A Times real estate column gets it right. Finally.

Flickr photo by Big Fat Rat.

Reading the business section of yesterday’s New York Times, I found myself nodding in agreement at a column written by Damon Darlin.  The headline was “Great Time to Buy (Famous Last Words).”

As any regular of this blog knows, I have so many pet peeves that I’d need a whole zoo to contain them. Mr. Darlin mentions one that looms large just inside the entrance of my teeming zoo and represented in the photo above:

“‘IT’S a great time to buy a home.’

“Real estate agents were saying that in 2001, as home prices were rising. They also said it when home prices peaked in 2005 — in fact, David Lereah, former chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), published a book that year titled ‘Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?’

“And many real estate agents said it was time to buy as prices began to drop — and continued to say it over the past several years as prices fell by an average of 33 percent in America’s 20 largest cities.

“Mr. Lereah would acknowledge that he had gotten it wrong. But from the perspective of many real estate agents, it is always a good time to buy.”

In case his readers missed the point, the columnist drives a stake into the heart of brokers who will say anything to make money:

“What they are really saying is that it is a good time to be involved in a transaction that generates a commission,” says Barry Ritholtz, C.E.O. and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He’s also author of ‘The Big Picture,’ an irreverent blog on markets.”

I couldn’t agree more with either gentleman. It makes my stomach crawl, my toes curl and my hair stand on end – pick your favorite cliche – when I hear other brokers make the claim at the top without reservation, qualification or, I hope, a clear conscience.

Have I ever said such a thing? Yes, I have, but not without adding all kinds of caveats having to do with interest rates, the health of the housing market, the condition of the economy and the expectations and plans of the buyer.

If you think I’m trying to sound holier than them, all I’m trying to say is that far too many brokers are a combination of self-serving, duplicitous or dishonest. That may well motivate a sale and a nice check. But it’s no way to build a relationship.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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