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David Lereah's Bad Calls Hit Home

Posted by: Chris Palmeri on January 12, 2009

This blog always took a very skeptical view of the prognostications of David Lereah, formerly the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. His relentlessly upbeat take on the market is best captured by the title of his 2005 book: “Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?” Along the way he earned a reputation as the Baghdad Bob of the real estate industry.

Just a couple of weeks ago my fellow Hot Property blogger Prashant Gopal wrote an item about how Lereah is now admiting his mistakes. He left the association in 2007. He now says he was pressured by the members to be upbeat about the housing market.

Today the Wall Street Journal has a piece today about the mess he’s found himself in personally these days. You may need a subscription to read it. Lereah now works from home, his former colleagues won’t even return his calls. To keep some assemblance of a routine he still drives to McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts for breakfast each morning. He communicates with his wife, who also works from home, by email during the day.

He also ate his own cooking, buying six condos as investment properties during the boom. They’re located in formerly hot markets in Washington, DC and Florida. The article doesn’t go into detail but you can bet Lereah is under water on those.

Reader Comments

Fazal Majid

January 12, 2009 8:56 PM

The fact he put his money where his mouth was does not make him less of a fool, but at least he is an honest fool, unlike the Henry Blodgets of this world who would tout stocks they privately qualified as "lipstick on a pig".


January 12, 2009 10:53 PM

BW readers are very familiar with headlines itemizing the casualties of the latest real estate greed: homeowners shooting each other; suicide by train; suicide by drug overdose; domestic violence; and homicides. It is written, you reap what you sow. For those who have deceived much, the truth shall set them free, eternally. For Lereah, his solo journey in seeking the truth has just begun. In the end when the shallows grow long and his daily struggle finished, Lereah will find truth at long last.

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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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