Syndicated from e-Partner
Owners are engaged in the delicate balancing act; walking on the razor’s edge, barefoot.
Slicing into Profit
The razor upon which owners must balance themselves is now slicing so deeply into revenues that profitability is now proving more and more illusive. Today’s Broker/Owners are confronted with an economy that is not rebounding fast enough to enable them to survive.
e-Partner has long held that Broker/Owners are the financial backbone of the real estate industry and that their survival should be one of the top priorities of our industry through 2010.
Our Bleeding Feet
The razor’s edge takes no prisoners and yields no concessions to owners who are struggling to meet their ever increasing general operating expenses. Trapped by the same economic factors faced by other businesses, owners are looking for ways to decrease fixed and personally guaranteed obligations.
e-Partner talks to owners from every brand and those who are independent and the story is generally the same. There are simply too few closing and too much bricks-and-mortar operating expenses. “There is just not enough transaction commission to meet the monthly demands we have,” one broker/owner told us.
Agility, created and sustained, is the first of the Ten Commandments of the New Real Estate Economy.
Although we are not quick on our feet, the razor’s edge is sensitizing us to perils of standing still for too long in one place. Our bloated organization body weight presses down on the sharp stainless steel edge and this slices away large chunks of capital required to sustain retail models.
New principle: the razor’s edge is now an owner’s continuing reality and he/she/all of us will learn to walk on this edge nimbly and quickly or, we will be cut to pieces.
flickr image by revdancatt
President Obama flew into Arizona to announce his blueprint for a $75,000,000,000 mortgage bailout known as the “Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.”
REALonomics has digested the preliminary outline of this program which claims to “…offer assistance to as many as to 9 million homeowners…” through a combination of loan modifications and propping up of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, support for state housing authorities and financial incentives for lenders to re-tool existing loans for a predefined set of homeowners whose mortgages fall into specific qualifying categories.
How does it Work and who are the Beneficiaries?
Will the President’s plan make a difference and if so, to whom and when? And, is the plan a sound economic model that will actually help homeowners facing foreclosure, as claimed by the administration? Is this another step in the direction of creating a dependency upon the federal government for and on the part of some Americans and lending institutions?
Let’s take a look at the plan and ask some hard questions.
The following memo was sent by Charles McMillan, NAR President to the NAR membership to communicate the specific details of NAR’s lobbying efforts related to the stimulus package. We share this with our readers without edit or comment as a part of our ongoing reporting of NAR’s actions and positions with respect to economy and the Obama administrations actions.
Dear Fellow REALTOR®,
Here’s our take on the Stimulus Bill and Treasury announcements made this week. We look at the Stimulus package AND the Treasury’s package holistically, in compliment with each other – mostly because that’s how the Obama team is looking at it. Your representatives, the NAR Board of Directors, asked us in November to do 4 things (with an unspoken but clearly understood mandate to PRESERVE what we already have). Here they are: 1) get loan limits raised for high cost areas, 2) make the $7,500 tax credit NOT a loan, 3) try to find ways to push interest rates down (which are higher than they should be due to systemic risk right now) by 200 basis points, and 4) help provide solutions to the foreclosure/short sale problem.
So here’s what we have achieved: (1) the loan limits will be raised to $727,000 in high cost areas, (2) the tax credit will be raised to $8,000 with NO payback [a true credit], (3) interest rates have come down 125-150 basis points, and (4) the bill has over $50 billion in it for foreclosure mitigation, with Geitners Treasury plan signaling that the second half of TARP and TALF will be used to mitigate foreclosures through a government guarantee, drive down interest rates by buying another $200-300 billion of mortgage paper from the GSES’s thereby freeing them up to do the same with new mortgages, and Fannie has just agreed to lift the cap of 4 investment properties eligible for loans and raise it to 10.
In addition, we preserved what we have – which some tend to forget is always on the table when these negotiations start up again – mortgage interest deductibility, real estate tax deductibility, and the $250,000/$500,000 cap gains exclusion (an overall package worth more than $100 billion and for some a very attractive funding source for their pet projects).
We did make a run at the $15,000 credit — and we would have loved to have gotten that or the Homebuilders $22,000 credit idea as well as their 5 year loss carry back deal, but they were considered too rich for this program. What it did do though is totally take the debate off of whether a tax credit should be reinstated at all (it expired last year) and whether it was a true credit or a repayable loan, and kept the conversation on how much it should be. It also kept the debate off of ‘what we are willing to give up to get a $15,000 tax credit’ and kept the debate again, on how much it should be. It’s pretty hard to complain when they give you what you ask for and you lose something you never had.
