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There’s always something to howl about

Foghorn Leghorn strikes out: What if they gave a war — and nothing happened . . . ?

Well.

That was underwhelming.

First, I make a brutally funny, completely accurate joke about that risible demagogue, Keith at Housing Panic.

Then Keith offers to sell out his weblog and his entire constituency of mouth-breathing morons to escape the ridicule that is his just desserts, his one indisputable claim on the wonders of the universe.

His “offer” is essentially extortionate. The “or else”?:

A war with the thousands of HP’ers so harsh and loud your practice and reputation in Arizona likely wouldn’t survive (beyond the damage you’re doing yourself)

Now anyone who is paying any attention here — a company that excludes Generalissimo Foghorn Leghorn — could have predicted with perfect precision what I would do in the face of something like this: Make it public, of course, in spades.

So: Keith puts on a predictable pantomime of outsized outrage, heavy on the high-moral dudgeon. And the mouth-breathing morons zoom in to BloodhoundBlog to poke around at random and issue inane comments — heavy on the profanity, light on the grammar.

This much is a big yawn. There are thoughtful, intelligent people among the BubbleHeads, but I can’t imagine that any of them is so lacking in self-respect that he would take “orders” from a detestable thug like Generalissimo Leghorn.

That’s as may be. The thuglets who do shake a leg the Leghorn way gave another perfect demonstration of why I have referred to them as Brown Shirts and Flying Monkeys. One Junior G-Man dug up and published my address (ahem — it’s on our web site) here and on Housing Panic. An amazingly drunk man in Connecticut left 23 very long incoherent voicemails on my cell phone. A cadre of relatively literate BubbleHeads tried to figure our how to censor me by means of Arizona Association of Realtors or Arizona Department of Real Estate complaints. It might occur to you to wonder if they have not heard of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution — but of course they have. Thuggery and principle are moral opposites, never doubt it.

There’s more, but it’s all nothing. I told Keith in advance that it would come to nothing. The original post stands. Forever will it be known that the modus vivendi of Keith at Housing Panic is Masturbating to Armageddon. If the jack-off had any sense, he’d steal it like every other joke I’ve written for him. It would make an excellent title for his autobiography, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Note also that I am unscathed. I stood alone — really the only way I know how to stand — against everything Generalissimo Foghorn Leghorn could bring to bear, and I bore no injuries. Keith has never laid a glove on me and he never will. Why? Well for one thing, I’ve fought and won against trolls who actually had more than two brains cells to rub together. But for another — and I told them this a long time ago — there is no heckler’s veto on the internet. The fact is that I had all kinds of power in reserve — deleting comments, banning particular commenters, cutting off comments — that I did not and would never use. One idiot kept insisting that I had killed her comments, and, when I proved that I had not, bitched that I had revealed her fake email addresses. Oh, well…

The Flying Monkeys are mostly gone for now, and they are free to stay gone. But they are free to return, too. We are smart, thoughtful people here, and minds eager to learn can pick up a lot. If they elect to behave badly, they may, in the fullness of time, discover how easy they are to ignore. Reality comes to us with an unanswerable elegance, each of us in our own time.

Thanks to Jeff Brown and Jay Thompson, particularly, for bearding the chicken as it were. Jay, Todd Tarson, Tyler Sookochoff and Jonathan Dalton all had posts on this disappointing little war. Tyler expresses confusion as to means and motive, and Jonathan suggests an alternate strategy:

Maybe, just maybe we as a group ought to take on the bubbleheads en masse the next time they strike.

I understand the sentiment, but I think this would be a mistake. Ganging up in any form ratifies and dignifies Keith’s thuggish philosophy. I am able to stand down the entire Flying Monkey army precisely because the principle of justice is entirely mine: I have every right to speak my mind freely, without fear of domination. We owe this ideal not to Lincoln or Jefferson or John Locke but to Socrates himself: Even when the thugs seem to have won, they lose.

We don’t answer crime with crime, we answer crime with justice. And to aid in Tyler’s understanding, what is the prefect justice for Keith’s ludicrous, posturing thuggery?: Ridicule, of course. He is nothing without that crowd of thuglets around him — and his greatest fear is that they, too, are laughing at him behind his back. As they have wits, they are. The man is the living personification of a joke.

Even so, not much of a war. Sunday to Tuesday — and really only Sunday. I was too busy to have as much fun as I might have had, otherwise, but I didn’t get to pick the schedule. No honest man can doubt that I won — “Masturbating to Armageddon” is still posted and my career is unscathed. But if a few more men of honor have left the Legions of Leghorn, that is the real victory…

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  • 37 comments

    37 Comments so far

    1. david lereah November 29th, 2006 12:42 am

      Your website is there for any prospective client to view, with the bubbleheads comments. Trust me, Swann, nobody would ever hire you as their realtor if they see this blog. Never.

      You lost the war, but you did succeed in driving traffic to your site, although in this case “any publicity is NOT good publicity”

      You are the Mark Foley of Real Estate. Pervert.

