Irresponsible Market Cheerleading by Washington Realtors in 2007

Tim Ellis from Seattle Bubble saved an ad campaign run by the Washington Realtors in late 2007. The campaign pitched the “strength and stability” of the Washington housing market, how our market was the “envy of the nation,” and how they were tired of listening to the “doom and gloom of the national media.”

In hindsight, it is easy to look back at just how flawed that thinking was and how funny it all looks now. True, the Seattle market did not feel the effects of the real estate downturn as soon as most cities, but the problems in the market ran deep and eventually took hold throughout all cities in the US. Did the Seattle area fare better than other major cities? Yes, the real estate pain being felt elsewhere is certainly higher in areas that were ripe with speculation and overbuilding, like Las Vegas or South Florida, but the Seattle housing market has suffered like the rest of the country.

What is striking about this is that the Realtor association feels it is their place to cheerlead and “pump up” the state of the market in order to drive more transactions for their Realtor members. I still see this mentality in our industry, with many Realtors believing that they need to sell you on why it is “such a great time to buy.”

Our job as real estate brokers is first and foremost to facilitate the purchase and sale of homes, while watching out for our clients best interests in the process. All of us have opinions about where the market is headed, but none of us has a crystal ball for where exactly the economy will lead us. The only “good time to buy” is when it is the right time for your personal situation. Whether it is growth of a family, a job transfer or a change in family situation, those are the primary factors which drive whether to buy or sell a home. Consumers need to be educated about the state of the market, interest rate conditions and the overall health of the economy in order to make their own decisions to purchase or sell real estate.

Real estate agents can offer guidance and opinions, but it is NOT our job to hype the market. Realtors and their associations who believe that relentless cheerleading will somehow alter basic economic realities are being irresponsible and ignoring one of their key responsibilities to the consumer.