Stop and look at the %$#^&* numbers!

When I was working for the Roanoke Times, a bear got loose from (I believe) the zoo. It was caught without incident. But one of the photographers who had been listening to the whole thing on the police scanner quipped, "I was hoping it would head over to the Salem Fair."

Bad news sells papers and gets people to tune in to the evening report.

A solid housing market doesn’t make news, but the "waily, waily, waily" of a down market can. ("Woman commits suicide over foreclosure" — remember that from last week?)

It’s a bit wearing.

Enter the Real Estate Bloggers with a post, "26 Things The Media ISN’T Telling You About The Real Estate Market."

It’s time for the media to quit all the doom and gloom reporting, even if it gets more ratings than fluff stories; for the lazy agent to quit whining that there’s no work to go after; and for everyone to realize that what we’re REALLY seeing across most of the country is simply the leveling out of a major housing boom.

What follows is a list of facts gleaned from various sources. A few are worth pointing out.

4.  Only 15 out of 50 states have shown any actual price decline in the past year. The rest still show modest appreciation in home values.

Virginia had an overall increase of home values of six percent from the second quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2008.

8.  A “boom” in economic terms means a period of unsustainable growth – with the term unsustainable being the keyword. In the real estate world, a boom market is considered one in which prices have risen over 30% in 3 years, while a bust market is one in which home prices have dropped by at least 15% over a 5-year span. By that definition, very few markets are experiencing a bust. It is more likely that prices are simply bottoming out from the big boom. (According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.)

Definitions can be tricky things. We’ve all see how terms like "bull market," "recession," even "torture" can be redefined to suit your point of view. But "housing bust" is a lot stronger than "post-boom housing readjustment."

21.  Most of the decline is seen around 2 main types of markets: weak, industrial economies that are under pressure from the struggles of the Big Three automakers; and the areas that were previously part of the biggest boom markets.

Virginia, in case you hadn’t noticed, is neither.

No one’s saying the housing market is running on all cylinders, or that there hasn’t been a pretty major decline. That’s obvious. But a little perspective can go a long way, and a little hard data can help. Kudos to the Real Estate Bloggers for giving some of each.



25.  Many real estate agents are helping to fuel the supposed ‘market bust’ by giving in to fear and worry. They believe what the media and politicians are saying and are simply giving up, using the excuse that ‘the market’s no good.’ If agents’ were out there working hard, cultivating prospects and persuading people to buy or sell, the market would show definite improvement.

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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6 Responses to Stop and look at the %$#^&* numbers!

  1. Well stated, Andrew. It is all a matter of perspective and the media always tends to put their focus on the negative perspective.

  2. Tony Arko says:

    I live and work in Virginia and I talk to real people who are in real bad financial situations due to the real estate market. In their minds, they are most certainly experiencing a bust. And just because the current market conditions do not fit into a text book definition of a bust doesn’t mean it isn’t a bust.

    The media’s job is to sell commercials and ad space. And to think otherwise is foolish. Human nature will never allow us to look away from the train wreck and the current housing market is by all accounts a financial train wreck.

    My hope is that hundreds of thousands of realtors turn in the towel during this bust. That will allow the true professionals to clean up an industry that has lost the trust of the consumer.

  3. I truly believe that the media’s gloom and doom “forecasts” ushered in the current market, but the poor decisions of buyers, lenders and other industry professionals made this market unavoidable.

    IMHO to not recognize that it is a depressed market is contrary to your responsibility to your clients. Denial that we’re in a devastating housing market is foolish. Semantics are killing us and causing fear and confusion. It’s bad for the seller – the media can call it anything they want; but it’s still bad.

    I agree with Tony about the “cleansing” of the industry in regards to a lot of agents leaving… but they’ll be back – or replaced as the market starts normalizing in the next few years.

    A Seller who must sell doesn’t care that Virginia doesn’t fit the model, or that there has been a slight increase in the past year doesn’t relieve the stress or anxiety. Only a buyer for their home will do that….

  4. Matt Wilkins says:

    I agree that there needs to and probably will be a shakedown “cleansing” of the indusry to some extent. I also agree with Matthew that a stable or apprciating market will usher in a new crop of RE licensees. For our industry to truly “cleanse” itsself as Tony is hoping for, we need the consumers to speak up and “vote” by choosing who they use to represent them in their next real estate transaction wisely.

  5. I have to agree with you, unless there is blood in the water the news media wants nothing to do with the story. The real estate industry and REALTORS specifically are still their favorite target.

  6. I to am sick of the Doom and Gloom group. I also am suprised to hear that it is a bad market as I do not know what that means. I witness three types of markets. Those being, Seller’s Market, A Neutral Market(one where neither buyers or sellers have the upper hand), and a Buyer’s Market. Right now it is the buyer’s turn. We are seeing a buyer’s market where within reason they are allowed to call the shots.

    Also definitions of terms is very important as if we as a populous did not hold to strict meanings of words our legal system would be a mess. I believe that economic terms should only be used when they are fitting. Furthermore a national news outfit should not advertise that they are giving a National housing update and then only discuss two or three states.

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