URGENT INDUSTRY MESSAGE
REALonomics continues to take a position that the natural market cycles should dictate the recovery and that government sponsored bail out attempts will create additional long term issues and actually stall a real recovery.
Although many in the industry favor federal intervention we are hard pressed to find anyone setting forth specific rationale for doing so. We hear a lot of emotion but not much sound economic reasoning based upon our industry’s historical commitment to traditional capitalism as the driving force behind real estate home ownership.
Wachovia was snatched up by CitiGroup just days ago. According to the FDIC’s website, there have been 40 bank failures since 2000 and NONE of them…yes, that’s right…none of them was bailed out by taxpayers. At iVoteAmerica.com there are predictions of more bank mergers over the next several business days.
Failing banks will continue to be absorbed just as ALL of them have been absorbed to date. After all, the best investment good banks can make today is to purchase assets of failing banks for pennies on the dollar and delivering huge internal rates of return to themselves. Therefore, patience is called for and we ought not to allow ourselves to be influenced by knee-jerk politicians from either party. Forget the election for a moment! Forget your favorite party preference for a moment!
Yesterday, September 29, 2008, the stock market lost more than $1 trillion in value. REALonomics predicts that investors will surface, shifting their investment strategies to more conservative, traditional positions.
NAR is Wrong on Rescue Package
Furthermore, REALonomics believes that the endorsement of the bailout by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a dead wrong endorsement and a clear indicator of NAR’s desperation with the housing market and its departure from the traditional approach to real property investment where true equity was a necessity to home ownership.
Our core value has always been home ownership as the primary investment for individuals and families. Behind this core value we have heretofore (prior to subprime lending) advised our clients to utilize conservative strategies when purchasing a home, including establishing and NEVER compromising their equity position. Have we decided as an industry that this is bad advice and adopted a dangerous borrow-to-the-hilt value system?
Some of you will remember the days when we encouraged homeowners to build “true” lasting equity that they could rely on when it came time to retire. The home was a person’s primary savings and investment account. I have a question for the RE industry; “Have we decided to depart from this core value position?”
Danger, Danger and More Danger to Owners
What about real estate company owners, our favorite topic? If the bailout occurs with a massive amount of taxpayer dollars used to rescue the so called “toxic mortgages” most real estate company owners will be effectively out of business within a short time as home values will likely plummet to pre 2001 levels. The toxic loans will be discounted to unprecedented levels, impacting literally every property value in metro markets.
If a rescue occurs, all property values in the United States will immediately decline. In fact, the financial institutions are already cutting HELOCs and credit card amounts in a desperate attempt to ratchet the market downward.
If the rescue occurs as currently outline by the Senate and voted down by the House, the ability for the average American buyer to access available real estate investment capital will diminish the market by perhaps another 50%. Although REALonomics is not attempting to inject hysteria into an already highly charged situation, we believe it is important that Realtors® have a clear understanding of the potential long term risks of a bailout by taxpayers.
Just Plain Old Bad Business and Bad Policy
The rescue of bad loans is simply bad real estate business and bad real estate business is bad for the real estate industry and bad for real estate company owners.
Let the market fix itself. The market will repair itself and the results will be less painful than allowing the bailout to prevail. The fact is…actually, the truth is, we are going to be harmed. The only question is how much pain are we going to allow to be inflicted upon the industry?
If we do not allow the market to heal itself and we adopt a taxpayer bailout mentality we will be adopting a fundamental shift in the historical values espoused by the real estate industry and to a large degree we will have socialized real estate, diminishing the value of all Realtors® and the industry itself. Such a shift in policy will create a huge potential for government oversight of the real estate industry and create transaction liabilities for broker/owners, franchisors and let’s not forget appraisers and mortgage lenders.
We encourage you to think deeply upon these things.
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Once in a while REALonomics will post a comment to great articles found in Inman News. Such was the case this morning, Tuesday, September 23, 2008. The comment created some interesting communication…all good, by the way. But the comment to this post seemed to touch a pent-up industry nerve regarding where our industry is headed and what our industry focus should be as move into the Third Economic Wave in the industry’s development.
There seem to be two camps developing within the real estate industry. The first camp believes the media and negative language is the culprit that is creating a lot of the market decline and lack of buyer confidence. The other camp is the group saying, “We need to look within the industry and raise our standards making them more consumer-centric and us less susceptible to repeating the errors of the past.” REALonomics falls into the later group.
As a result of feedback here is the comment from the Inman article posted here for our readership:
The notion that positive thinking and misplaced hype can move us away from a faulty and failing economic model is more dangerous than the crisis itself because it demonstrates the lack of depth in our thinking. This crisis cannot be repaired by “making people believe the worst is over…” This is the logical result and outcome of poor economic modeling in the mortgage industry that loaned billions to buyers who didn’t qualify and the real estate industry’s fickle pretense that it exercises ultimate fiduciary in its dealings with clients.
Rather than whining, what we should be doing as an industry is recreating ourselves in terms of standards-based brokerage practices, revamping our national and state networks into consumer-centric, transparent operations and utilizing the power of NAR to send a positive signal to consumers that we “get it” and that they are going to see a new side to the professional real estate industry they deserve and one that will refuse to close a transaction where the buyer does not qualify.