    2. Todd Tarson November 29th, 2006 7:07 am

      This all has been handled well Greg, in my opinion.

      I actually like the HP site… mostly for entertainment… other times to set the record straight (I often kill threads of discussion) — but never to name call or anything as childish as what we’ve seen on your sites from those visitors.

      To me, it isn’t really a bubble blog. Most comments and page views seem to be the ones that deal with politicians. In fact if the host didn’t offer the political content his blog wouldn’t be as read as it is.

      The host is an investor, and he gets called out for his tout’s from time to time…. hence the entertainment factor for me. I’m sure that he believes a home or property is not worth buying unless it can make 6 figures of profit within 12 months.

      The host truly believes that he is the smartest person in the room and is not bashful to tell you about it. Those kinds of people often finds flocks of sheep to follow them around so it is no wonder you get the kind of content from his flock that you do. They are lost without him and he is not here.

    3. Jay Reifert November 29th, 2006 9:22 am

      Well, I must say this much. I no longer have any fear that Greg may decide to pull the plug on my posting abilities at some point in the future.

      While I’m not keen on the publicly posted metaphor that set off the Bubbleheads, I’m impressed–beyond words–at Greg Swann’s stance against censoring individual posters.

      More hero points for you in my book, Greg.

      (I’m still interested in being elevated to the status of BloodhoundBlog Contributor.) :-) :-) :-)

      Jay Reifert, Broker/Owner
      Excel-Exclusive Buyer Agency
      Madison, Wisconsin

      true-agents@true-agent.com

    4. Joe The Consumer November 29th, 2006 10:03 am

      Gregg –

      Your reasons seem more Machiavellian than anything else. This wholesale invitation for Keith and HP to come at you is less about you exercising your first ammendment rights, and it’s less about you getting angry and frustrated.

      Am I the only one to notice that just after you ‘appear’ to completely lose your mind and start war with the bubbleheads, you introduce a new format to your blog, and add a whole stable of contributing writers?

      What a great way to increase traffic and bump up your relevancy on the search engines.

      You’re no war monger, Gregg…you’re simply a marketer. You baited Keith, and he fell for it – hook, line and sinker. Hell, you two could even have had a deal made together on this! The next time you seem to lose your mind or otherwise ‘break character’, I’ll expect it to preface a change of some sort on your blog.

    5. Greg Swann November 29th, 2006 10:18 am

      > about you getting angry and frustrated

      Say what? FWIW, I wrote the inciting joke about Keith months ago. I could do 40 minutes of stand-up on a putz like Keith ex tempore. If you think I’m angry at him, you can’t read.

      > What a great way to increase traffic and bump up your relevancy on the search engines.

      Our traffic is huge, not that I care. I gain nothing from a short-term burst of poor readers with bad credit. I wish they would find something useful to do with their time.

      > Hell, you two could even have had a deal made together on this!

      Oh, my. No one believes in the power of corruption more than the corrupt. The events are coincidental. I thought about pushing off the announcement of the group blog off by a week — to protect the new bloggers from a rain of gnat-guano — but most of the cloud of gnats was gone by Sunday night, and I’m pretty swamped through the end of the year.

      So you know: You do nothing for your credibility when you protest about honor behind a fake name.

    6. Greg Swann November 29th, 2006 10:32 am

      > I’m impressed-beyond words-at Greg Swann’s stance against censoring individual posters.

      For what it’s worth, I just had to zap a comment and ban a commenter in this thread. It’s only the second time I’ve done this, both for extreme obscenity.

      Note also that it’s technically wrong to call this censorship, which is done by the power of the state. Commenters here are guests on private property. I will not inhibit comments for disagreement, nor for salty language. Right now, the policy is obscenity, inciting flame wars or plagiarism. I think that leaves plenty of room for unfettered debate.

    7. Kaiser Sose November 29th, 2006 10:44 am

      Greg, you obsession with HP is almost frightening. In addition, your continuous masturbation references are not only offensive to the casual reader, but make me wonder if you have some deep-seeded insecurities that you are trying to express by picking a stupid fight with another blogger.

      You claim to have won something, but all I see is that you have lost. Lost your temper, lost your self-respect, and, possibly, lost your mind.

      I’m embarrassed for you.

    8. Jay Reifert November 29th, 2006 10:53 am

      Now Greg…you certainly have the right to censor anyone you want, and for any reason. It is your site. I also happen to agree with your reason for censoring the (two) individuals in questions.

      However, censorship is not merely a tool which can be employed by government. Censorship is exercised by those who have power, over those who do not. Here, you have the power. The rest of us, do not.

      Rather than debating what censorship is, I would suggest letting Merriam-Webster have the last word on whether censorship is exclusively a power wielded by government.

      That said, yer still my hero. :-)

      Jay Reifert, Broker/Owner
      Excel-Exclusive Buyer Agency
      Madison, Wisconsin

      true-agents@true-agent.com

    9. Joe November 29th, 2006 11:05 am

      For somebody who supposedly considers themselves far above Keith and the Housing Panic site, you sure do devote a large amount of column space to talking about him.

