There's Always More To The Story

Education & Training with The Lones Group, Inc.
The Lones Group, Inc.

There's Always More To The Story

Recently one of my clients forwarded an article to me about unemployment in their area.  The gist of the article was that jobless claims are up in the Kennewick area.

When the contents of this article hit my client's marketplace (Kennewick, a town in Eastern Washington), he told me the article had people so concerned that it felt as though the residents were running amok in the streets in fear of Godzilla. It was very much an atmosphere of doom, gloom, and fear.

As you can imagine, this made me absolutely crazy.

The whole picture of what's happening in Kennewick is very different. In fact, Fiscal Times recently named Kennewick as the #1 city people are moving to in a recent article.

So here's the question - what is the truth about the Kennewick area?

The article talking about increases in unemployment discounts - or completely ignores - the many other factors that make this area a phenomenal place to live. Great health care (three hospitals - and folks, that also translates into great employment opportunities).  Wonderful weather (300 days of sunshine each year!).  Superb wineries (which support a $350 million tourism industry). Fantastic opportunities for outdoor recreation.

And there are employment opportunities in the area. Don't let one media source fool you into thinking the area is sinking into a huge recession. Yes, employment is an important indicator of a community's health. But it's only one measure of the desirability of any given area. And of course, employment fluctuates over time. It's not a static measure of an area's performance. Before you panic based on one measure of economic health it's important to take a more global look - one that includes other measures of performance.

Actually, the article about Kennewick reminds me of an article written about the Seattle real estate market a couple of years ago, when it was reported that the area had record low rates of depreciation. Yes - home prices did depreciate in Seattle, just as they did in almost every community across the country. What the article didn't report was that, since 1976, homes in the Pacific Northwest have appreciated an average of 6.9% per year. So let's put that article in perspective. Many years of strong appreciation, followed by a year or two (or even three or four) of depreciation still equals a good thing. In fact, a very good thing.

In Kennewick, unemployment claims are up. But I think the reporter hurriedly glossed over the fact that unemployment numbers were lower in this area for several years due to the enormous amount of stimulus money eastern Washington communities received as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Prominently featured was a story about a woman, aged 62, who has been out of the work force since she last worked as a nanny - 11 years ago. The reality is that anyone who has been out of the work force for over a decade would likely struggle to find work in most communities in the United States today. Using this woman's story to make an emotional point about employment opportunities in Kennewick is an example of the kind of bias in reporting that tugs at readers' emotions rather than allowing them to assess the situation based on the facts.

In time, no one will remember this one biased article about Kennewick. It will fade away, and likely will be forgotten.

What won't fade away are the fundamental attributes of Kennewick. It is a thriving and growing community. I've long said that this part of Eastern Washington will continue to grow at a healthy pace. It simply has too much going for it... and with housing very reasonably priced, homeowners get real value for their housing dollar.

If I was a betting person, I'd be "all in" on the future of Kennewick.

Next time you read an article that predicts gloom and doom based on one or more factors, I encourage you do look at the numbers carefully before buying in to the hysteria.  Do a little research of your own to uncover mitigating factors.

More importantly, I hope that you will challenge the information. Touch base with the reporter and ask questions. Write to the editor and share your point of view, backed up with data you may have. It's important for every one of us to take action when we discover inaccuracies in reporting.

Do you have a favorite "scare story" that you read about your area?  I'd love to hear it!

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things "real estate". With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.

The Lones Group, Inc.

Comments (21)

Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Denise: In Crescent City CA it's all about the 8.8 tsunami in Alaska that, unarguably, hit the city very hard in 1964. Since then breakwaters and sea walls have been built so that during subsequen tsunamis the damage has been contained only in the harbor itself and even that is now being worked on in an aggressive manner with millions of dollars being spent to do so. My point? The town keeps playing up tsunamis, they even wanted to change the name of Front Street to Tsunami Lane or Street. As a Realtor in the area, you can't believe how many times I've had to answer the question when we talk about affordable oceanfront properties, "yes, but what about the tsunamis?" Give me a break. The town wants more growth and attract tourists, but with the reminder of devastation? Thanks for letting me rant.

Jul 30, 2012 03:21 AM
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Denise: Sorry you got me so worked up about that subject. Here's the plus side of Crescent City CA. Beautiful Redwood Forest, hundreds of square miles of prestine national forests, the Smith river on which you can kayak, fish, swim, camp, hike and other recreational activities. Along the coast, absolutely stunning miles of beaches with few people. Walk your dog, ride horses or just stroll. Can't be beat. The town itself? It's the seat of Del Norte County  and has all the services of a big town, but no lines! The harbor is a working harbor where you can buy fresh fish and crab in season. A beautiful area. OK, I'm done.

