‘It’s a great time to buy or sell a home,’ says $40 million marketing push(Vikas Bajaj, The New York Times, 11.03.2006)
It might go down as the “Got milk?” moment for the housing sector.
Just as dairy associations, with their widespread ads, have tried to convince Americans of the many benefits of milk, the National Association of Realtors will begin promoting the notion that buying a home is an unalloyed good. Their $40 million campaign boldly declares: “It’s a great time to buy or sell a home.”
The ads will try to counter the drumbeat of dour housing data and news by making the case that historically low interest rates, a large supply of homes on the market and the group’s forecast of rising prices next year make now an ideal time to buy a home.
The campaign, developed by the Most Agency, based in Newport Beach, Calif., starts today with full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. It will make its way into other newspapers, including The New York Times, over the weekend and onto television and radio networks early next year.
“In visiting our local associations and state associations, we were hearing our members saying, ‘We are getting beat up out there,’” said Thomas Stevens, president of the trade group that represents 1.3 million real estate agents and owner of a real estate brokerage firm in the Washington, D.C., area.
“We think we need to tell them that the stars are aligned right now, and the conditions are ideal for buyers,” he added.
Independent economists, however, are somewhat more skeptical. Many predict that sales and prices, as measured by the association, which fell in August and September from a year ago, might decline further because there are too many homes on the market and because the rapid run-up in prices has put home ownership beyond the financial reach of many people.
“You can make the case that prices will rise in areas of the country that did not have a bubble,” said Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist at Lehman Brothers. But “in the hot markets, I would say you are in for a two- to three-year adjustment in prices, not a collapse but a steady drop in prices.”
So far, prices have not dropped in the Puget Sound area. In September, the median price in Pierce County was up 1.35 percent from a year ago.
Harris recommends that buyers base their purchase decisions on whether they intend to live in an area for a few years, not on the outlook for home prices.