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Report inflated Hanna's Buffalo Niagara market lead

A national survey that identified real estate market leaders in the Buffalo Niagara region left some in the industry scratching their heads last week when the numbers didn't match those in a database used by local agents to track sales and listings.

The report by REAL Trends identified Howard Hanna Real Estate Services as the top player in the Western New York residential market in 2016, with more than twice the tally of "transaction sides" as No. 2 Hunt Real Estate Corp.

The survey was supposed to include only the firms' residential sales in the Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls metropolitan area.

But there was a big problem with that result: Hanna included the Southern Tier in its Buffalo figures, significantly inflating its self-reported results by including cities as far as Elmira, Corning, Binghamton and Scranton, Pa.

By contrast, Hunt included only Erie and Niagara counties, which make up the statistical metro area.

Hanna spokewoman Elizabeth Grepp said the firm grouped the added region with Buffalo because "there was no set place for the Southern Tier in New York to be reported."

"We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused," the firm said in a statement Thursday.

Scott Wright, manager of business analytics for Castle Rock, Colo.-based REAL Trends, acknowledged that faulty reporting can be a problem in the firm's individual market data.

While overall national figures for each firm are corroborated by an auditor or other third-party, that's not the case with the data for each metropolitan area, he said. The firm publishes what it is given, for those brokerages that choose to participate in the survey.

Specifically, the REAL Trends ranking cited 14,517 sides for Hanna.

In fact, a detailed report from the Multiple Listing Service database shows Hanna handled 7,695 residential sides in Erie and Niagara counties in 2016. The report counted the number of times a firm was involved in either the selling side or listing side of a sale for a single-family house, condo or townhouse, as well as small multi-family properties with two to four units.

By comparison, the MLS report shows Hunt had 5,353 sides, Keller Williams Realty Buffalo Northtown handled 1,597 and M.J. Peterson Corp. had 1,334.

Hunt brokers and executives took a big exception to the margin reported in the REAL Trends rankings, calling its data unreliable because there is no verification.

"Our policy has always been to grow organically first, and do whatever we can do to grow our market share based on a solid footing," Hunt said.

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