Shhh, The Media Doesn't Know

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CalBRE License #01490977

 I suspect the media prides themselves on being on top of what's going on in the world. And certainly there are some stellar investigative reporters and documentary movie makers who do bring the reality of the world's events to us on the Internet, in print and on the TV, often as they are happening. 

Such is not the case with the housing market. (graphic is a link)

No Doom Gloom Blog

Media headlines gleefully proclaim the nastiness of the real estate market, among other doom and gloom news, relying on published reports, regional statistics, and trends based on what has happened in months past as opposed to the current reality. Is it because they relish the idea of promoting the negativity, the bad news, the horror stories? Or is it because true investigative reporting seems to have eluded so many who claim to be reporters, at least with respect to real estate? 

The axiom that real estate is local is widely known, except perhaps to the media at large (OK, forgive me, I admit there are exceptions). But despite much being written on-line by practitioners in the business who DO know the local market, the media seems content to continue reporting the same stuff they have been, and which seems much the same no matter what you read or where you read it. 

  • Does no one care about reporting what is going on locally in many areas?
  • Of touching bases with the people who have the information and knowledge about what is happening beyond the headlines that scream at us from the front pages? 

What you see is not what you getThe media doesn't know what is going on in real time, at least if they do they don't seem to report it. Or perhaps I have been too busy, and too tired of reading the same old headlines to notice if they are catching on to the trends folks in the know...the agents, and the buyers...are aware of. 

I wrote about a recent situation with a real sale that was a throwback to the days of the seller's market, with numerous offers, many above asking. I described it as a feeding frenzy. What was particularly intriguing were the comments from ActiveRain agents from other areas reporting much the same thing, and not just with one sale but multiple transactions. This is not just one example, a fluke, but what appears to be a change in the market, at least in some segments outside of distress sales. And it has an impact, or should, on buyer behavior. 

Sure, it may be short lived, and not a long term trend, although time will tell. But the media doesn't seem to know what this is going on.

There is much anecdotal evidence of significantly increased buyer activity, at different phases of the buying process, in our area, and I imagine in others, too - mortgage inquiries, open house attendance, offers, showings - yet this remains, from what I have seen, hidden from the media's scrutiny. And until it reaches the level of a published report, or a press release from NAR or other real estate organizations, I suspect that will not change. And even then those reports are not real time.

We, as real estate practitioners, have the ability, and perhaps the obligation, to publicize the changes and trends we see and the statistics we have, in order for the public to really understand the realities of their local markets so they, in turn, can make informed decisions about real estate. Our posts, and social media sites, allow us to do so in real time, to provide breaking news that consumers WANT and NEED to know that may influence their choices. 

We cannot, and should not, rely on the media to report this information, for they have not demonstrated their ability to do so fairly and accurately. But our own reporting can make a difference, and perhaps will, in time, influence the manner in which the media reports on the housing market in general. And the consumer will gain by receiving information that is not some generic headline with a slant that obliterates the reality of local real estate trends, but data and trends that are meaningful because they are happening now and can impact decision making.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jean Terry 04/17/2009 03:40 AM
  2. Janice Roosevelt 04/20/2009 08:57 AM
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Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

Excellent points Jeff.  It is so frustrating to read the broad-brushed approach to our national and even regional markets.  Like most, my local market is never quite in step with the broad trends and vary greatly by price, location etc.  It is so important for us Realtors to provide the local information to home buyers and sellers.

Apr 17, 2009 06:14 AM #30
Mary Thompson
Lanier Appraisal Service - Flowery Branch, GA
Lake Lanier Appraiser in North Georgia

Hey Jeff:

Oh I could not agree more. I really HATE the media. They love the negative news. They love sensational news and they are always behind. Case in point. Just in the past several weeks the news is making a big deal about TWITTER....GEEZ, where have they been Twitter has been around for quite some time now and Google if they have not done so already was looking to purchase Twitter!

As an appraiser I can tell your readers this.....We are breaking down the numbers in 3 month increments and guess what, here in Georgia, even in some of the hardest hit areas, I am finding the big S word the past 3 months.

Sure values are still way less than they were a year or 2 ago, but CURRENT day stats or past 3 months stats, assuming some margin for error, shows a flattening or stabilizing values. So this is GOOD news.

Great post!