      I especially like your statement in your comment above:

      >Oh, my. No one believes in the power of corruption
      >more than the corrupt.

      And no one, Greg, is more preoccupied with another person’s opinions than the man who claims to not care about them.

      As I’ve said many times, Keith is about the worst spokesman that the Bubbleheads could have. He’s got poort writing skills, he’s heavy-handed on the doomsday scenarios, he’s obviously biased against anybody who even thinks about voting Republican.

      But that doesn’t mean the issues he rants on about aren’t real. In case you haven’t noticed, he generates almost no new content himself. He simply reacts the very real, very bad news coming out of the RE sector these days.

      You’re actually very clever by using Keith to try to counter-spin bad news, holding him up as an example of why Bubbleheads are not to be believed: after all, if somebody is this far off the deep end, then all the noise he’s making must be false too!

      The problem is that there are far more level-headed, unbiased observers out there making far more rational arguments than Keith does about why housing is in for a tough patch the next couple of years, ESPECIALLY in Phoenix. I notice they don’t get nearly as much mention on this blog as the blathering Keith does.

      Hmmmmmm.

    10. Level Head Thinking November 29th, 2006 11:56 am

      Joe said:

      “The problem is that there are far more level-headed, unbiased observers out there making far more rational arguments than Keith does about why housing is in for a tough patch the next couple of years, ESPECIALLY in Phoenix. I notice they don’t get nearly as much mention on this blog as the blathering Keith does.”

      Agreed. Greg is a decent writer and is able to string his arguments in a coherent fashion. Using Keith as the example bubblehead is tantamount to using Mark Foley as the exemplary Republican candidate. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. But asking Greg whether he thinks real estate is a good investment especially in Phoenix is asking the fox to guard the hen house. Real estate is a hard sell industry; do not let anyone fool you about this. Let us say for argument sake, Phoenix is overvalued by 46 percent Wall Street Journal Article Published Yesterday . And let us also point to the following arguments:

      1. FACT: Inventories are rising. Although there is a brief pause, this is expected since winter is a slow selling season.
      2. FACT: Prices are dropping. So why would you buy if you can get a home cheaper tomorrow?
      3. FACT: 1 Trillion dollars in exotic financing will reset in 2007. Further, this will tighten loan standards and thus accelerate price declines.
      4. FACT: We just reached a record low year-over-year drop nationwide CNN Money Home Prices post record drop in October 2006

      Why anyone would purchase a home at this moment in real estate is beyond my comprehension. Any reasonable person with a basic knowledge in Real Estate 101 and Economics 101 can see that the underlying asset is overpriced. You wouldn’t buy a Pinto for $10,000 simply because you can finance it for 10 years at $90 a month would you? The facts speak for themselves and anyone that believes that Greg isn’t self serving is delusional just like Keith is about his impending economic Armageddon.

    11. Joe November 29th, 2006 12:09 pm

      Level Head – your links are not going to the right places. You should update the comment.

      >You wouldn’t buy a Pinto for $10,000 simply because
      >you can finance it for 10 years at $90 a month would you?

      True story: yesterday I went to get my mail, and in among the usual flotsam of home refinancing offers that I get on a daily basis (no, lenders aren’t feeling desperate – no, everything is just fine!) is this one envelope that says I can refinance my home, take out $100,000 in equity, and have – get this – a payment of just $88.95 a month.

      I thought it had to be a misprint. Less than $90 bucks a month!?

      But no, it was true – provided I was willing to sign up (you guessed it!!) an Option ARM, pick-a-pay mortgage.

      Now, being the financially savvy person that I am, I quickly realized that there is no frigging way that my loan amount could possibly be paid down over time with that low a payment, and the balance would HAVE to increase.

      But you also have to wonder how many John and Jane Howmuchamonth’s are out there pouncing on these offers. Because, as they say, if they didn’t work and people didn’t buy them, companies wouldn’t be offering them.

    12. Level Head Thinking November 29th, 2006 12:15 pm
    13. Greg, not Gregg November 29th, 2006 12:29 pm

      I find the whole affair amusing.

      Keith at HP has lots of free time, and with the Phoenix market in the toilet, it appears that Gregg does too.

    14. FarmerBill November 29th, 2006 1:04 pm

      Gregg–

      I have found your pissing contest with Keith to be amusing. I hate to admit it, but I sneak a peek several times during the day to see the latest. I don’t know if you can claim victory over Keith yet, but I did notice that he pulled an earlier post today about Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Prez. Guess he thought, that with you scoring a few jabs in the last few days, that he better not stray off into his Islamophobic rants and appear like he’s off his meds again. If nothing else, you’ve forced him to clean up his act and try to stay on topic.

    15. Observer November 29th, 2006 1:50 pm

      I am not a big fan of Keith’s blog and related rants but read it as well as many other sources related to real estate, including Greg’s on occasion.
      I don’t agree with Greg’s assessment of the market which would preclude my desire to use his services as a buyer but not a seller (I am neither in this market) until now. Greg’s participation in this latest childish skirmish and comments regarding Keith just seem to lack judgement and professionalism in my opinion. In this sense, it appears that Greg may have won the battle by increasing webhits to his site but lost the war and potential customers by not sticking to higher ground.