Jul 30, 2012 03:28 AM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

What gets me here is the weather reports, people know that we get a Hurricane every ten years here but ever year we get all these predictions of how many will hit the coast. 10 years ago it how many were expected to form 15 then then nothing so then it became how many would be named 15, again nothing, then it was how many would form off South America and today they started announcing how many were forming off Africa. All we care about is how many form in the northern gulf and it has been 8 years.

Jul 30, 2012 08:48 AM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

I still say Wal Mart owns the weather channel every time Wal Mart needs a boost in business they call them and tell them a hurricane is comming, the last was Debby which never even came close to Pensacola.

Jul 30, 2012 08:49 AM
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Lots of great comments here - I think this post really struck a chord!  

Jul 31, 2012 01:36 AM
Kerry L Klun, Broker/Owner
Palm Realty - Melbourne, FL


I think that unfortunately, you see a lot of these types of articles simple because the writers are looking for ratings instead of putting out the whole story as you mentioned.  Good blog.


Jul 31, 2012 03:24 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Great way to re-fute the "bad news" that some just insist on putting out there!

Jul 31, 2012 03:49 AM
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Denise -- the other side of the unemployment equation, that the reporter forgot to mention, was that increase in the number of people moving into the area.  If 5,000 more people move in, and business is starting to pick up, then some of the folks - like the lady out of work for 11 years -- are likely to start looking for work again, and push up the unemployment number (though they were unemployed before, they weren't counted, because they weren't looking for work.)

Jul 31, 2012 03:58 AM
Kathy Stoltman
Balboa Real Estate - Ventura, CA
Ventura County Real Estate Consultant 805-746-1793

Just illustrates how the press can distort the reality. Perhaps it just would take too long to explain the entire reality!

Jul 31, 2012 04:41 AM
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Steven - you are right on the money here.  When you only look at one number and you are not looking at all the factors that create a thriving area you are doing everyone a disservice. This article created fear and concern for people and it just didn’t have enough information for a person to make an informed opinion.  The bottom line,  this area is hopping, a great place to live and work, and there are jobs!!!!  Great reply Steven.  Denise

Jul 31, 2012 04:48 AM
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Paula - This seems to be a common theme in the industry.

Kerry - I could NOT agree more with you!!!!!! Denise



Jul 31, 2012 04:50 AM
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA
Great post, we need to be very cautious about what we trust in any type of media
Jul 31, 2012 12:25 PM
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

If it bleeds it leads.

It is unfortunate that negative news affects people 1000 times more than any positive news.

Jul 31, 2012 05:30 PM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Gloom and doom sells newspapers! Here it is the end of the space shuttle program. But there is life after the shuttle has left us.

Jul 31, 2012 10:54 PM
Tamara Elliott-Deering
Central Metro Realty - Austin, TX


I lived in the Seattle life most of my life until I relocated to Austin 6 years ago.  Washington has always suffered from boom and bust cycles so it takes awhile for the locals not to panic over unemployment news.  The tri-cities in particular have been dependant on the whims of government for their survival so any unemployment news in an election cycle will have a heightened effect.

Jul 31, 2012 11:05 PM
Ben Gerritsen
Mortgage Miracles Happen, NMLS ID: 1289680 - Ogden, UT
Mortgage Loan Originator

Although unemployment is important to some people, the perception that people have is more important in choosing a place to move to and plant their roots. Great research and insights.

Aug 01, 2012 01:42 AM
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Joy - thanks for the comment.  We do indeed need to be cautious.

Gary - your perspective is spot-on!

Tamara - so nice to hear from someone who used to live in the area!  Washington does indeed have lots of boom/bust cycles, as do many communities.  And with elections coming up at all levels of government many of the stories we are reading definitely have a slant or bias to them.

Benjamin - I appreciate your comments, and I'm glad you enjoyed the article.  

Aug 01, 2012 04:47 AM
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Hi Denise, I would have to go back a long way to the days when Boeing was seemingly the only game in Everett. When Boeing burped the Everett economy would go into a severe panic.



Aug 03, 2012 02:46 AM
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Adrian, that's a perfect example ... the whole "Will the last person in town please turn off the lights" mentality.  And yet, over time, real estate in the Puget Sound has been an excellent investment.  Thanks for chiming in Adrian!

Aug 03, 2012 03:45 AM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

I learned early in my career not to believe anything they say about real estate in the Washington Post or on TV.  They do not have their pulse on the real estate market, they report things about 8 months behind what's really happening in the market and they just LOVE anything negative!

Aug 04, 2012 08:52 PM