In 2007, NAR came out with the now infamous “It’s a good time to buy” campaign. As home prices tumbled and the bubble had partially burst, NAR came out with the public confidence building campaign to encourage home ownership. This, of course, backfired with consumers and was distasteful to many agents who were sitting down with sellers struggling with their underwater home loans. As far as I was concerned, it was a PR disaster. It was like Philip Morris saying that smoking was good because it caused “between 943 million and 1.2 billion korunas (about $24 million-to-$30 million) in health-care, pension and public-housing costs due to the early deaths of smokers.” Read more See? Smoking is good because it kills people and it means we don’t have to take care of your sorry behind when you get old. Um, yeah, okie dokie on that.
PR disasters. From wardrobe malfunctions to trapped passengers on the runway to CEO’s on private jets while asking for bailouts, there have been some mistakes of epic proportions. You can put NAR’s campaign in that league as far as I’m concerned. You can’t tell people go out and buy with integrity, as people are losing their homes left and right. Negative consequences stink. The consequences to the NAR were minimal because the real consequences were to the membership, the REALTORS®. There was a poll on a forum recently that simply asked “who is more to blame for the meltdown…REALTORS® or Appraisers.” No mention of Wall Street and their credit default swaps. No mention of banks having quotas for loans. No mention of the Community Reinvestment Act. No mention of those AAA ratings.
REALTORS® have a serious PR problem. Why bring this up now? Beside the obvious fact that I like to ask and answer my own questions, the fact is that in many areas it is starting to be a good time to buy, finally. Propaganda is meeting reality, five years later, but nonetheless they are colliding. All my regular readers know I am a data geek, and I have been running the quarterly numbers for the Salem area which I will post in the next few days. The problem is that real estate agents can’t say this and be believed. That campaign that NAR ran in 2007, they should be running it now. The problem is they spouted off at the mouth early and completely discredited every real estate agent across the country with one fell swoop. It’s what everyone wants in their trade organization: to have the rug pulled out from underneath you, right?
What triggered this post was a flurry of status updates by real estate agents coming across my Facebook wall for the past month. I cringed every time an agent wrote “it’s a good time to buy” on their wall, not because it isn’t true, but because it reminds me AND more importantly consumers of that horrendous NAR video that came out. It reminds them that the trade organization representing the industry wasn’t honest. I encourage all real estate agents, whether you are a member of NAR or not, to steer clear of that phrase. Agents need to re-establish trust and credibility with consumers after being lead astray.
The fact is that the market is showing indications of stabilization. So my fellow agents, here is your chance to re-brand. Use it wisely.