Sunday, January 25, 2009

A MOCO response

Our pal with the new blog at the Miner's website has offered up something that I thought I'd bring back to MOCO. Unfortunately for Loyd, he is many years late in publishing a common theme that has appeared on thousands of real estate 'bubble' blogs. While the tired rhetoric has the very real feel of 'been there - read that' to it, since it has a bit of a local slant... I figure what the heck.

Before moving on, I do find Loyd's writing style pleasing. He chooses descriptive words and terms very creatively to move his thoughts along. I love his sense of imagery, in fact I wish I had a bit more of that in my writing.

The following will contain some minor disagreements and perhaps some mere reminders, and I'm not offering a harsh rebuke or admonishment... just a little fun writing to start the week.

Find the entire post linked here.

[T]he recent article in the Miner titled "Realtors see light at the end of the tunnel" by James Chilton, is an absolute gem.

When the real estate boom hit here in 2005-06 the Realtor euphoria just could not be contained. They flocked here to the tune of 600-650 souls by some counts just like the California Gold Rush.

What Loyd won't tell you is that the number of Realtor Members of the local Association really has no defined bearing on how many properties change hands. He has even said himself that he has never used the services of a Realtor, yet he seems to indicate that he has either purchased or sold property on occasion over time in his life.

Loyd guesses that Association Membership swelled to 650 at one point, but he has no idea how many other folks in the area that were issued a license to act as an agent to a party on the sale of real property (attorney's also have the ability to represent a party in a property transfer). Not every person with a government issued real estate license is a Realtor.

While I do not have any data to back the following up, I have heard many times that in Mohave County only about 40% of all real property transfers are made by a party (buyer or seller) that has hired representation services of a Realtor. If true, this means that 6 out of 10 transactions happen without us 'pesky' Realtors involved at all.

I cannot speak for any other Realtor or licensee, but I have never been the sole reason that a person of free will has ever decided to buy or sell property. Each and every time I have answered the phone, an email, or have been visited in person by a potential client at my office, after greetings and pleasantries have taken place they always start out with the same following four words... "I would like to"... and end with either "purchase or sell property". That is as true today in this slow market as it was in the booming market.

The point really is, with or without the 650 Realtor Members (at one time) property would have changed hands at break neck speed.

Skyrocketing real estate prices carried the illusion of get rich overnight and every lot and shack for sale in Kingman got labeled. "Just no way to lose" seemed to be the rallying cry to every "house flipper", "speculator" and "rent to riches" tycoon and slum lord within driving distance.

And a few even called me to help them with their transaction. Others certainly called on other Realtors and non member licensees. Still many others turned properties without the need for services.

I was working in my front yard a lot during that time frame and if I had just $10 for every quick buck artist with Nevada plates that pulled up and offered to buy my house, I could just about pay the run up in property taxes I've been hit with.

Yet we are left guessing as to how much his taxes actually went up. Here his words say a lot, but actually don't tell us anything. For all we know his taxes only went up $31 dollars which would 'just about' pay his increased taxes if three vehicles with Nevada plates pulled up and offered to buy his property.

A Realtor or Realtor associate (licensed to sell) is a proverbial Cheshire cat – always smiling, upbeat, and positive – just bubbling with enthusiasm.

Don't forget that Realtors are business owners, and I can't think of a business owner that checks his or her enthusiasm when they open up the office or shop for the day. Loyd has told me that he was a one time business owner himself. Now I'm left wondering if he was downtrodden, sullen, and negative around his customers and if that improved business or not. No way, I'll bet that the sound of a cash register still brings somewhat of a smile to his face in some Pavlovian manner.

By nature, they are a resourceful bunch. They may haunt the Chamber of Commerce for new prospects scoping out Kingman to possibly relocate; or they might cruise the hallowed halls of the Superior Court looking for those divorce settlements that are so just right for down payments. And they are always trolling the Internet looking for the slightest nibble.

When they find one they will spirit them away in their $50,000 SUV and probably assure them they know the address of their dream home and the investment of a lifetime.