    16. Kaiser Sose November 29th, 2006 2:01 pm

      “But you also have to wonder how many John and Jane Howmuchamonth’s are out there pouncing on these offers.”

      And this is the ultimate culprit of the housing bubble and Realtors simply don’t care (or know) what their clients are getting themselves into. Why should they care? They get their commish and wash their hands of the deal.

    17. Jay Thompson November 29th, 2006 2:46 pm

      “Kaiser” wrote: “And this is the ultimate culprit of the housing bubble and Realtors simply don’t care (or know) what their clients are getting themselves into. Why should they care? They get their commish and wash their hands of the deal.”

      Any Realtor worth a damn clearly knows what their clients are “getting themselves into”. Why should we care? Well, primarily, contrary to popular belief we are human beings with feelings. And on the evil Realtor side, washing ones hands of the deal is really bad for repeat business.

      Remarkably, virtually every single client I supposedly screw over with my evil ways comes back to me for their next real estate transaction. And they send their friends and families over too, in droves. If we did nothing but yank them around and rip them off, why do they come back? Why do they send their children to us? Hmmmm. Maybe, just maybe, they got great service, a smooth transaction and we even – GASP – did them right.

    18. Todd Tarson November 29th, 2006 2:55 pm

      But Kaiser… Joe November was talking about a refi offer. Realtors have nothing to do with refi’s. This is where you guys lose me… everything is on the Realtor no matter what.

      It is simply a non truth that the bubble heads continue to speak. Buyers and sellers are human beings and are free to make up their own mind to decide when is a good time to buy or sell. I can’t think of one Realtor that has held a gun to the head of a client to force them into anything. We work for our clients… we do their bidding. We serve the master, not the other way around.

    19. Kaiser Sose November 29th, 2006 3:39 pm

      Many new buyers are getting hustled into primary mortgages they don’t understand and will certainly not be able to afford when they adjust. My state had to set up a hotline for the tens of thousands who have been swindled into derivative loans on their primary mortgage in addition to the refis. Predatory lending is everywhere and, apparently, their benevolent brokers were nowhere. And, Jay, many more haven’t gone bust yet because the rates haven’t adjusted. The recent interest rate conditions are unprecedented. So, your “why do they keep coming back” comment is irrelevant. One $TRILLION more are resetting next year and I’m sure those phone banks will be looking for volunteers.

      I must admit that I apreciate your concern for your clients. The problem is, you are all so egotistical to think that all other realtors are like yourselves. Many, if not most, are not. Kick-backs and side-deals are rife within your industry. The number of realtors has soared in search of the fast buck, so please spare us your claims of ethics and professionalism among those who practice your trade.

    20. Kaiser Sose November 29th, 2006 3:55 pm

      Further to Todd’s comment… Sure, that flier was a pitch for a refi. But why do you all constantly dismiss the fact that the large amount of derivative financing and absurdly easy real estate lending standards may have a profound effect on future prices? You all make excuses, cite very selective data to support your arguements, and sweep the issue under the rug. It’s all simplistic supply and demand with no consideration as to how that financing will effect that same supply and that same demand.

      Then again, it doesn’t matter right? It’s ALLWAYS a good time to buy or sell a home.

    21. Todd Tarson November 29th, 2006 5:44 pm

      Kaiser said

      >>The problem is, you are all so egotistical to think that all other realtors are like yourselves. Many, if not most, are not. Kick-backs and side-deals are rife within your industry.

      Kick bacs and side deals are against the law, there is no way that this is normal standard real estate practice. I’ve never referred a client to a single lender, instead I have offered a free copy of the yellow pages or have suggested they talk to their bank. Why?? I’m not going to mess with RESPA laws.

      Suckers are born every minute, there are plenty of suckers out there and many get had by those you describe. I don’t deny it. But I do keep an eye out for bad real estate practice and let members of the public know that they can file complaints to help us get rid of such practices.

      There are slimeballs in every walk of labor and I doubt the percentage is any different. it is not the industry, it is the individual. You make a lot of assumptions about an entire industry and it simply stupid. Millions more are pleased with their representative than not pleased. But blood sells news articles so I’m not surprised that many (like Keith) fall for those reports like every single Realtor is bad.

      People on bubble sites wish bodily harm and even death on Realtors. I’ve seen it way too many times. I know why… it is because their argument lost and they can’t handle it.

      This industry is changing for the better, and it is Realtors like Greg and the many other bloggers that will lead the way to a better industry.

      But Kaiser, you are way too smart to hire a Realtor for property exchanges… no one is asking you to hire one.

    22. Todd Tarson November 29th, 2006 6:01 pm

      Kaiser once again…

      >>Further to Todd’s comment… Sure, that flier was a pitch for a refi. But why do you all constantly dismiss the fact that the large amount of derivative financing and absurdly easy real estate lending standards may have a profound effect on future prices?

      Well for one… people are still going to buy and sell property, with or without a Realtor.

