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8 January 2010

Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

The new year is already starting out with a bang, with a plethora of news buzzing about in the real estate industry. As positive and negative reports and articles surface about what’s to come in 2010, we have learned that—in the words of The Wall Street Journal—the outlook for 2010 is uncertain, at best.”

There is a “tug of war” mentality between those in the real estate industry and Washington who believe the government should do more to speed the recovery of the market versus others who believe the real estate industry should be self sufficient. Some policy makers at the Federal Reserve, for instance, believe more might need to be done in the housing market while others believe existing programs should be scaled back. The most discussed form of support from the Capital is the tax credit, which has significantly helped with home sales. Here’s proof of its success:  As the original tax credit expired, the number of houses placed under contract fell sharply in November. As I have said before, we should expect to see something similar in May, as the extended tax credit program will have just ended. This is a prefect example of how we should take advantage of all programs available to us now, but not to solely rely on them for the future of our industry.

I happen to teeter in the middle, agreeing that in the interim we need to take advantage of the government’s crutch of tax credits and programs to hold down mortgage rates, but long term we need to do more than rely on a government-funded band-aid. Collaboration is essential to help reinvent the industry to avoid a housing bust in the future and we all need to think about how we reinvent our industry in today’s changing world. What are you planning to do differently in 2010?

Not surprisingly, with the holidays and people gathering with their families, finding perfect gifts for loved ones, we saw a lull in December house shopping. Also during this time of year, people are traditionally more cash-strapped, which, along with with mortgage troubles and job losses, has perhaps led to the latest wave of bankruptcies. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel as the pending home sales index for the month was 15.5 percent higher than it was a year earlier. There’s something to celebrate!

This week is perhaps one of the most exciting for consumer technology buffs as the Consumer Electronics Show begins in Las Vegas. According to MediaPost, the tradeshow will likely introduce several products that will pique people’s interest. It will be interesting to see what products are revealed, especially in the realm of smartphones: a 21st Century real estate agent’s best friend and personal assistant. Stay tuned.

For all of you playing in the online content and video world, a new survey by The Neilson Company tells us that consumers trust and rely on content produced professionally over content produced by consumer peers. If you’re considering developing and posting videos or images in the new year as part of a marketing scheme, it’s best to spend a little more dollars and have something done more professionally, rather than rely on your consumers to produce content. That being said, if all you have is a FLIP Camera, don’t let that stop you! Something is likely better than nothing.

On to advertising… we should keep our eye on a new experiment from the U.K.’s Outdoor Advertising Association, which is setting out to prove that outdoor advertising can drive response. The company is tracking consumer reaction and awareness to advertising on buses, street signs and more. The results could help those in our industry determine how to target outdoor advertising to reach “cold” new consumers.

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