Apr 17, 2009 06:39 AM #31
Robert T. Boyer
FHA Loan, VA Loan, Jumbo Loan,FHA Loans,VA Loans,Jumbo Loans - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate & Mortgage Loans, Ph.D. | VA Home Loan

Great post and oh so true.  I had the opportunity to be interviewed a little over a year ago, but found myself having to respond more to the interviewers' bias than on any message I might have liked.

Apr 17, 2009 08:23 AM #32
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ

Jeff, don't you just wish the media would ask a LOCAL agent? It amazes me how much they seem to know. I'll be posting another MLS Stats today for our market. Inventory as of January has continued to decrease. Will it stay there? Only someone with a crystal ball would know that. I just report what I "know" is happening in our market. Loved your post. ;-)

Apr 17, 2009 08:37 AM #33
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

I don't feel or believe that the "National Media" has any intent or interest in "reporting" any news but rather pushing their OPINIONS onto the public be it about real estate or much of anything else.  I think it's disgraceful and such a disservice to the American public who had always believed that the responsibility of "the News" was to honestly report it no matter what their personal opinion.


Apr 17, 2009 08:57 AM #34
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

If it bleeds, it leads . . . as that media mantra resounds.  Now have someone actually come to fisticuffs over a housing feeding frenzy . . . that's gonna make the news!

Apr 17, 2009 10:11 AM #35
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Jeff, we actually had a reporter write and article which highlighted this trend locally in the West Michigan area recently. One thing which I found interesting was the negative feedback expressed by some commentators on the article.  I think some people just wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they couldn't feed on bad news.

Apr 17, 2009 10:42 AM #36
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I am in Los Angeles getting ready to present real estate investments in Oklahoma that are still appreciating to california buyers. At the same event, Orlando Florida is touting 60% off 2005 prices. Denver Colorado is here offering fix and flip repos, Ohio is here with guaranteed rents and buy backs. This is life's rich pageant. Local my foot, how about microlocal?  

Apr 17, 2009 11:02 AM #37
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Jeff -- Right on!  I find it ironic today that many of the HGTV shows seem like it's the 2005 market.  I know they air in the future, but they seem to be...oh...about 4 years behind the times.  The other media, no comment.  All real estate is LOCAL.

Apr 17, 2009 01:28 PM #38
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Frankly I don't pay much attention to what I read from the news. I do think that bad news sells quicker than good news so they tend to play up the negativity. Not surprising really is it?

Patricia Aulson/Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Apr 17, 2009 01:44 PM #39
Regina P. Brown
California Coast & Country Homes, Inc. - San Luis Obispo, CA
e-Pro Realtor

Jeff, the media needs to listen to US, not vice-versa.  We ARE the news!  Yes, I've seen multiple offers on nearly every property that's gone into escrow.  Amazingly, many are all-cash investors.  So we know there's money out there, and we know there are lots of buyers.  You're right on the money!

Apr 17, 2009 03:43 PM #40
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

I am seeing a lot of multiple offer situations on many different properties.  It seems like other people are as well, but doom and gloom must be more fun for the media.

Apr 17, 2009 04:52 PM #41
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Real Estate is local... Just because the sky is falling in CA, FL and other areas does not mean it is in every market.

If one listed to the media.. Everything is Doom and Gloom.... Ummmm... Yeah Right.

Apr 17, 2009 05:01 PM #42

As a consumer, I read the newspaper daily. I read stories of doom and gloom about every aspect of our economy. I see that California has 12% unemployment, that housing values have dropped drastically in virtually all states and that foreclosures are up nationwide. I read about scam mortgage operations past and present, and I read about Bernie Madoff ripping investors off for $65 billion dollars. I see new taxes being levied against everyone...for everything...and I see schoolteachers losing their jobs by the thousands. I read about AIG scandals, and bonuses being paid from our tax money.

I also read stories about real estate sales being down in most areas (at least from the levels they were at two years ago). I see statistics provided by reputable companies like Dataquick proving those points...and evidence presented by the media in all of the other matters mentioned above.

But I (like the majority of you folks here),

DON'T BELIEVE ANY OF IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not a single word!

I hope for your industry's sake that this blog isn't representative of how the majority of your profession thinks!

It would be embarrassing. Are there exceptions to some of the doom and gloom stories?? Of course there are. But getting multiple offers on a home that two years ago sold for $576,000 and is now selling for $185,000 ONLY ADDS TO THE DOOM AND GLOOM THAT THE MEDIA IS REPORTING.

