Sunday, October 14, 2007

Media headlines

I love the Sunday newspaper. Even so, as a Realtor, I always hold my breathe until I check out the headline in the Real Estate section, because if it's at all controversial, it's likely to be the topic of conversation among clients and colleagues for the coming week.

That's one purpose for this blog . . . to be able to comment on real estate related news stories as they occur.

I understand that journalists have to to draw readers in with sensational headlines in order to sell newspapers. But, for better or worse, public perception of the real estate market has tremendous power to actually change that market, and the real estate market is a major driving force in the financial health of our nation. That puts a significant responsibility on the shoulders of those who write those headlines.

For example, the October 6th editions of the Seattle Times and Post Intelligencer, stated that housing prices in Seattle dipped from last year. To justify the headline, they dug up some atypical and scewed statistics that showed a $50 difference -- yes, fifty dollars, not fifty thousand dollars -- between home prices in Sept. of 2006 versus Sept. of 2007. Well into the bowels of the article was information about how condominium sales may have artificially lowered that median price.

As a result of that story, many buyers were convinced that they should hold off on buying until prices go down more. Unfortunately, prices aren't really going down, and buyers who delay will actually experience a decrease in their purchasing power.

Consumer confidence is easily disrupted and "the power of the press" is very real. News reporters need to wield that power with care.

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