Century 21 launches a blog and market cheerleading ensues

The real estate trade press was abuzz last week with the launch of @C21 Home Matters, the new blog from the gold-jacketed stalwarts of the traditional real estate industry, Century 21. Given that real estate blogging has been around for 6+ years at this point, I am not sure that launching a blog this far into the 21st century is particularly newsworthy. However, it is good to see old-time real estate companies embracing more open communication with their customers.

In the spirit of old-school real estate pitches, one of their first posts is: “Take the Plunge! There’s never been a better time to buy a home,” and to drive the point home, yet another post: “Why now is a great time to buy a home.”

…media reports about falling prices and foreclosures may be be making you hesitate before taking the plunge and buying a new home. The truth is this: There’s never been a better time to buy a home.”

Pumping up the market is nothing new in the land of Realtors. This pitch has been around for as long as agents have been collecting commission checks. Realtors have been taught over the years that their job is to instill confidence in the market and convince buyers to buy because of the “great opportunities” out there, regardless of current economic realties. The CEO of Century21 stands in front of a sign when training agents that pretty much explains it.

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What surprises me is that we seem to have collectively learned nothing from this market downturn. The crazed cheerleading and baseless optimism during the bubble did the consumer no favors, and now that times are tough, the message gets louder again.

For the record, I do believe there are some positives to being a buyer right now, and make no mistake that the health and profits of our own company hinge on the health of the real estate market. I would even venture to guess that some people will become wealthy by making the right bets coming out of this downturn. But to say with such authority that it is a great time to buy ignores fundamental problems in the real estate market and the overall economy that still need to be resolved.

As a real estate agent, I am out in the market every single day, so chances are that I have a pretty good pulse on the local real estate market. I even have opinions on where I think the market may head in the near future, but it is not my job to sell you on my optimism or pessimism about real estate. Our job is to facilitate and assist you in the home buying and selling process when the time is right for you. For some folks, it may be an excellent time to buy, but that is driven by personal situations like a growing family, a job relocation or other personal or financial changes. For other people, it is a terrible time to buy. Maybe you don’t have enough for a down payment and reserves, or maybe you anticipate a relocation in two years. If that is the case, you should probably wait to buy real estate.

I am using Century21 as an example, but the problem is industry-wide. I’ve been in meetings with a crowd of agents that feel like an evangelical revival camp, with rousing pep talks and raucous applause for the “never a better time to buy” message. Whether or not it is true, it is not our place to convince anyone about their own homeownership goals and timelines.

It is good to see an established brand like Century21 venturing into the blogosphere, but I hope they can tone down the rhetoric on why it is a great time to buy and focus on the helpful and informative content that modern consumers hope to find on a real estate blog.