A standards-based model should include heavy fines for brokerage firms that (1) hire under qualified agents who lack the academic training and counseling skills we need for consumer protection; (2) refuse to fulfill maximum (not minimum) financial training in economics and real estate investments and fiduciary training courses and finally, (3) much higher costs to enter the industry and stay in it.
A standards-based industry would include national performance reviews and ratings of brokerage firms with financial and recognition incentives for creating and maintain standards of excellence that protect consumers and their investments in real estate.
In addition, we need to look at the role of NAR and how NAR services the industry and consider refocusing its mission and resources on a newly profiled industry that really understands and accepts responsibility for its actions when counseling consumers to invest in real estate.
One thing we believe with certainty, we are never returning to what we once knew. Having said that, what is it we would like to become as an industry after the dust settles?
While the Feds scramble to resolve issues, we should be scrambling as an industry to reinvent ourselves. Such a reinvention involves painful analysis and truth-telling about where we have been and how we have operated. Only then can we begin the process of rebuilding a tattered industry that is increasingly viewed with skepticism by most consumers.
———- END OF COMMENT ———-
We now own what we cannot control. We are witnessing the Federalizaiton of the Financial Systems of America. Backed by a fickle Congress and flanked by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, contrary to their former political beliefs that government should stay out of the private sectors of the economy, took measures today to endorse the Federalization of our money systems.
Q1 - What does this mean to the real estate industry?
Clearly we are entering spooky waters wherein we dared never enter before. REALonomics believes the move by the government will paralyze the industry making home buying and selling incredibly difficult, if not impossible, in some already paralyzed markets. Home and commercial property values will assuredly decline even more, reducing the networth of the industry and its investor and home owner base.
Q2 - What does this mean to the mortgage industry?
Expect huge consolidations greater than the Bank of America’s absorbtion of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. With this consolidation of the financial titans, mega titans will be created and essentially be required to submit to a new set of tightly regulated lending rules. It will be harder and harder to borrow and lend. This will create a over-regulation of the market and further drag on mortgage recovery.
Q3 - What does this mean to Americans?
Each of the more than 300 million people in America, including those born yesterday, will end up with at least a $100,000 debt hanging over their heads. This is the representative figure that is the accumulation of the current escalation of the national deficit and the new estimated $2 trillion dollar bailout of the financial markets.
The government bailout of the private sector of the market means that each of us was just handed a tax bill or, we might call it a “cash call” because we are collectively the new owners of the private problems of borrows and lenders.
Ron Paul (R, TX) was correct when he told Ben Bernanke, in essence, “you are going to bankrupt the American people with your money policies.”
The average American family is essentially, on paper, wiped out by this move and the impact on the real estate and mortgage industries was just extended to perhap a decade or even more.
Q4 - What does this mean in terms of the election?
This is the easy question and the answer is more finger pointing, more investigations, excessive government snooping (there needs to be some), lots of drama on the political stump and a great deal of harm to John McCain, who is already having difficulty coming out from the shadow of Bush’s foreign and domestic policies.
But it also means trouble for Barack Obama. He can forget about his national health care program for all Americans, he can forget about taxing anyone, much less those earning incomes above $250k and he can kiss his “no-new-energy-if-it-means-drilling-coal fired plants-and-nuclear-power” policy good by.
In essence the damage done to both candidacies is substantial and the next 45 days are going to be like the wild-wild-west as we run up to election time. To vote in the Presidential poll, visit www.iVoteAmerica.com.
The most remarkable thing about today’s move to “take-over” is that it represents a profoundly fundamental shift in our capital market value system and establishes a whole new mechanism for creating a way to further tax the American people. Make no mistake about it, you just got taxed and to pay the tax bill you were forced to financed the payments over time. There was paperwork, no disclosure and no recource for any of us. All of this is taking place right before our eyes without much of a whimper or a voice of protest.
In the post “Unlocking Franchise Economics,” Part 1, we opened the door to asking relevant questions that will help owners analyze the economics of real estate franchising.
In this series of posts REALonomics has one primary objective it would like to accomplish on behalf of owners and that is as follows:
…to help owners unlock the door to franchise economics so that gain an understanding of the substantive value propositions that exist and how a franchise name and associated promises can be quantifed in real dollars that are converted to a profit equation that is greater than it would be if the brokerage firm operated without the franchise.
Franchising is an Add-On Toolkit, with Limitations
At its most fundamental economic level a real estate franchise is a brokerage toolkit. Yes, there are all sorts of issues such as marketing, relocation, referrals, training, conventions, etc. But for now, we are setting those aside. A real estate franchise is an economic toolkit, at least it should be. Franchisors spend a great deal of time butter-balling brands, numbers of offices, growth, name recognition, relocation, referrals, etc., and that is how most franchise sales people will present their proposition to an owner. It’s the owner’s responsibility to translate the presentation into real economic reality and performance and to insist that the franchisor do the same.
As a toolkit, there are some things a franchise can do, there are many things it cannot do and there are more things it does not want to do for a brokerage firm because to do them will harm the franchisor’s bottom line. Let me be clear on this last point. At some point in the franchise relationship, an owner may find the franchisor a competitor for market territory, referrals, relocation and even local business.