Doesn't anyone here get that?


Apr 17, 2009 07:20 PM #43
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Jeff - I agree wholeheartedly.  The media really never reports much positive news at all, regardless of the topic.  Almost every one of my 18 agents has reported being involved in multiple offer situations already in 2009, and (unlike Stephen's comment just above) these are all properties where the seller is profitting from the sale, NOT losing money.  There are pockets here that declined last year, but overall we experienced a small amount of appreciation, rather than losing any ground.

Apr 18, 2009 02:15 AM #44
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Kate - I so agree. And I think more and more consumers are realizing that the info in the headlines is NOT an accurate representation of our housing market on the local level.

Pat - no question about it. Hope you are enjoying Paris too and NOT spending too much time on AR. Your buyers will be waiting for you.

Ron - I know, I know. I was trying to be fair and accurate. My bad. Good news for your area.

Lenn - right on point.

Tim - and that's why so many folks now are getting THEIR news on-line. Faster and more accurate. Newspaper readership is changing dramatically.

Scott - and that is a great example of what we can and should be doing with consumers - when talking with them, emailing, and writing on-line.

Sally and David - excellent point. We can all help spread the word.


Apr 18, 2009 02:41 AM #45

Mr. Crouch,

I can see that you're from Austin, an area I'm quite familiar with (I do some commercial real estate investing). Our company subscribes to a service called Altos Research. Are you familiar with that service? They report real estate statistics in real time, and are not swayed by emotion or media hype.

There are some interesting graphs on real-time market activity in Austin that can be found here:

The information does support your claim that the Austin market has been spared much of the downturn as compared to many other areas in the country. However, it looks as though some of the upswing has happened only in the last month, and that the area still isn't where it was as recently as 9 months ago.

Are you also aware that commercial real estate in Austin was down 56% in 2008 from the previous year? And that part of its recovery now is due to the fact that foreign investors rank Austin as their 11th favorite city to invest in throughout the entire United States? That's spelled FOREIGN investment.

Lastly, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there are sellers in every market who are still able to profit from the sale of their home. If they've owned their home for seven years or more, it's likely that they're getting out of the deal with money still left in their pockets. After all, they bought their home for $100,000, watched it appreciate to $280,000, and now can sell it for $160,000 and still walk away relatively unscathed. The ones I feel sorry for (even in Austin) are the 1,000's who paid $280,000. They can't sell, and will likely join the ranks of those who have been foreclosed upon.

Multiple offers are a consequence of bargain basement prices, and sellers who bought less than five years ago are not profiting, I assure you.

I'm not sure I would paint all of the above as a positive just yet. It all still sounds "doomy and gloomy" if you ask me.

Stephen S.


Apr 18, 2009 04:26 AM #46
Mark Brian
Silver Star Real Estate LLC - Anderson, SC
Anderson SC Realtor

I take anything reported in the media with a grain of salt. No news sells like bad news and they know it.

Apr 18, 2009 06:45 AM #47
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Missy - we are seeing the same thing here. It's good that these properties are selling and the amount of activity suggests there is a fari amount of demand, at least in some segments of the local markets

Susie - well we don't want to try to reat good news if it does not exist, and we shoudl report what se see as the facts on the local leve. My griup with the reports in the media is that they are too generalized to really be meaningful.

Bill - that does seem to be the case. And I suppose as long as people understand that what they read may not always be true or accurate then it is less of an issue.

Mary - in a general sense I think that is right. I suppose there are exceptions, though.

Sandy - I can't argue with that


Apr 18, 2009 12:18 PM #48
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Jason - how true. LIke the banks, the media doesn't sell real estate and doesn't necessarily understand it adn how it works. So they rely on reports that find without understanding the context ot what it means. Sure, there are exceptions.

Thanks, Renee. Your point about our responsibility to report information accurately to our clients is key, whether it is "good" news of not. They need to understand what is happening in teh local market and how it can affect them. Does this mean we ignore the larger issues? No, because they ultimately can mpact the local market too - increasging unployment being just one example.

Frank and Jodi - good for you! I hear from many buyers that they do not pay alot of attention to the mediae reports.


Apr 18, 2009 12:28 PM #49
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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