Monday, May 14, 2007

A Modest Proposal for the NAR Marketing Team

This is one of my favorite posts from the past. I enjoyed writing it so much and the response to it was so positive, I thought I'd throw it up to the top of the list. If the NAHB keeps up with their nonsense, they may be next. Enjoy!

There I was, sitting on the couch, feet up on the ottoman, relaxing with a nice glass of single-malt, watching a little Letterman before bed and then it happened...a commercial from the NAR came on.

There were attractive families from an inclusive range of demographic groups, touring well-staged houses with up-beat music and some fairly good production values. The families all appeared happy and ready to sign on the dotted line for a home. The voice over for the ad among other things said that
"When you have a family it is always a great time to buy", "prices are favorable" and "interest are at historic lows", but thankfully I'd only had the one Scotch and was able to resist the temptation to phone up the local 24-hour broker and place a bid on a home.

This bit of theatre was brought to us by the National Association of Realtors as part of their public awareness campaign titled: "Good Time to Buy." This multi-million dollar print, radio, outdoor, web and television campaign is designed to convince the public that buying now the smart thing to do. They even have banner ads for local agents to put on their sites, with my favorite banner being:

Now, don't get me wrong. I'd like to have a fence of my own some day, too. I'm not sure how proud I will be of my fence, but I think it were a good fence and it played nicely with the other neighborhood fences, I might be able to well up with pride like this fella in the ad. There's also a print version of the ad, that does a little better job of conveying the message, but only a little.

These ads are all target at we "fence-sitters" and are designed to compel us to join the fray and buy a fence (and possibly a home as well) of our own.

(Which I think raises a very important question. If we're fence-sitters, but we don't yet own our own fence, exactly whose fence is it that we're sitting on? Is it okay with that person that we sit on her fence? Is it considered a trespass to sit on another's fence? What if that fence borders a common area or is subject to an easement, are we okay then?)

The ads try to speak to the heart, playing on emotions, using messages and images of pride, choice and family security so we feel good about buying a home. They also address the head, telling us rates are low, prices are favorable (for whom, they don't say) and that there are a lot of choices (read: a lot inventory) so that buying at this point is the rational thing to do. But the ads fail on both counts and won't end up compelling a single person off the proverbial fence and into the real estate office.

It's not that we bubble-sitters don't understand all the social, emotional, status and (at some point in the future) economic benefits of home ownership--we do and we don't need to be sold on them and trying to do so is simply a waste of money. What they NAR needs to understand is that, while we appreciate the benefits of ownership, we aren't willing to pay today's price for those benefits. In other words, the cost/benefit ratio is out of whack and until it's corrected, we fence-sitters are not buying.

This may mean a redirection of their advertising dollar from the buyer to the seller.

I've heard many a realtor bemoan the fact that their sellers are unrealistic in their pricing expectations. Based on what I've seen on the market and the lengthening DOM for properties, I have every reason to believe that the Realtors are right. If the NAR were to spend as much time, energy and money educating owners on pricing and the benefits of pricing their homes correctly as they did reselling buyers on home ownership benefits, I think they could really impact sales volumes. With the price benefits ratio in alignment with buyer's expectations, home would start to sell and the commissions would start rolling in once again.

Now, I realize that our friends at the NAR have thrown down a lot of scratch on the "Good Time to Buy" campaign and that they might be a little tapped at the moment. So being the populist humanitarian that I am (we all need to make a living, right?), I thought I'd come up with some ideas, at no charge, to get things rolling. Below you will find some print ad examples for my pro bono seller campaign, "Discuss it with a Realtor."

This first piece is directed at a new seller (click on it for a larger image):

While this piece is directed toward price-stubborn sellers:

And this last piece is to motivate sellers in distress:

I'd like to invite our friends at the NAR to use these pieces, in any way they see fit, to help bring some life back to the real estate market. As I said before, I'm not looking for any payment for these ideas, I'm just trying to do my part.


Sunset Beach Guy said...

Nice work! Keep it up.

HB Bear said...

Sunset Beach Guy,

Thanks for the compliment. Glad you enjoy the blog.

HB Bear said...

I got an email from a reader (name witheld on request) where the following was conveyed:

"...with the middle finger picture and crack about the fico score... seem to have it in for people who got screwed when they got subprime loans..."

My opinion couldn't be any more different if I tried. I think a lot of hard-working, decent people got screwed in this debacle. Others got screwed because of vanity or greed. Like anything else, the people being affected by the subprime meltdown fall into a spectrum where I feel more less sympathy for those people.

But before I get to that, the finger in the picture is not coming from me. It's coming from the same guy who gave you your original loan. They are the ones who are denying you the loan, whether they want to (very likely) or not (not so much.)

If you were one of the unfortunate people who where bilked in their loan process or were a family of modest means to tried to "stretch" into your first home, you have my sympathies. This just has to suck for you. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone.

If you are a six-figure family that wanted to buy beyond your means to keep up with the Joneses, I can understad that, but at the end of the day, social pressure being as bad as it is, you still could have waited. This sucks for you, too.

Now, if you're someone like I see on County Records Research, that took out a second or a third loan, two or three years after you bought your house to spend on Botox injections, I have to tell you you're just the other side of the line from where I sit. You could have done without it. Easily.

If you're a flipper, then unlike everyone else that finger actually is from me. It's like any other risky investment. You rolled the dice, you lost, now live with it. You probably also denied many people access to housing that they otherwise would have been able to afford. You suck.

Markus Arelius said...

Love the Realtor ads. Very creative.

The sad thing is, they probably would be very effective in Orange County at getting the message out to the public in a couple of months.

HB Bear said...


I had a great time putting them together. Glad you enjoyed them.

powayseller said...

I love those ads! Very funny.

Schahrzad from

HB Bear said...


Glad you enjoyed them.

HB Bear

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