Not every housing market is sinking. In fact, there are several pockets where sales, prices, and production remain relatively steady. The problem is that local media, particularly newspapers, rely on nationally syndicated reports about housing, which can paint a less than rosy picture of the market, perhaps souring potential buyers.
Builders in Connecticut and Madison County, Ala., respectively, decided to go on the offensive to get their success stories in the local media and counter coverage of the national scene. The state HBA of Connecticut, for instance, shares various industry and related statistics, forecasts, and indicators with its local chapter EOs (executive officers) and other staff to create a uniformly informed front for the media and members. Reps from the state chapters also maintain regular contact with reporters and editors, offering members as sources for articles and providing state and local statistics to weave into syndicated stories. The Fairfield County (Conn.) chapter also hosted a panel discussion about local media coverage that attracted reporters and members—and resulted in an article about the relative health of their market.
In Alabama, meanwhile, builders and brokers pooled their financial resources to launch a Web site and concurrent advertising and public relations campaign under the banner, “Every market is different … . Ours is healthy!” Kicked off in mid-April to coincide with an annual tour of homes (where visitors received a flyer promoting the top 10 reasons to buy now), the effort included a press conference at which HBA executives presented local housing trends and statistics, which at the time indicated that sales were at 98 percent of list prices with a 7.8 percent increase in property values.