While we study the Treasury specifics on their major role in providing the rest of the housing solution — there is much more to come and we are working diligently with the Administration to help ‘unclog the pipeline’ and get capital flowing into housing again.
Barack Obama sat down with Today Show host, Matt Lauer for an interview about his economic policies. What do you think of the the content of this interview? Does it answer your questions about the economy, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and America’s current policies and practices?
Watch below for Part 1 of the MSNBC video and please comment.
Watch below for Part 2 of the MSNBC video and please comment.
On Friday, November 7, 2008, flanked by some of the most prominent names in the economic and business world, President elect Barack Obama held his first press conference. The central topics, the nation’s economy and of course, the “first mutt.” We will blog about the mutt later…for now, more serious stuff looms.
The Obama news conference was followed this morning, Saturday, November 8, 2008 by a radio address with similar content. These two initial events give us hints about the Obama economic model that will shape America and of course, the real estate industry for perhaps decades.
Attacking the Economy Means Controlling the Outcome
The Obama team is going to attack the economy in laser-like fashion. New rules are going to be written that will impact the private sector and retool the way in which those transactions dependent upon credit and lending work.
REALonomics has believed for some time (years, actually) that the real estate industry needed to redefine itself through sweeping consumer-centric changes driven mostly by standards based brokerage and maximum transparency.
What we never knew and could never predict are the bleak economic factors that now give rise to the transformation of our business models and have fueled a meltdown of home values in such universal proportions. Principle: Economic problems left unsolved by the private sector typically invite government mandated intrusions in order to harness the favor of the electorate.
Can the RE Industry Still Write its Own Rules
It is beginning to look a lot like the real estate industry will be shaped not by factors we control but by the policies and rules created by others. We, under the mantle of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), have, for the most part, missed most of our opportunity to define and shape the debate and participate in the rules that will create a “New Real Estate Industry.” NAR’s mistaken endorsement of the $700 billion bailout program has hurt us and created a dependency relationship with the federal government. In essence, we have been placed in the unenviable position of a reactive industry rather than a proactive force.
Do we still have the clout and the courage to write our own rules? Do we have the will power, discipline, leadership and the creative inspiration to recognize that we are on the cusp of a “New Real Estate Economy” wherein we can control the rules that dictate how the industry operates within a consumer-centric era? Have we become an industry, like so many before us, that will eventually become reliant upon the solutions created by a bloated federal bureaucracy that is more interested in centralizing power than in actually empowering people?
The Key Principle behind Rule-Writing
It’s not so much the rules per se, that govern business matter as it is the economic and social viewpoints of those who pen the rules. It’s always belief that precedes policy. What we believe about our industry is different that what Washington believes. There are principles behind rule-writing, always!
The key principle behind rule-writing is simply “BE THE RULE WRITER.”
Here are but some of what REALonomics believes will be the “new rules” evolving from the financial policies that will be put in place during what will be increasingly defined by the new Administration as a “crisis.” A history lesson…bureaucracies flourish best when set in motion during “crisis.”
NEW RULE 1: There will be a heavy emphasis on creating a bevy of legislation designed to control each aspect of the mortgage lending process. This sounds good until we understand the difference between our and Washington’s definition of transparency and disclosure. The new set of rules will further slow the markets while everyone waits to see and then create a whole new layer of regulations and regulators operating in the basement of every mortgage lender.
NEW RULE 2: Crack down will be the new operative language for not only Wall Street and so-called “overpaid CEO’s” but also those within the real estate industry who are not fully compliant with Rule #1. REALonomics thinks that real estate brokers will become targets for industry crack down and the eventual police force for compliance with new lending and transaction rules. In his website Barack Obama has already pledge to crack down on brokers and lenders.
NEW RULE 3: NAR will become more and more dependent upon government approval for the implementation of our industry policies and procedures that have sustained us for decades. NAR, already reeling from the DOJ debacle, will have a mandated hotline to Washington and will need to use it to check-in, seek approval and help implement the new rules that will be written. In essence, NAR could become an extension and purveyor of brokerage and home ownership policies written by the Obama administration, Pelosi’s House and Reid’s Senate.
Although the housing industry is suffering and the real estate industry is under siege, REALonomics would like to encourage the industry to step up to the plate and position itself under a new set of operating principles that can be sent to Washington as a demonstration of our commitment to operating and policing our own industry. We are still strong enough to influence the outcomes if we are proactive rather than reactive.
Let’s continue to remind ourselves that the key principle behind rule-writing is simply “BE THE RULE WRITER.”
Get the full transcript of the Barack Obama news conference and read between the lines.