Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Market for Distrust

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Market for Distrust

Article excerpt

When it comes to stories in the media about real estate, readers have developed a level of mistrust.

This is understandable, particularly when the people quoted in those articles are real estate brokers or economists employed by the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders or companies that make money from the transfer of real property from one party to another.

Afew years ago, brokers and economists were certain that the realty boom would continue, and that was reported in the media.

Then when the market went sour, these sources attempted to put the declining numbers in the best possible light. Exhibit "A" is the "Time2Buy" launched by the Sarasota Association of Realtors. That was in 2007. As it turned out, it was the time to not buy.

As for economists, in 2005, then-NAR chief economist David Lereah wrote a book titled "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" It was subtitled: "How Homes and Other Real Estate Investments Will Continue to Climb Through the End of the Decade -- And How to Profit From Them." The cover illustration showed a family looking up at a house floating overhead. (It crashed down on them.) Housing economists are being much more cautious in their predictions now.

Reporters wrote of the boom and the rosy predictions. Then they wrote of the crash and the foretelling of doom. Some hailed the honesty. Others, real estate people included, said the media was killing the market.

Now it is 2012, six years after real estate went into the tank hereabouts, and I am hearing encouraging reports from brokers and other realty pros about market activity, if not home values. Last week's column, "Agents say buyers are pouring in" (Jan. 29), brought nods of agreement from real estate agents. But it also generated howls of derision from some readers, who thought I was announcing the start of a new property "boom," a word that was not used in the column.

"You, sir, are a disgrace to your profession," one reader, claiming than my sources were "friends," wrote in an email. …

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