Monday, February 21, 2011

Too Proud to be a Realtor

For the last year or so the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been a bit cagier about their blind devotion to home-ownership, the use of their primary political tool of increasing home ownership rates, and their soulless lack of respect for anything other than their own private industry interests but now, with the looming restructuring of the nation's housing finance scheme, they are back at it again.

Let us recount that it was this very organization that spent 2006 and 2007… the two peak years of the housing boom… urging millions of hapless Americans to embrace home-ownership by taking out full page ads in top tier national newspapers and radio and television commercials all pushing messages with themes like “Buy NOW” and “It’s a Great Time to Buy or to Sell”.

Further, recall that during the peak and on into the worst of the housing decline, the NARs own chief economist at the time David Lereah worked tirelessly to spin the conditions of the housing market into the best light continually insisting that the nation’s housing markets were NOT collapsing but simply taking a healthy tepid breather… only deflating slightly.

It’s important to also note that Lereah has since admitted that he was fudging the truth and that he did so because the NAR was his employer earning him a spot in Time magazines lineup of “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis”.

Now… why am I drudging all of this up you ask?

The NAR is at it again and this time they appear bent on preventing some of the most important changes to our housing finance system that have been proposed for generations.

The plight of Fannie and Freddie have apparently thrown the NAR into a panic… they are desperate to prevent the loss of sales that would ensue should the Obama administration truly guide our national housing finance scheme away from the failed government-sponsored approach that has been in place since the late 1930s.

The NAR immediately followed the administrations release of the Fannie Freddie proposal with a podcast whereby the current president Ron Phipps cleverly condemns the current Fannie Freddie scheme while simultaneously insinuating that without government sponsored entities there would be no 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

Further, Phipps ridiculously insinuates that holding a pro-housing position is tantamount to patriotism and that supporting the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is essentially a patriotic act.

Finally Phips reframes the NARs position on homeownership pitting the fate of our economy on housing and construction and outlining a plan for a three city bus tour that seeks to “celebrate” homeownership while convincing politicians of Americans devotion to and aspirations for owning a home.

This is precisely the type of nonsense the country needs to seriously distance itself from.

Along with the finance industry, the government sponsored entities (Fannie, Freddie, FHA, etc.), housing speculators and hapless buyers, the NAR was a main agent of destruction that first fueled the housing bubble and then made matters infinitely worse as the collapse ensued by ensnaring millions more into the scheme merely to protect their own private interests.

Now as we move meaningfully closer to a major restructuring the nation’s housing finance scheme, the importance of which cannot be overstated, the NAR shows itself again to be firmly aligned against the best interests of the country.