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'Don't Watch, Read, or Listen to the News If You Can't Handle the News'

Posted by: Peter Coy on June 4, 2007

It strikes me that real estate agents, being in the information business, should not shut themselves off from the flow of information. They should try to vacuum up every scrap of potentially useful information about selling houses, from news to statistics to rumor.

But I guess I don’t really understand real estate, because some actual experts are advising certain real estate agents to do the opposite. Switch off the tube; turn down the radio; fold the newspaper; and don’t go anywhere near those awful blogs. The reason? The news media are carrying discouraging stories about the housing slump, and impressionable agents who pay attention to them will lose their sales gumption.

Here’s an excerpt from the promo for a new podcast by the co-founders of, Rory Wilfong, Steve Young, and Dave Conklin:

There are a lot of stories in both trade and consumer publications that seem geared toward sparking debate and nothing else. They will create fear and doubt if you let them. As Rory says, “Don’t watch, read or listen to the news if you can’t handle the news.”

(I guess the same goes if you’re a Yankees fan this season.)

Here are the photogenic podcasters.

Reader Comments

Chris Ketchel

June 5, 2007 8:12 AM

I amazed by the predominance of this view, but that's ok. I provide an analysis of growth and development trends for those that are busy doing other things. It is a full time job keeping track of ALL the various influences upon our valued environments.


June 5, 2007 2:42 PM

In general (this is a GENERALIZATION) most realtors aren't educated very well. The business has been so good for so long that many incompetent people are in the business because the business was so easy. They have yet to actually had to face reality that markets go up AND down. A SMART real estate agent can make a living in any market, they don't rail against the news they use it to their advantage. Unfortunately there are very few good realtors. A good realtor is worth their weight in gold, the rest of them can be replaced by a limited service realtor model. This is because these people are essentially limited service, they just don't know they are limited service. They've never bothered really learning the business. Most realtors are just lead generation machines, they don't know real estate well (they just know it just enough more than their ignorant clients).


June 5, 2007 8:17 PM

Very good point but you are making the mistake news media is making, generalizing.

Yes, I see how the news media "manipulates" stories and spreads FUD. It's also painfully obvious how they are trying to be more relevant than they actually are and keep that readership along with the advertising revenues. Obviously, you have to be selective in what you read. There are blogs, websites and newspapers I don't read because they put out more FUD and fluff than real news.

I've made all of this work to my advantage. When people ask me what I see in the market, my view of different from the news media. So I intrigue them, and in turn they see me as the real professional with his nose in it, not simply with a finger on the pulse.

I think people could "handle" the news if we still had real journalism, you know the type, really impartial. Can't blame the journalists though. The owners of those media hubs have too strong of a say on what news will be.


June 6, 2007 1:04 AM

Well Nick, I would love to start naming all the bad Realtors in California, but there are almost 500,000 of them and I dont have the time. Therefore I have to make generalizations.

For the layperson it is better for them to assume the real estate professional they meet is incompetent. They will be more right than wrong and if they are wrong they are pleasantly surprised. But they should do their own research and trust nothing they are told without checking it out first. Most people assume the exact opposite and it is one of the many reasons we are in the situation we are in.

It is just amazing to me how cavalier people are in letting highly unqualified people "guide" them through a very expensive transaction. It is unique to real estate the scale of cash to incompetency. This is an industry begging for a makeover.

Rory Wilfong

June 6, 2007 9:47 AM

Peter great column, I really appreciate your insight and comments on our Podcasts and Blog at The biggest point being made to Real Estate professionals and anyone in general is to create your own news, do not let news manipulate you or your destiny. Do not let statistics change your views, create your own stats. News is for entertainment value and if you can handle it consume yourself with it and succeed as normal.

Rory Wilfong

June 7, 2007 9:07 PM

Bottom Line...Know your market better than anyone else and you will succeed.

Chris Heath

June 16, 2007 4:07 AM

I agree fully the market have so many variables these days, so anybody in the business needs to keep up with all information. It may give you the insight that makes your first million!

Rory Wilfong

January 26, 2008 12:32 PM

If you allow the media to control your destiny then your future is pre-determined by the entertainment value of the media.

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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.

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