Good News in a Bad News Headline

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt - Hart, MI

"March Housing Construction Drops 10.8 Percent"

By now you've probably seen headlines like this one. It's dramatic, it sounds like the world is ending for real estate, and it is just the kind of dramatic overstatement that makes me gag when I read the news. But have you actually READ the article? I've linked it to the headline.

Believe it or not, there's actually a lot of good news in there. The article explains that the percentage is based largely on the fact that multi-family home starts (apartments) are down, but in fact, single family home starts have stabilized. Here are two excerpts from the article which belie the headline:

"The much larger single-family sector actually stabilized in March at an annual rate of 358,000 units, the same level as February when single-family starts managed a small 0.6 percent rise."

"The bad news is that home construction is still in the tank. The good news is that single-family activity may finally be stabilizing," - Joel Naroff, an economist at Naroff Economic Advisers

question mark

So why the mixed message? No, wait, scratch that. Why the completely misleading, borderline outright lie of a headline? The answer is simple: bad news sells.

The media has adopted an attitude that no one wants good news. I am a fan of Fox News, which is where this article comes from. However, they are often just as prone to adopting this attitude as anyone else.

As a Realtor, I find it encouraging that apartment starts are down. This means that people are buying homes, and are less interested in renting. With low interest rates and low prices, the consumer is realizing that renting is not their only option.

Now, more than ever, it is extremely important that we perform as real estate educators, and not just salespersons. We have to counter this type of negativity, and make people aware that the sky is truly not falling.

Somebody get on the phone and tell Chicken Little he can come out, we're going to be OK. All we need is a healthy dose of reality. We've seen an increase in home sales in West Michigan real estate, and I'm doing my part to make sure the word gets out. You can help by reblogging and linking this blog to everyone you know.





Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. D B 04/20/2009 01:57 PM
Real Estate Market Trends
Michigan Oceana County Hart
Coldwell Banker Group
Greater GRAND RAPIDS, MI Real Estate
Kent County MI Real Estate
West Michigan Real Estate
real estate market
west michigan
housing starts

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Debra Drummond
RE/MAX Gallery - Plymouth, MI
MichiganMoves Real Estate in SE Michigan

Congrats on being featured Tim! I agree, it's gotten to the point where I don't even want to hear or read the news. Just keep on keeping on!

Apr 20, 2009 02:32 PM #12
Tim White
Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt - Hart, MI - Hart, MI

Thanks Debra! Marines like us have to keep on keeping on, it's what we do, right?

Apr 20, 2009 02:44 PM #13
Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

Great post Tim and congrats on the feature. I actually saw your tweet about the feature and clicked to check it out. How did you create the link in your tweet? I'm still learning. By the way, in response to your blog the other day about random acts of kindness, I did something today as a result of reading it, so your post made a difference.


Apr 20, 2009 03:31 PM #14
Mark MacKenzie
Phoenix, AZ


Thanks for your service.

I have looked at this data and I have written about it as well.

The previous month when housing starts spiked due to 5 or more unit starts surging, CNBC's headlines jumped on it and the stock market rallied.

I have found that there are two types of headlines out there, both good and bad, and the truth is somewhere in between.

Apr 20, 2009 03:34 PM #15
Tim White
Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt - Hart, MI - Hart, MI

Dan - First off, YOU ROCK! I think it's awesome that you commited a RAOK, and you're awesome for letting me know I made a difference. Thanks!

For the link in Twitter, I use a platform called TweetDeck. I did an earlier blog about Twitter that has the links, and some tips on using Twitter. That blog is here. In TweetDeck, there is a built-in URL shortener that shrinks your links and adds them to your tweet. It's too easy. Get it, and it will change your twitter experience (twexperience?).

Hope that helps Dan. You and Amy keep rockin' Cleveland. If you ever need any help, just drop me a line or give me a call.

Apr 20, 2009 03:38 PM #16
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

It's a shame that BAD news actually sells papers... Good news don't sell as many.

Apr 20, 2009 04:26 PM #17
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

It's also how you interpret the news.  The idea of fewer construction to me is a great help with the inventory.

Apr 20, 2009 04:49 PM #18
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

I had written something similar about not beliveing evrything we read or hear. It's good that you've pointed this out - we all need to focus on the positive, not the negative.

Apr 20, 2009 11:27 PM #19
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

P.S. When did you change the title of your blog? "Musings of A Jarhead Realtor"???? Sounds awfully familiar...;-)

Apr 20, 2009 11:28 PM #20
Tim White
Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt - Hart, MI - Hart, MI

Roland - Sad but true, isn't it?

Mike - I wholeheartedly agree. Prices and home values will only begin to come back up when we knock out some of this inventory.

William - Wow, I just went back to your blog, and it DOES sound awfully familiar. I guess I'm gonna need a new blog title! I must have been so impressed with your work that I subconsciously mimicked yours! You know, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Apr 21, 2009 12:46 AM #21
Jessica Jones
Sandestin Real Estate - Sandestin, FL
Destin Sandestin 30-A Real Estate

Tim - bad news does sell better unfortunately. But, we've noticed a rise in residential lot sales in the Emerald Coast of Florida. Builders around here are also talking to a lot more prospects. Which is great news!

Apr 21, 2009 01:30 AM #22
Paul McFadden
Paratex - Seattle, WA
Pest Control, Seattle, WA.

Tim: Nice post. Thank you! Up here, things are still awfully slow. We have so much new inventory that the banks and builders are offering all kinds of incentives to get rid of it. I think building will start again next year at some point. Take care.

Apr 21, 2009 01:37 AM #23

Great post, Tim.  In today's climate we all need to be the standard bearers of truth and good news!  "Within every adversity is an equal or greater benefit!" Napoleon Hill

Apr 21, 2009 03:44 AM #24
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Good news does not sell.  Someone told me there are no bad or good markets for Realtors, just different markets and we need to learn how to operate in them.

Apr 21, 2009 04:51 AM #25
Alice & Jim Hayes
Loveless Realty - Libby, MT

Good post. Thanks for sharing.

Apr 21, 2009 07:22 AM #27
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

It's really a shame about that whole media process of 'bad news sells'.  Of course, we also look to the tabloids to see what celebrities have fallen on their faces this week!  Oh yeah, that's positive!

Apr 21, 2009 10:54 AM #29
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

So where are you going to get your news. It's a fact and the folks that read the stuff spread it. It's like the folks that watch reality TV, Okra and Dr. Pill, it is said therefore it is true.

Apr 21, 2009 02:31 PM #30
Nancy Milton Holtzscher
RE/MAX Alliance in St.Louis' Illinois suburbs - Edwardsville, IL
Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, Illinois Broker, REALTOR

Great post, thanks. Having been in the news business many years ago, I am compelled to mention that the guy who writes the story doesn't write the headline. Some copy editor who probably just scanned the story penned the first headline he could think of and moved on. That's not to excuse, just to explain. There's no vast media conspiracy...they're just overworked and looking for the easy solution, which leads to bad headlines all the time. Now with so many newsroom staff positions being slashed by the beancounters, we can expect this to get worse instead of better.

Apr 21, 2009 10:15 PM #31
Tim White
Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt - Hart, MI - Hart, MI

Nancy - Thanks for the insight into the news media. It's always nice to get another perspective on things.

Apr 22, 2009 05:57 AM #32
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Hearing the news that new home starts had dropped 60% sounded like excellent news to me!  I figured that would kick the sales of existing homes into gear plus create motivation for new home buyers to get off the fence. And guess what?  It did!  So, what they 'meant for evil' turned to good.

Apr 27, 2009 04:55 AM #33
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