Wait, wait, wait. I drive an SUV... are you saying it is worth 50 grand?? It is for sale if so.

Now what else did he just say, that business owners use marketing in the hopes of attracting more business?? Who'd a thunk that?? As for the creative examples he offered, I only market on the Internet.

At the top of the bubble or at the bottom of the crash, the story is always the same.

"There's Never Been A Better Time To Buy!"

This applies to any business owner in some respect. Lawyers will say there's never been a better time for a lawsuit, Wal-Mart will tell us that prices are slashed so don't miss out on the sale of the century, even the kid at the Kool-aid stand will make some kind of encouragement to passers by that may not even look thirsty. It is called free enterprise and I don't begrudge anyone that gives it a shot. Sure beats waiting in a bread line by many accounts.

Now for the record, as a Member of the National Association of Realtors... I absolutely hate the marketing pitch that includes the 'never been a better time' crap. I detest it so very much. I do not use it in my marketing, in fact I go to great lengths to offer an easy way for people to determine if now is a good time to buy for them by way of my monthly sales reports that, in my opinion, offers very revealing data about the current market.

And even though the data still looks pretty bad on average at this time -- the phone rings, the emails come in, and kind folks walk through the door to my office and at some point utter four words to the beginning of a sentence... "I would like to"... either buy or sell real property.

If it's going up – It will never be any cheaper

If it's going down – The turn-around is just around the corner

If it's hit bottom – There's nowhere to go but up

Actually if it has hit bottom, then wouldn't it be fair to say there's nowhere to go but up??

When the mad rush is on, no matter what the rush is for (especially pertaining to issues involving the chance at financial improvement), it is started when actual people observe other actual people that have improved their financial lot... not some lame brained industry marketing ploy.

Seriously, do you believe a marketing effort or a neighbor that says they cleared 50 grand (the value of my SUV, as Loyd has indicated, that is now for sale) on the sale of their property?? Very few neighbors are saying that today at this moment, and sales are down quite a bit even with the continued marketing ploy. I see a relation.

For the short time I have been in real estate, I have yet to hear a client or potential client come to me convinced to buy or sell because of NAR's marketing efforts. However, most all of the real estate investor clients have shared an anecdote about a neighbor, friend, or even family member that found 'riches' when buying or selling property (that is if finding 'riches' is the goal, often times the transfer of property has nothing to do with attaining 'riches'). The ones that haven't credited neighbors, friends, or family for the epiphany tell me they've done it before themselves.

Whatever is going on, the tendency is to paint it with a rainbow and try to convince that it is the best decision and investment ever made. Homeless millions will disrespectfully disagree.

Those millions to be made homeless can thank government that meddled and then failed to regulate, opportunists that manipulated mortgage instruments, greedy developers that capitalized on easy credit and a real estate industry with a "Gold Rush" mentality.

Empty rhetoric.

Loyd, I know you watch TV and maybe even listen to the radio at times. When I happen to enjoy these media outlets I am inundated with commercials to invest in gold (or Obama dinner plates). So what do you think Loyd?? Is now a good time to invest?? The ads certainly make it seem like it is a can't lose opportunity.

If I get burned on a gold investment, will you please write a blog post damning the people that 'made' me invest by painting rainbows and convincingly leading me to believe that it would be the best investment ever made?? After all, judging by what you wrote above, there will have to be plenty of people to blame for my decision.

And, here we sit – assured that very soon – just as soon as those pesky foreclosed homes are all bought up – we can start all over again.

Frankly, I'm just thrilled at the prospect – how about You?

You mean that no doc, no down loans will be back again??

The only way anything starts all over again will be due to greater demand for property in this area. I don't know what would be the incentive used to bring back at least some level of demand for certain. However I do believe that it will likely have to do with progress and the community working with interests that can help improve the area through job creation and other forms of development that spur on even more opportunity. In other words, risk takers are needed.

Yet the way that risk takers are treated here locally, especially over the last couple of years, it is doubtful that Loyd has anything to worry about.

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