      Are you suggesting a moritorium on the American people right to own property and do with it as they please, including buying and selling of it??

      Realtors aren’t the ones getting people up in a tizzy to want to buy a home. People come to that conclusion on their own… when they are ready. For many years I couldn’t afford to buy a home and there wasn’t one ad or press release from the NAR that could convince me otherwise.

      At the point that people are ready they may hire a Realtor to find a property and they may hire a lender to help them get some sort of a loan product they can afford. The buyers make all the decisions in the end.

      I’m pretty much duty bound to do my clients bidding, if he comes to me and says I want that home and I’m getting an option ARM or some upside down loan to pay for it… what should I do?? (BTW… that has never happened to me ever)

      I’m not desperate enough to hustle up some business on the backs of people that have no business trying to buy a home they cannot afford with a loan program that makes no financial sense… it isn’t profitable for me to take on hard cases… but in the end it isn’t how I see the situation, it is what the client chooses.

    23. Athol Kay November 29th, 2006 7:34 pm

      Whats your opinion on the Wall Street Journals statement that Phoenix-Scottsdale is overvalued 46% that Keith brought up? I’m from out east so no idea what that area covers or if it’s a correct assessment.

    24. Kaiser Sose November 29th, 2006 9:06 pm

      “For many years I couldn’t afford to buy a home and there wasn’t one ad or press release from the NAR that could convince me otherwise.”

      So why did the NAR spend millions on an ad campaign that stated now is a great time to buy? Are you telling me advertising has no affect on people’s decision making? Now THAT’S a revelation.

      You continue to avoid the real point of the bubble-blog sites; that real estate is way overvalued and unsustainable at current incomes and interest rates. All you reply with is how benevolent you are in representing your clients. That has nothing to do with price projections and the economic fundamentals behind them.

      Greg likes to stroke his own ego about how wonderful he is and that he has, somehow, “won” a debate with the “bubble bloggers” when he hasn’t done a damn thing but write nonsense.

      I’d be amazed if any of you can answer Athol Kay’s question about the WSJ calling your market overvalued by 46%. You’ll just spin some more BS.

      BTW Athol, anyone in their right mind would wait AT LEAST six months before even considering buying real estate in that oven full of spiders, scorpions and enormous amounts of easily developed land.

    25. Joe The Consumer November 29th, 2006 10:47 pm

      Greg, greg, greg (yes, that was condescension) I didn’t challenge your honor – what does that have anything to do with this? Nothing wrong with saying what you want when you want for whatever reason you want. Remember, first ammendment. The timing seemed suspect, but your explanation that it was a coincidence is good enough for me.

    26. Just another bitter bubblehead November 29th, 2006 11:02 pm

      Greg,

      Yeah I’m an incompetent sheep, a Keith puppet, whatever. You claim victory in the “war”, but I notice you didn’t respond to the paragraphs below that I posted on your “war” page. I think you didn’t respond because you can’t – if you make the plot of median house price to median annual income, I dare you to argue that the prices will not fall (much more than the small amount they have already fallen) to revert to the historical mean. If you do the back-of-the-envelope calculation you realize that the buy/rent decision is entirely dependent upon speculation about the direction of housing prices, you would then yourself have to be a “mouth-breather” to believe that you should buy now. Enough with the cheap personal bashing, if you want to play the professional act like it and let’s see some data. Really, I dare you. Make the plot and then try and argue the case for buying now.

      (Previous post)
      Here’s what I see on the “bubblehead sites” that in my opinion makes them more informative than your site and better resources: plots. Relevant plots of historical data. Let’s see a plot of the ratio of median home price to median annual income for the Phoenix area. The “bubbleheads” such as Rich Toscano in San Diego, Ben Jones in Northern Arizona, and yes, Keith at Housing Panic, seem to provide a lot more historical data on their sites than you provide your readers. I don’t want to see historical data since 2000, I want to see historical data going back to WWII or before. Make the plot, look at the ratio of home price to income, then try to explain to me what happened over the last couple of years that will not come undone, to cause reversion of this value to its historical mean. To me, a person armed with such information would have to be a fool to throw their money away on what appears to be nothing more than a mass mania by investment lemmings. I’m no seasoned investor but I’ve been financially awake for long enough that I was paying attention during a similar mania in the stock market during the late ’90s. I’ve done enough reading to know that real estate investement manias are not new phenomena, and the current state of the market seems to be well-explained as a mania precipitated by historically low interest rates, which were reduced to lessen the impact of the tech bubble. How long will rates remain at these historical lows? Was all previous fed policy misguided, and only since the tech bubble we’ve figured out how to do things? I surely doubt that.

      Please, make the plot (you and “Jeff Brown” say you’re the ones with data and the “bubbleheads” are just dataless, angry clowns, so – pony up), then make your argument as to why this ratio should remain so high of the historical mean going forward. See if you can make such an argument in the face of the data. I’d absolutely love to see that. To me this would settle the “war” with the “bubbleheads”. Frankly, I don’t like your odds, but I’d love to hear your argument – because I can’t even imagine what it would be, in the face of the historical data.

