Monday, January 30, 2012

Broker Blames Advertising For Bad Market????

As long-time readers of this blog are aware, I have spent hours sharing my thoughts of a variety of specific real estate advertisements from web sites and newspapers, and demonstrating how much room there is for improvement in most cases.

This, along with continuous questioning of why realty associations continue to publicize negative statistics about home sales instead of only taking a positive slant.

Imagine my anger and frustration when I saw this story from this afternoon about a San Diego realty firm President complaining about how regional and national web sites which use information his office, and other realty offices, provide in order to enhance their (site's) home search capabilities.

The subject actually has the nerve to complain that this practice is partially to blame for the state of the current real estate market.

Immediately upon reading this nonsense, I offered up the following response on MediaPost, which originated this article:

+ + + + + + + + + + +
There are two sides to this story, which seems to only have covered one side. The story fails to point out how often (or seldom) some of the "other" sites update their listings and information. For example, my understanding is that Yahoo updates every week.

In addition, I have seen numerous instances where the content of a listing ad on a "national" site has differences compared to what is posted on a realty office web page or site. This story does not reflect that point of view. Furthermore, I can't believe that Mr. Abbott (who I do not know and to the best of my knowledge has not previously been a client) has the nerve to be publicly quoted that these other sites have "slowed the recovery of the housing market". He can't really think that if a potential buyer who has to enter specific criteria to search for homes in locations where his office has listings will give up if the one listing they look at is no longer available.

Having personally created more than 12,000 individual property ads during my 23 years of real estate related marketing and advertising duties, I can easily show him examples of how many realty firms do not even inspect ads they have directly placed within a variety of media and distribution sources.

All this while the very realty associations his office and its agents belong to continue to publish negative statistics about the current local housing markets. He should be asking his association people how reporting that (for example) "Local home sales were down 4.8% last month compared with a year ago" is a help to local sales. But, sure, Mr. Abbott can go ahead and blame other web sites which, so far, have been promoting information his people have created without his office or agents having to pay for it.
+ + + + + + + + + +

I have yet to check Mr. Abbott's office web site to review the listing advertisements on there, but it probably will be a fun task at some point in the near future. Considering the thousands of realty agents that love the fact that Yahoo, Trulia, and other large real estate related web sites bring themselves and their listings "free" additional publicity, there must be a reason why Abbott's advertisements are not producing any results for him and his people.

After all, he and I seem to agree that it takes better advertising and marketing of properties to improve the real estate market.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Can't We Trust The Big Banks?

Not only did the government bailout some larger banks by simply handing over millions of dollars and then not even making the banks accountable for it (since a percentage of it went for executive bonuses), but now more and more keeps coming out about the mess these banks have caused. And continue to cause:

However, those in the real estate community can't afford to sit back and wait and wait and wait to see if these banks, such as Bank of America, ever decide to get their act together.

Agents, mortgage brokers, and others who have regular contact with clients, should be alerting their current and potential clients about what can be done to keep on top of a home owner and potential home buyer's current mortgage situation.

If it were me, I would want my clients to know that I would help them to be certain that nothing like what is happening to the people profiled in the above linked article could happen to them. Then, I would make potential clients aware that I would be on the lookout for them.

Consumers need to start seeing that those within the industry are making an effort to improve current conditions regarding financing. Yet, a percentage of realty agents seem to forget about keeping in touch with past clients on matters such as this.

Paint the picture, if you are a realty agent. Suppose you do some digging, and find out a home owner is in trouble over an expired mortgage (such as happened in the article), and you alert your client and help him/her/them straighten the mess out. Can you imagine the referrals you would gain from that? Rather than imagine, start checking around.

Everyone needs to evaluate what bank or banks they do business with, mortgage or not. If the likes of Bank of America and Wells Fargo are struggling with 6 figure transactions, how much attention are they paying to your $5,000 checking account?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bank of America Plaza Goes To Foreclosure

It certainly seems as though the reporters are overlooking the irony of this story. It seems that Atlanta's "Bank of America Plaza" is up for foreclosure, and it is the tallest building in the city.

