Wall Street Journal vs. Time Magazine … both wrong

The boys and girls on Wall Street answer back

to

Of course, Time was refuting it’s earlier entry

Note: This one seemed to support the boys and girls on Wall Street

Spin doctors are found everywhere.  Give someone (myself included) and they can pontificate ad nausea on any subject.  Give enough advertising money to a publication and benefactor and editor become one and the same.  This is nothing new.  Just as sure as the Bride’s family is paying the freight, the wedding will be planned by them.  The practice in publications occurs at the smallest level all the way to the top.  In your local paper, that interesting article by a local real estate agent is not news.  The article is bought and paid for by that same real estate agent.

The recent bout of dueling opinion makers in the housing industry is playing out for a national audience. We can overlook that in the past Time was a big proponent of home ownership.  There most recent entry authored by Barbara Kiviat offers her thesis on the down side of home ownership.  Babs offers that home ownership has been the ruin of the inner cities and lays the blame for the entire mess at the feet of FDR.  She points out that homeowners today have $6 trillion less in housing wealth than they did three years ago.  She doesn’t say where it went or explain. She just says it is gone.

Hmmmm, interesting.  Just gone? Here is the truth. It is not gone. It was either the result of  “paper gains” that were never realized or it was transfered from housing wealth to personal goods via home equity loans or cash out re-fi’s.  Home values have gone down.  Home values have gone up and down over the years. The value of everything has gone up and down. The overall gist of Bab’s piece seems to point to a government conspiracy to fool unwitting American’s into believing that buying a home was a good idea.  Or maybe Bab’s is a closet socialist that believes that no one other than the “state” should own homes.

The Wall Street Journal has come back with a repartee authored by Brett Arends.  Brett shares luke warm feel good arguments in favor of home ownership. One of his eureka moments is item number 4 in his top reason list…”It will be yours”.  I can only think that he had what he considered to be 9 good reasons and his editor told him that David Letterman made the big time with a top ten list and nine just wouldn’t do. Faced with this dilema, Brett came up with “It will be yours.”

One thing is readily apparent in both articles. Neither author has a clue about real estate or what is happening in the market today.  The Time magazine piece is mis-labeled and appropriately offered on September 11.  It seems that the editor’s at Time forgot the date and felt that a poorly written and horribly researched piece of drek deserved a cover rather than reflecting on what most American’s were thinking about that day.

Memo to Time editors…9/11 was a big deal and most American’s would prefer that it be recognized.  Ask any survivors from Pearl Harbor if they think a cover on December 7th should feature a story about the authenticity of Santa Claus.

Regarding the Wall Street Journal piece.  When most American’s consider real estate and the market, they do not factor in investors and corporate buyers.  They sort of feel that the real estate market for new homes is primarily made up of folks, just like them, that are looking for a new home.  They consider it a buyer’s market when there are less buyers than homes available.  They consider it a sellers market when there are less homes available than buyers.

Using less than empirical data to claim this is a buyers market is asinine and it goes on all the time.  It is a claim that indicates that the person or entity making the statement is far removed from the reality of the market today.  I will agree there are a lot of properties for sale.  If you look beyond the for sale status and did a little deeper, you will find the numbers are swelled by “short sales” and “REO sales” and “bank owned sales” and every kind of third party influenced sale imaginable.  (For a moment, let’s just overlook the fact that foreclosures are up in the air again.)

People that are looking to move, usually need to have access to their new home within 60 days of a ratified contract. They can not wait the 3,6,9 or 12 months necessary to complete a short sale (the contract may be ratified but the contingency period is deadly).  Most buyers require a clear title at closing. The problems that exist with over 75% of the homes “on the market” precludes them from being available with in that 60 day window.

The amount of “truly” available homes in every market in the country is minuscule compared to the number of people seeking to purchase a new home.

End of story.

It is not a buyer’s market.  The last buyer’s market was a paper tiger fueled by haphazard loan underwriting and minimal credit standards.  The current market’s buyers are qualified and seeking a home within a reasonable price range.  The number of available homes is disheartening.

Now, if you happen to be a buyer that is seeking to work with an agent that understands the true dynamics of this market, I would love to discuss your goals.  If you are a seller that wants an agent that understands you don’t have to give away your home today, I would welcome the chance to speak with you.

Please call 301-509-5111 and let me know what it is that you need.

 

Lourdes Tudela-MacArthur and John MacArthur

My name is John MacArthur and I work with Lourdes Tudela-MacArthur.  We offer pragmatic advice concerning the buying and selling of homes in Maryland and Washington, DC.  You can learn more about us at Hot Metro Homes

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