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Every problem has to have a public face, and to many people, David Lereah is the public face of the housing slump. There is an entire blog devoted to trashing the genial Lereah, who is chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. People say Lereah was too upbeat about house prices in the boom (he wrote a badly timed 2005 book called “Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?”). Now, they say, he has overreached to put a positive spin on the downside.
I’m not usually one for piling on, but I couldn’t resist passing along this wisecrack about Lereah from Peter Schiff, the bearish president of brokerage firm Euro Pacific Capital (www.europac.net). It was emailed to me by his brother and publicist:
“If the National Association of Realtors chief economist David Lereah had covered the arrival of the Hindenburg in New Jersey in 1937 (instead of Herb “Oh the Humanity” Morrison) it too may have been described as a ‘soft landing.’”
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.