If you are involved with real estate, own property, or are an investor, then you already know how hard it is to get reliable information about future trends. It seems that our real estate ‘experts’ are wrong at least half of the time (for more information on ‘Experts’ see my previous article on the subject…..). Be these people are supposed to be professionals who have been to special schools, and have lots of training and experience with real estate. So how could they have totally missed the US Housing Crash in 2007? How can they keep telling us the economy is steadily improving when people are out of work, inflation is out-of-control, and health insurance costs have gone through the roof?
Don’t be too hard on the real estate analysts. It’s not all their fault. I am sure they do a fine job of analyzing real estate trends, and to the best they can to communicate it to the world. But, information is only useful when it is communicated, and there, as they say, is the rub. The real state gurus have to depend on mass-media to get the word out. Unfortunately, at least in the US, the mass media is 90% controlled by less than a dozen rich people with axes to grind, meaning they all have agendas. In other countries, the media is controlled by their respective governments, which is just about as bad. The exception is the internet, which is why these few select individuals, with so much lobbying power, keep pressuring the government (US) to exercise some control over it, citing Copyright Piracy (a very minor problem, and not even US-based), Net Neutrality, broadband usage, and such…, so they can control the internet as well.
These people do not just control newspapers and magazines. They also control the Broadcasting companies, radio stations, recording studios and companies, and even Movie Production companies like Paramount, MGM, and Disney. They have unbelievable control over who gets elected to public offices, and can exercise all kinds of influence with politicians, who depend on the media to stay in office. Mass-media is a monster that feeds itself…….
In the US, we are supposed to have “Freedom of the Press”, but few people understand what that really means. Most Americans are under the impression that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution means anyone can print, record, write, or say anything they want (as long as they have good-faith that it is true), and they are partially right. No one will stop you from writing anything, no matter how offensive, or negative it may be. But, how do you get it in front of the public? Freedom of Speech is a two-edged sword. It means that no one can force anyone else to print, distribute, or broadcast anything they do not want to. It also means that no publishing concern can be required to publish both sides of an issue, report it fairly, completely, or even accurately. They are free to push their agendas all they want with selective publishing. People complain bitterly about the ‘Liberal Media’, but who owns the outlets? They are 90% owned by less than 1 dozen, rich, powerful, mostly rabid, fire-breathing Liberals. And how did these people get so rich and powerful? They did it by owning and controlling property….real estate. So naturally, they have a vested interest in how real estate issues are reported. Negative reports can actually have negative effects on the market, making the situation worse.
Since the US currently has a Liberal Democrat as it’s Head-Of State, put there with prodigious help from the media, they do everything they can to support his administration and show it in the best possible light. The media reports anything Conservative in the most negative light, and anything Liberal, as positive as possible.
Trends in real estate are a focal point, since the owners of the media outlets have a vested interest, and politicians can only get elected through the good-will of the media. When they want to hide something, they simply change the vocabulary. Since 2007, the journalistic vocabulary no longer contains the words, Crash”, Depression”, “Recession”, or “Drop”. Instead, the real estate market has, “Adjustments”, “Negative-Growth” , “ Slight Improvements”, or is, “Steady”, when there is no growth.
So, now you can see why negative predictions often don’t make it into the media, at least until it is too late. And if they do, they wind up being so full of twisted words (I call them “Weasel Words, because like their namesake, they are stealthy, sneaky and insidious….) that the message is completely lost.
There are a few things you can do to try to get the real story on real estate. As long as it remains free (right now, it’s like the Wild West…anything goes….and I love it…), you can go to several privately owned websites and get different viewpoints and predictions, then average them out. Another tactic is to notice what the articles are keying on, then figure out what they are not saying. A lot of the time, what is not reported is more enlightening than what they so say. You can also go to trusted sources to get the raw data, and make your own predictions. As I said in my previous article on ‘experts’, statistics show that your predictions are often as good, or even better than that of ‘experts’.
Other than that, your best bet for accurate information is if you use a real estate investment counselor. They have a vested interest in seeing to it that you make money, and have no advantage at all in hiding or twisting what they tell you. If you don’t make money, they don’t either. And, since they deal with these issues on a daily basis, they are in a much better position to make predictions on what the real estate market may, or may not do.
Near the turn of the 20th century, President McKinley wanted to involve the US in hostilities against the Spanish, mostly because of their treatment of Cuba, and the US desire to control the small island country, only 90-something miles from the Florida coast, but he was afraid neither Congress, nor the American People would support a war at that time. He approached publisher William Randolph Hurst (who was ‘one of the few’ that controlled the media at that time) for advice on how to sell the war. Hurst is rumored to have replied, “Mr. President, you give me two weeks, and I’ll give you a war….”.
Remember, information is only as good as the media that distributes it. Get all the information you can, trust nothing, and verify everything, no matter what the source.