Another Inman News Real Estate Connect conference is behind us and as a result, I feel more informed, was able to meet new industry people, be exposed to new concepts, was able to see many colleagues, get another Inman bag full of pens and post-it note thingies. In other words, it was time well spent.
Brad Inman provided a great overview of his interpretation of where the market was going to the audience at the close of the conference, which was rational, clear and in many ways, the distillation of all the information and filtered spin that was presented over the previous three days. I need to listen to Brad more often – I wish his summary was available (Hey Joel, how about his summary for Inman TV?)
Housing market direction discussion throughout the conference was essentially presented by two camps which seemed to parallel the ongoing presidential primaries:
Sales agents, brokers and NAR current and former employees [ie Republicans] — This group is nearly always providing a silver lining because they are paid for their ability to sell a vision or idea. Thats their job. Thats being said, I was surprised at the quantity of pollyanna-isms still peppering the reasoning why housing will recover in 2008. In the last two main session panels on the last day, it was very interesting to hear a lot of discussion about second home units and how they posed no greater risk than primary home units because they weren’t flips (reality check: when someone loses their job, which mortgage payment do they stop first: their family home or the ski lodge condo?)
Economists and academics [ie Democrats] — There is an old saying that economists are paid to worry. Prescribers of the red light theory (people are more likely to remember the negatives such as all the red traffic lights they hit, rather than the green) love this stuff. The keynote panel discussion was terrific, (Barry Ritholz and Noah Rosenblatt were great at laying it all out) but everyone needed to receive counseling for depression when it was over.
Thats why this period of housing turbulence feels a lot like the presidential primaries. Its all about how the information is presented, whether or not its in the right context and whose interests are being served.