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Dec. 3, 2022

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Redfin data led to error in Washington Post’s housing story about Clark County

By , Columbian staff reporter

In February, the Washington Post mistakenly published inaccurate data about Clark County’s rate of corporately purchased homes. The story, which used data from real estate brokerage platform Redfin, stated that multiple ZIP codes in Clark County had the majority of new homes purchased by investors — up to 60 percent in some ZIP codes.

The Columbian launched its own investigation and found that investors actually bought only about 2.5 percent of homes in the last few years. The Columbian contacted Redfin with the correct data. Redfin then contacted the Washington Post, and the D.C.-based newspaper changed the story online, but not before the information spread online to local readers for months.

Redfin told The Columbian that the discrepancy was a data issue on its end.

“It seems that our data provider may not have sent us complete sales records for the Washington ZIP codes that are considered to be within the Portland metro — that’s why the Oregon ZIP codes look reasonable, while the Washington ones stand out so much,” a spokesperson for Redfin wrote in an email.

In the U.S., some major metro areas saw investors buy nearly one in seven homes in 2021, the Washington Post reported in its story. In some cases, these investors are pushing potential first-time homebuyers out of a market that already has a highly limited supply of housing.

“Investors” were labeled as buyers whose names include the keywords “LLC,” “Inc,” “corp,” “homes” or “company.”

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The Columbian obtained 10 years of Clark County Assessor’s Office data and found that local real estate agents and local economists aren’t concerned that corporations or even local residents are buying a second home for extra income.

Regardless, there is some indication that it’s reducing first-time homebuyers’ ability to purchase a home at an affordable price, and the result is that more people are renting in Clark County and seeing massive rental rate increases — also missing out on the equity gains of long-term homeownership.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit