I opened up the Sunday paper this evening to skim through it while I was cooking some Ramen noodles for my six-year old daughter, and I was struck by an interesting juxtaposition. There was a front page article bemoaning the fact that the housing slowdown had “finally hit Austin”. I looked over the article and I didn’t really agree with some of the points they made, but I suppose it doesn’t matter a whole lot since there would be thousands of people who wouldn’t know any better and who would simply take this as gospel truth.
I checked the water for the noodles and it still wasn’t boiling. I realized that this is very much like the current national real estate scene. Everyone is watching and waiting for it to change, but it probably won’t begin to shift until our nationwide gaze is directed elsewhere. Along these same lines, I wrote a post recently which compared the media to rubberneckers on the highway (“Please Don’t Read This Post!”).
I feel that the market will begin to make an upswing when the media gets bored with this topic and moves on to the next economic “tragedy”. Since the stock market is strong and inflation is in check, with gas prices dropping slightly, what else is there to talk about? They are forced to manufacture news, and we are the unlucky recipients of this attention.
Perception is reality, as any good marketing professional will tell you. If consumers perceive the real estate market to be (soft/bad/slumping/down – insert your own adjective here), it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the media has certainly done nothing to help our cause. It is an uphill battle to gain market share against the powerhouse that is the national media, but we will prevail, if for no other reason than the fact that they will tire of this story and move on eventually.
As long as consumers are watching the market closely, they will probably be intimidated into inaction. When they stop thinking about it too hard, they will begin to act and this will begin the upswing. I saw this same phenomenon occur for several months after 9/11. So, what can we do to slay this Goliath that the media has become? Well, frankly, we might just have to wait for it to pass. In the meantime, we should each:
- Educate our friends, neighbors, and clients about the realities of our market (i.e. real estate is local, NOT national)
- Be proactive in our marketing and advertising efforts
- Remind ourselves and those around us that real estate has been the most consistent investment in U.S. history
It is time for all of us to become part of the solution, rather than feeding the media beast any more. Don’t sit around watching the pot – make it boil!