Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt captivated audiences with his speed and charisma during the 2012 Summer Olympics. You may have noticed “The Fastest Man in the World” slows his steps ever so slightly when approaching the finish line during his individual events, confident that he had clinched the win. But in the team relay, he never let up as he ran full speed through the finish line. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributes this to the team-mentality. Studies have shown that athletes often perform better in a team environment, he said.
REALTORS® also belong to a team, and consequently should work for the betterment of the industry and attainability of home ownership, Yun said during the economic update at the NAR Leadership Summit in Chicago Tuesday. Despite the fact that the economy is growing, the nation’s mobility rate has slid and owner-occupied sales are still stalled. Thus, the teamwork of REALTORS® is needed more than ever.
“Once you have the baton, you have to be the fastest runner in your association,” Yun said to the audience of REALTOR® association leadership and staff executives. “We have to get America moving again.”
Existing home sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million in June, up 8 percent year-over-year. Investors coming into the market account for many of those sales, but Yun called the growth “only a slight increase compared to what it could be.” Investors are needed, but Yun said he wants to see less hindrance for owner-occupied buyers, such as reevaluating the stringent underwriting standards from lenders that have been a stumbling block preventing buyers from entering market. Continue reading »
By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine
This week, I’m riding along with the Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour as it begins the southwestern leg of its journey across the United States. In case you haven’t heard about the bus tour, its purpose is to provide a forum and outreach to state and local REALTOR® associations, as well as talk to the public and the media about why public policy that supports home ownership is so vital, not only for the real estate industry, but for all current home owners.
From my perspective, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get out and meet members from different regions of the country, hear what’s happening in their market, and bring back their message to NAR. It also helps shape story ideas and tools REALTOR® Magazine can offer members in the future.
No doubt about it, the bus is working, the pro-real estate message is getting out, and people are listening. Numerous local and national media outlets have been writing about the housing industry. And guess what? Most of the stories have been spreading the message about the value of home ownership. Continue reading »
By Erica Christoffer, Multimedia Web Producer, REALTOR® Magazine
Experts from the banking industry, GSEs, and advocacy groups spoke in a cautiously optimistic tone during the Mortgage Liquidity Symposium at the Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. Consumer confidence, job creation, housing demand, and government support are the main four points, panelists said, that will help fix and broadening the availability of mortgage lending.
This video highlights some of the viewpoints presented. Also read REALTOR® Magazine’s news coverage of the forum.
By Stacey Moncrieff, Editor in Chief, REALTOR® Magazine
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama made scant reference to housing and no mention of the mortgage interest deduction. That was probably a wise move on his part — not only because most Americans favor the deduction and there’s speculation (but no evidence that I know of) that he’ll get behind efforts to reform it, but also because such a mention would have been an odd duck in a speech that set out to inspire a country wearied by economic and political turmoil — and to focus the nation’s attention on jobs.
That said, don’t get too comfortable. During the one-hour speech, Obama made clear his belief that tax reform is critical to reducing the nation’s deficit. Although no significant tax reform legislation is expected to gain traction in 2011 or even in 2012, count on NAR leaders to give new meaning to the term hawk as they keep an eye out for any proposals that could impact housing values and, in turn, hurt local governments.
Opening the State of the Union with a nod to new House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama went on to deliver blunt truths (“Our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure a ‘D’“; “America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree.”); recall the nation’s great triumphs, from the transcontinental railroad to the space program to creation of the Internet; and call on Congress to help foster innovation, improve the education system, and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. All three are essential to his top priority, he said, which is job creation: “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.”
In the real estate industry, that was bound to be a welcome message since healthy real estate markets depend on a strong job base. Whether Obama’s rhetoric will translate into a lower unemployment rate depends to some extent on how well the Democratic president, Republican-controlled House, and Democratic-controlled Senate work together.
A House United, Somewhat
Both before and after Obama’s speech, commentators talked about the sense of civility — in the wake of the Jan. 8 Tucson, Ariz., shootings — that permeated the chamber. House and Senate members, sitting in an unorthodox arrangement, wore black-and-white ribbons to honor the shooting victims. The family of Christina-Taylor Green attended the event as guests of First Lady Michelle Obama, and Mark Kelly watched from the Houston hospital room, where is wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is being treated.
REALTOR® Magazine Senior Editor Katherine Tarbox was in Washington for the speech, and reported on the civil tone of the evening:
Following from his progress during the lame-duck session, President Obama struck a chord of bipartisanship — and members of Congress got in on the act. For the first time in history, members from opposing parties sat together, applauding as the leader of the free world praised America for its greatness. “Remember, for all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world,” Obama said.