    27. Joe November 29th, 2006 11:23 pm

      >This is where you guys lose me… everything is on the
      >Realtor no matter what.

      Well, first off, Todd and Jay, I don’t feel that way, and I certainly never said that. I’m sure that the number of Realtors out there that are truly unethical is the minority.

      That said, however, I think you need to stop and ask yourselves why people like Kaiser Sose express the opinion that Realtors are a bad lot.

      To begin with, the NAR isn’t doing you guys any favors with this ridiculous $40M ad campaign trying to convince people that now is a great time to buy or sell. Imagine the reaction of someone who sees prices dropping in their area, sales off by 20, 30, even 40% in some places, and then they turn the page and there’s this clear advertisement saying “no, no, everything is just fine“.

      I’m guessing that your profession loses a little respect at that point. I imagine it almost feels like someone is trying to convince you that, no, really, that Enron stock you bought is about to shoot right back up at any minute.

      Second, when you come right down to it, Realtors are salesmen (and women). Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a salesman. Seriously. However, people just naturally don’t fully trust salesmen. And when they read stories about how housing is slowing down, and there’s always some quote from a Realtor included somewhere in the story that says something to the effect of “but it’s really not that bad! Now’s a great time to buy!”, it comes off looking a little clueless, and unfortunately that rubs off on the rest of you just by association. There’s this sense that at least some of you will do whatever you have to do to close the deal, because, well, that’s what people think that salesmen do.

      Again, I don’t think you’re all bad people, or even most. But right now you guys have an image problem, and the NAR ain’t making things better.

    28. Todd Tarson November 30th, 2006 7:06 am

      Kaiser

      >>So why did the NAR spend millions on an ad campaign that stated now is a great time to buy? Are you telling me advertising has no affect on people’s decision making?

      I’m a Member of NAR, I know all about th ad campaign, but haven’t seen any of it. I too think they are taking some sort of a risk. Why?? Because I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. You are a lot more confident in telling us what tomorrow brings… good on you. I don’t put myself into that position.

      The frenzy of buying and selling is over, that is a fact. Yet real people have certain needs especially when they are transferred in their job or simply take a new job in a new city. Many of those people want to buy a home. This is always going to be happening. Will the sales rates continue at record clips?? No, not right now. Now is NOT the best time to invest in real estate for most investors who like a short term hold (but truly when should it ever be??)

      It is a good time to buy right now IF YOU NEED TO. Plenty of my clients over the years have bought homes in cash… and I still haven’t had a client use funky mortgages to get into a home (I take that back, I have a IO loan on my own home and I am a great client of mine).

      Why is it a good time?? Because there is plenty to choose from and chances are you can make a good deal based on the current market. Now you will say that today’s good deal will look like the client got fleeced sometime next year… well you are the one with the crystal ball not me. There are risks in any exchange involving money so who am I to tell someone not to do what THEY WANT to do??

      Now I honestly have not seen the NAR advertising. Does it say that now is a great time to be an investor?? Probably not.

      Now you also said…

      >>I’d be amazed if any of you can answer Athol Kay’s question about the WSJ calling your market overvalued by 46%. You’ll just spin some more BS.

      I don’t set the values of property. Buyers and sellers do. Sellers pay me to attract buyers so I have to know at what point a buyer would be interested enough to purchase the property. Buyers are looking to negotiate down to a lower price and I’m seeing it on practically every deal… but not to the tune of 46% or anywhere near.

      Many sellers right now do not want to bow down to the level that ready willing and able buyers are willing to do business. Sales are slow. It is a big poker game right now between buyers and sellers. Oh and inventory levels are starting to drop… sales are still slow… but sellers are taking their listings off the market… new listings are way down… in my neck of the woods anyway.

      And I’m still not sure what the real value of anything truly is and how it can be factored for an entire area. Who really sets the values?? The WSJ?? The bubble boys?? Realtors?? Appraisers?? I say no to all of the above and I’ve already given my answer to who really sets the values.

    29. Todd Tarson November 30th, 2006 7:15 am

      Joe November

      >>To begin with, the NAR isn’t doing you guys any favors with this ridiculous $40M ad campaign trying to convince people that now is a great time to buy or sell. Imagine the reaction of someone who sees prices dropping in their area, sales off by 20, 30, even 40% in some places, and then they turn the page and there’s this clear advertisement saying “no, no, everything is just fine”.

      Teh key is ‘some’ places… not all. Even the on article that Keith posted from CNN about the 10 places not to buy… there was another segment that had a 10 places that you should buy in. I thought that I saw somewhere in Oregon (or maybe the state) that values have gone up like crazy THIS YEAR… the year the world was to come to an end.

      Builders have cut back on new projects… sellers are taking their listings off the market because they aren’t getting the price they want… other would be sellers are sitting on the sideline… and I think that will leave a situation in the market where those that want to sell will by any means (by even lowering price, gasp!).

