While helping my colleague Peter Coy report for the week’s cover story on Buyer(and Seller) Beware: How to Navigate An Anxious Housing Market, I was stuck by the number of realtors I spoke to who were convinced that the cooling housing market was partly due to the “overblown, media hype.” One realtor from Northern New Jersey lamented: “If the press wouldn’t make such a big deal about the changes in the market, maybe the consumers wouldn’t be so reactive and the market wouldn’t be turning.”
As a member of the media, I admit we’re always hungry for an eye-catching story, especially in this voracious content-eating new media world. But, hey--it’s not like we make the statistics up. We just report them.
When new home sales drop, inventory of unsold homes goes up and median home prices fall, it isn’t hard to connect the dots and report that the housing market is headed for “a decline of several years that gradually brings back values to the long-term trend,” as Michael Mandel points out in the cover story commentary.
Some of these realtors I spoke to were looking to blame the inevitable cyclical nature of real estate on something. Many of them are coming off their best year ever in the residential real estate business, but they seem to have forgotten that like stocks, real estate goes up and down. When business gets tough, that’s when it is time to start thinking out of the box and get creative.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.