new home — the midway point between the costliest and cheapest — fell to $229,100, a record 11.1 percent below the March level. The price was 10.9 percent below the level of a year ago, the biggest year-over-year price decline since 1970.

Analysts said the drop in prices probably reflected efforts by builders to cut prices more aggressively to sell homes.

They cautioned against reading too much 16.2 percent jump in sales, the first increase after three consecutive months of sales declines. Analysts noted that this series is subject to wide revisions and that much of the strength came from a big increase in the South, which they said could be partially weather-related.

If you were to only the read the headline, do you think you would come to the same conclusion as you would if you read even just the first paragraph of the story?

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