      I’ll admit that this is the first slowdown I’ve experienced since I’ve been in this biz. Many other Realtors that have 3 to 5 times more experience have said that downturns happen… but people still buy and sell homes throughout all the ups and downs.

      Maybe NAR is making us look bad… but I don’t take any NAR marketing material with me to shove in front of my clients faces. I show them facts on the current market. And yes the facts aren’t all that rosy and it probably makes the decison harder for the client… but make no mistake it is THEIR decision. Certainly not NAR’s.

    30. Level Head Thinking November 30th, 2006 11:08 am

      First, no one commented on the CNN article I posted regarding the record October median drop nationwide. Notice how everyone can skate the facts about what is occurring. Looking at current real estate prices is like driving looking in your rear view mirror. Anyone with some common sense can see that prices will certainly fall in the next few years. Did any realtor think that prices would appreciated 100 to 150 percent in five years? I highly doubt it since nationwide real estate appreciates at an average 6 percent annually (www.census.gov).

      Todd said:

      “It is a good time to buy right now IF YOU NEED TO. Plenty of my clients over the years have bought homes in cash… and I still haven’t had a client use funky mortgages to get into a home (I take that back, I have a IO loan on my own home and I am a great client of mine).”

      Then I point you to this article Todd in the Los Angeles times:

      http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-fi-loanfraud29sep29,0,4945436.story?track=mostviewed-homepage

      Here is a quote from the article:

      “One lender recently compared 100 stated-income loans with the borrowers’ tax returns and found that only 10 of the borrowers were telling the truth about their wages, according to Mortgage Asset Research Institute, a division of data firm ChoicePoint Inc.”

      So the fact that you are ethical and do a good job in real estate does not mean that there isn’t something wrong with your industry. And from looking at the above study, it seems that the majority of what is going on in the industry is somewhat shady. Here is another quote from the article:

      “Sixty of the borrowers had exaggerated their incomes by more than 50%, according to the institute, which didn’t identify the lender.”

      Wow, seems like due diligence is being taken here by the lenders eh? When 50 percent of the borrowers are exaggerating (lying?) on their loan application I wouldn’t exactly call this ethical. Take this for what its worth, you seem to do an ethical job and I applaud you. But the fact that the NAR is spending millions trying to convince people that right now is a great time to buy (or sell) or anything that will land them a commission I am suspect of the industry. Just in case you missed their campaign ad you can see it here:

      http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2006/11/its_a_great_tim.html

      This ad runs every weekend, one full page, on the Los Angeles times Real Estate section. Again I find the lack of facts on this website typical of what is being said by the NAR. This positive thinking economics is wrong and anyone with an elementary understanding of basic finance can see right through this mess; unless greed is blinding them and there is no doubt that greed is a powerful driving force.

    31. Joe November 30th, 2006 12:16 pm

      Todd,

      It’s just “Joe” – the “November” part is coming from the posting date, but it does look like it’s part of my name.

      >Teh key is ‘some’ places… not all.

      Well, yeah, Todd, that’s kind of obvious. If I were a buyer in Nebraska today I’d have little to worry about. I even said as much in my comment.

      >but make no mistake it is THEIR decision. Certainly not NAR’s.

      OK, you missed the point. I’m not talking about who’s decision it is to buy. I’m talking about perceptions. When agents (and maybe you’re not one of them, that’s fine) try to convince people that all of the news that they are reading from multiple sources are somehow wrong and that the NAR really has their best interests at heart and to get out there and “BUY!”, it should not come as a surprise to you that there are folks who see that as disingenuous; that there’s somehow an ulterior motive there.

      And it doesn’t help that the NAR spent the first half of this decade cheerleading the prices higher and higher, and that your chief “economist” wrote a book that essentially told people that if they didn’t buy now that they were “missing the real estate boom.”

      And even though it is ultimately the buyer’s decision to buy, buyers often rely on agents’ advice without realizing that it’s not always fully impartial and unbiased.

    32. sdcellar November 30th, 2006 7:11 pm

      The problem with NAR can easily be found in their mission statement:

      The core purpose of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS? is to help its members become more profitable and successful

      (http://www.realtor.org/realtororg.nsf/pages/narmission)

      In my experience, any person or organization that has said their primary motivation is money has never impressed me and further, such have seldom been successful.

      Rather it is those whose primary focus is something more meaningful that end up truly successful (and usually some money to go with it). Whether it’s building the best product they can, providing a superior level of service, or just loving what they do, these are far better things to focus on than “to be more profitable”.

      Note, that I am NOT saying that this applies to all realtors by any means, but rather as an indication of one of the ways their own national organization paints them in a bad light at times.

    33. Athol Kay November 30th, 2006 7:16 pm

      I agree that NAR’s stated purpose is offensive. Yes of course any business does need to turn a profit, thats a given. But any good business mission also has some kind of social good in it. Even if that is just “to make great cars”, or “provide a stable phone service”, it’s still of general benefit. Simply stating “make mo’ money” is terrible.

    34. Todd Tarson December 1st, 2006 7:32 am

      All right Joe November… I mean Joe..

