Realtors® Cautiously Optimistic about Future of Housing Market

New Orleans, November 06, 2010

Real estate experts were cautiously optimistic about the current and future state of the industry at today’s State of the Real Estate Industry forum during the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Panelist Margaret Kelly, chief executive officer of RE/MAX, said today’s market shouldn’t be called the new normal because the old market was abnormal. “The spike up and down in the housing market wasn’t normal so we shouldn’t be measuring ourselves against it,” she said.

Kelly said that despite some challenges there are plenty of opportunities in the housing market, adding that low mortgage interest rates, abundant inventory and stable prices are attracting buyers to the market right now.

“To be successful in the current housing market, real estate professionals need to educate themselves about buying and selling distressed properties and working with investor buyers, who are a significant part of the market,” said Kelly. “Education is critical. Real estate professionals should be learning how to handle short sales, how to market themselves and find buyers, and to really understand market conditions,” said Kelly.

Kelly said she hopes the government will incentivize businesses to create more jobs, which is the only thing that will help the housing market fully recover. “Consumers want an instant fix but we need to be patient,” she said.

Panelist Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America, Inc., said the nation is in the seventh inning of the housing market correction. He noted that today’s real estate market closely resembles the market in 2000, which many people thought was a good year in real estate.

“The rise in sales and prices during the boom was unrealistic and unsustainable, and all of that nonsense has been pushed out of the market – today buyers need to have jobs and be creditworthy,” said Peltier. “The underlying principles of home ownership are now the same they were 100 years ago; we want a sense of home and community, we strive for long-term not short-term home ownership, and we have sense of pride for owning a home.”

To achieve a full housing recovery, Peltier said that the market must work through the foreclosure issue, which is dragging down home sales and prices, consumer confidence and the health of the housing market and economy.

“Stay the course and continue to give great service, and someday we’ll be back to a normal market with solid footing. We’ll have a much more logical housing market moving forward.”

Panelist Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, told attendees there are no signs that the housing market will recover in the short term and that many agents and offices have had a difficult time adjusting to the new conditions by “right sizing” their offices with fewer staff and lower budgets. Perriello said that now is a great time for brokers to grow their market share through mergers or acquisitions and that finding good agents, providing quality education and good market information is key for success.

Perriello said agents are working harder than ever for less money and are facing many challenges, including working with distressed clients who can’t sell their homes, are underwater on their mortgage or are facing foreclosure.

Matt Vernon, senior vice president for retail sales at Bank of America Home Loans, offered perspective from the lender community. Vernon said short sales were never designed to be a mass market transaction in the industry and they’ve posed many challenges for lenders. He admitted that in the beginning, Bank of America and other lenders didn’t respond quickly enough to handle the large scale of short sale transactions, but hiring more staff, increasing education and developing an extreme customer focus have helped to shorten and improve the process.

Vernon said his organization is fully committed to pursuing alternatives to foreclosure for home owners and despite rumors, credit is available to consumers for mortgages and refinancing.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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