Hatfield Consumers vs. McCoy Agents

As I read the Inman News letter to editor written by Professor Erik Gartzke regarding Dian Hymer’s article  ‘Is Buying Home a good investment” I heard the popping sound of a can of worms being opened. Yesterday, as I read through the Inman Blog (excerpted below) I saw the worms wriggling out:

"Dian Hymer stated that, buying a home is a good investment if, a) you can afford it, b) if are ready to put down roots in a community, c) If you want to invest in your personal happiness.

Her premise is if you’re planting roots and becoming part of a community, you’ll inevitably swing though up and down cycles. Over the long term, historically, the home will appreciate."

The good professor disagreed. Violently. He believes now is a historically bad time to buy and took Dian to task in blatant disregard of her expertise. Follow up posts by agents and non-agents clearly indicate the line being drawn in the sand – agent opinion on one side, consumer opinion on the other.

It doesn’t begin or end here. Numerous articles, studies and voices are exposing the fissures in the solid ground of trust real estate once stood upon. So what’s at the root of all this?

Could it have anything to do with the gold rush of recruiting that has taken place over the last 10 years, which exposed homeowners to hundreds of thousands of uneducated and inexperienced practitioners?
Could it have anything to do the unregulated self-promotion that allows anyone with a license to call themselves an “expert”?

Could this have anything to do with the decay of the professional real estate press?

Could it be that the ethics card — the premise NAR rests its entire marketing hat on — seems hollow?

In my local paper this weekend, over a dozen agents advertised themselves as the # 1 listing agent for the month of October. I know I can’t be the only one who looked at that and wondered how that could be.   

When professionals like Dian who actually have credibility are treated with such insolence, maybe it’s time to sit up, take notice and ask some hard questions.

Do consumers trust real estate agents?
Is buying a really home a good investment today?

As I leave for NAR and prepare walk the convention floor along with the people tasked with brokering our most precious possessions, I’m hoping that I can come back and report that amid the hoopla, there’s deep attention to these issues and can isolate who among the millions in real estate are offering consumers something that doesn’t draw fire.