      >>When agents (and maybe you’re not one of them, that’s fine) try to convince people that all of the news that they are reading from multiple sources are somehow wrong and that the NAR really has their best interests at heart and to get out there and “BUY!”, it should not come as a surprise to you that there are folks who see that as disingenuous; that there’s somehow an ulterior motive there.

      NAR does not have anyone’s best interest at heart, save for their own Members. Dude, I’m in leadership — I know this very well. NAR is a trade Association… what are they supposed to do?? The could tell anyone outside the organization that the sky was green if they wanted to… but then they’d have to answer to the Members.

      Is it a good time to buy homes?? I’m sure you can answer that for yourself… but can you answer it for me?? How about for the millions of others in this country that will likely be moving sometime in the next 5 years for various reasons??

      Also, was there a real estate investing boom the first half of this decade?? Doesn’t matter who caused it (certainly Lereah did not on his own), was there a real estate investor frenzy going on?? The answer is yes.

      Most of the time I can easily pick out a ‘real’ investor and a newbie investor in the RE markets. In 04 and 05 I saw plenty of the latter. I’m STILL working with the former TODAY. I had plenty of newbie investor clients during those times and I asked them (like I ask questions of all my clients)… what caused you to want to get invovled with investing??

      The answer never was the NAR, Realtors, David Lereah, lenders, Alan Greenspan, Toll Brothers… the answer was always that they talked to ‘other’ people that were making a killing in RE and wanted to get in. I’m on the front line of this thing I’ve heard it all. The image that the bubble boys try to put across about the REIC or whatever… is bogus (plus most of the bubble boys are investors themselves so they have skewed thinking anyway).

      My little area got really affected by the newbie investor frenzy towards the end of 04, when the DEVELOPERS in Las Vegas STOPPED selling homes in new phases to non owner occupied’s. Those newbies that could no longer buy there came all of a 100 miles south to Arizona and gobbled up as many SFR’s as they could and turned them into rentals or flipped them. We never saw anything like that locally before. It certainly pushed the asking price beyond what most locals could afford… so the newbie investors are in a holding pattern right now looking for tenants.

      Now it was these buyers that were forcing the issue, not NAR or anyone else on the ‘hit’ list for the bubble boys. What developed was a grotesque sellers market and many sellers took advantage (bubble boy Keith did exactly the same thing as a seller).

      At anytime that I may have took ‘floor’ time at my office in 04 and 05, I would take an average of about 3 calls a day from property owners that were being deluged with letters offering to buy their property. These letters were not coming from Realtors… the were coming from investors and groups of investors. Owners were calling Realtors to verify sales values. Yeah, I made some easy money… I never met most of those clients as I did all the business over the phone and through email. It was a wild time, but I NEVER thought it would continue forever, no matter what NAR or Lereah might have been saying.

      Sales are slow right now (as compared to just last year), but sales happen every day still. What is missing from the market right now are the newbie investors. Sellers have to readjust their expecations based on factual information of what the market will bear. I can provide the factual information, but I can’t force anyone (on either side of a transaction) to take action. Neither can NAR.

    35. Todd Tarson December 1st, 2006 7:34 am

      Oh and Level Head…

      The link to the LA Times is dead, but from what you quoted I saw no mention of Realtors or the NAR. I only saw that buyers were lying about their income to obtain loans.

      What am I missing??

    36. Joe December 1st, 2006 2:00 pm

      >I can provide the factual information, but I can’t
      >force anyone (on either side of a transaction) to take
      >action. Neither can NAR.

      You keep arguing against points that I’m not even making.

      I didn’t suggest or even imply that you or NAR were forcing people to buy. Rather than re-state my points here I’d just suggest you re-read my posts.

    37. Level Head Thinking December 1st, 2006 2:50 pm

      Todd:

      Essentially the article highlights the vast number of mortgage fraud going on. “I only saw that buyers were lying about their income to obtain loans.” Well guess what happens when these loans reset, appreciation is zero, and they have to sell? Do you think it matters that they lied on their loans? This is massive. Think this is only one lender? How about the Option One arm of H & R block. Take a look at their 8-K filing:

      http://yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com/fetchFilingFrameset.aspx?dcn=0001217211-06-000339&Type=HTML

      They went from 10/31/2005 having an average rate of 7.48% and a FICO of 629 to 10/31/2006 and a rate of 8.75% and a FICO of 611. Yup, really hot market we have here.

      So you say so what? What does this have to do with Arizona? Well take a look below:

      NOVEMBER SALES FROM MLS

      2001 4,763
      2002 5,312
      2003 5,640
      2004 8,021
      2005 7,290
      2006 5,283

      CANCELLED 11/01/06-11/30/06 4,422
      EXPIRED 11/01/06-11/30/06 3,215

      CURRENT ACTIVES 45,260

      Point being, everything is connected from lenders, agents, brokers, sellers, and buyers. This is one massive speculative bubble. No one will argue with you that those who become wealthy own real estate. But any real estate investor will tell you that money is made during the purchase, timing, and location. By the above stats on your market, something tells me that right now is not the right time to buy property in your area.