Remember how unfair it felt when yourcoach punished the entire team with extra laps after practice because a couple of kids were goofing around during drills?
That’s how I feel every time the media assumes that what is happening to housing nationwide applies equally to every market in the country. When starts or other housing indicators are down nationally, it’s a safe bet that the local news media will assume they are down locally. Often the resulting coverage tends to be shrill, alarmist, and misleading. It doesn’t reflect local market conditions because members of the media didn’t do their research—or just didn’t know where to find the right information. Consumers who don’t know that all markets are local are understandably scared by such reports. And frightened people don’t buy houses—even when supply is plentiful, prices are reasonable, and interest rates are favorable.
In the challenging times that our industry is experiencing—and especially in the spring/summer sales season—it’s important to draw the media’s attention to local market conditions and use every tool at our disposal to engage potential buyers and counter the negative information that is bombarding consumers from all sides.
Ultimately, it is up to us as members of the home building industry to provide the media with accurate, market-specific information and educate potential buyers about local conditions and the reasons that now is a good time to buy.
One of the best resources for this purpose is the Myth Buster section of NAHB.org, which members can access at www.NAHB.org/mythbuster. It provides solid, verifiable, and relevant housing market information that can be extremely helpful in providing a reality check for people and showing that buying a home now can be a wise decision. Assembled and constantly updated by the NAHB’s Public Affairs staff, it’s a great resource, and I urge you to use the information provided in Myth Buster when you are dealing with customers and the media. Among the materials that it includes are:
Profiles of 360 individual housing markets from 1993–2007 including single-family and multifamily building permits, employment, population, and the OFHEO Home Price Index;
Current single-family and multifamily permit totals for states and major metro areas;
Q&As explaining myth versus reality in today’s housing market and addressing consumer housing concerns;
Talking points on why it’s a good time to buy a home;
Background information and talking points about the reports that are frequently cited by the media including the S&P/Case Shiller home price report;
An up-to-the-minute chronology of the credit crunch;
Consumer flyers and handouts that can be reproduced for sales offices.
Keep in mind that Myth Buster resources are intended to meet the needs of many different users, including HBAs. Individual members should coordinate their use of Myth Buster materials with their executive officer so that the member and the association can get the maximum benefit from these resources.