This would be newsworthy even it not named after a large bank. However, the fact that it IS named after this Bank is what makes this story so interesting:

There are several questions not being answered in this as well as other articles I have read about this, sense of humor aside. If B of A has naming rights and is a prime tenant there, how and why is this building in this position?

Shouldn't this be B of A's responsibility to bail it out? After all, the government chose to give B of A a lot of money when it tried to bail out the banks (instead of repaying certain loans, but that's another story) a couple years ago. So how do we justify B of A not taking the lead on this one?

There are numerous tenants in that building without financial difficulties that will likely be forced to relocate at their own expense because of still another bank having financial difficulty.

Here's hoping that an investment group with deep pockets gets this building at a bargain price, and becomes B of A's landlord. Time for a significant rent increase!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Finish This First - Then Move Forward

Moments after posting my comments about how the HARP program is delayed while the banks and local government officials continue to burn up hope for reviving the real estate industry, along comes this story:

The above linked article says that a new program is scheduled to begin within the next month that grants relief to the unemployed regarding their mortgages.

Don't think that some people in poor financial straits won't find an excuse to lose their jobs so they can skip out on mortgage payments. And to think this program could go through before the HARP program, which is designed to reward those who have faithfully made all of their mortgage payments on time but can't refinance because their homes have lost value.

This all leads to even more people who can't make their mortgage payments, are not able to sell their home, and are not able to financially qualify to purchase a home.

Shuffled Off By Buffalo

I started off this new year with some hope that just maybe the real estate market would show signs of life. Yet, by January 10th, I'm already discouraged by what I'm reading. Even worse, those who are doing the discouraging are those who have the power to change the situation - but still are not.

First, the government. The literally millions of current homeowners who owe more on their current mortgages than their home is considered to be worth at the moment COULD be helped by the HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) which was supposed to have started in December. It is designed to enable many faithful homeowners who have made their mortgage payments on time and in full despite the decreased value of the property to be able to refinance at a lower rate. However, the word is that this program may not be ready to go until March while the technicalities continue to be reviewed.

Of course, I can understand that a thorough review is needed given the potential billions of dollars riding on this Program. However, I cannot understand why this review wasn't done prior to the HARP program being approved. If there are literally more than two months of worth of technicalities to be reviewed, why weren't they clarified by the government and banking officials prior to this? Design it first and THEN review it?

Perhaps government officials should read news stories such as this one:

(The above story is about how the reduction in property values is resulting in lower property
taxes in many areas and how it translates to lower tax revenues for local governments.)

Since the various levels of government supposedly need money almost as much as we as consumers do these days, you would think that government officials would be on top of something that figures to bring in millions of dollars and also stimulate this economy.

Second, there is the "news" that the realty agents keep talking about.

Once again, consumers are being bombarded with negative statistics about the real estate market. Home sales are down compared with prior months and years. This story with more of the same from Buffalo brings my point home:

Frankly, this story is infuriating. "It's the bad economy" is one message. Home sales in 2011 were even worse than from 2010. If this news story was the result of an investigation of the marketplace by a reporter, at least we would know that it is a story with a local angle. Yet, this dose of negativity comes from the Realty Association, which is wholly supported by the area's real estate agents and offices. The same people who are supposed to be paid to SELL those houses.

Even worse, the Realty Association story further reflects the National Association of Realtors' comment that the housing market could be this "bad" for another two years. How does this help to sell homes?

Putting these stories all together, it means that government officials can't get their act together to enact a program that could stimulate the economy. If millions of homeowners can refinance at a lower rate, it significantly lowers the chances of foreclosure down the road. More importantly, many of those "saved" dollars each month would be put back into the economy in the form of retail sales, financial products, and possibly other investments. That could keep some retailers and businesses alive.

Instead, the government needs extra weeks to put their already approved mortgage plan into action? How does this happen?

On top of that, the realty agents who are supposed to be creating home sales are spending their finding negative statistics. Did someone apply force for these Associations to keep putting out the negative and discouraging statistics?

If the people in our government and within the real estate industry who could be making the difference aren't making a 100% effort, those of us who are stalled in our efforts and hampered financially by the current state of real estate need to put the pressure on.