The prevailing wisdom is not to write an email while you’re still angry, but I’m not sure if that applies to writing on your real estate blog, so here goes. I’m hopping mad right now due to something another Austin real estate agent has done that I think is completely irresponsible.


Angry Realtor

I turned on the radio after dropping off a really great guy on his way back to the airport. He’s interviewing here and wanted to see some neighborhoods near to UT to help in his relocation decision. A radio commercial came on to 102.7 – the comedy station I prefer, trying to grab a few laughs on the way back to Mueller.  The advertisement was for an Austin area Realtor, and it thoroughly sickened me.

Some of the statements made were factual – talking about changes in upcoming loan regulations. Sure, when you’re trying to attract new clients, it helps to give them some “buy now and get the good rates” kind of message – I get that, and it’s not too offensive – a great way to start a conversation with a first time home buyer. As one of my first time home buyer friends posted today:

“With a conventional loan, once you pay off 22% of the house, the mortgage insurance amount will fall off of your loan. This is also true (AS OF RIGHT NOW) for FHA.  As of June 3, 2013, if you get an FHA Loan and pay less then 20% down, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Moral: AVOID AN FHA LOAN IF POSSIBLE AFTER JUNE 3, 2013.”

That’s probably a little extreme, but it shows that there are some reasons to buy now rather than later. So what really got my goat about the radio commercial? It was the bare faced lie:

“…take advantage of the buyers’ market in Austin right now…”

Hello? Where have you been for the last year, Austin area Realtor? This is so completely wrong, that I think it casts all real estate agents in a bad light. It doesn’t take long to be informed. I took all of 17 seconds to log in to the Austin Board of Realtors site and pull a graphic and two lines of text that shows that this is 100% nonsense.

Here goes:

Hmm. Let’s see – more homes sold than last year for the same month, and there are less homes available. And an increase in prices. Does that sound like a buyers’ market to you?

Okay, so the diagram doesn’t show the entire story, here’s the one line that you would need to read to figure it out:

2.6 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 1.6 months less than February 2012.

Okay, so say that even this doesn’t mean anything to you, then if you look at the asterisk footnote, this surely must give it away:

* The inventory of homes for a market is measured in months, which is defined as the number of active listings divided by the average sales per month of the prior 12 months. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites that 6.5 months of inventory represents a market in which supply and demand for homes is balanced.

So, not only is Austin housing inventory down, it’s very much less than a balanced market. And no, Austin area Realtor, it’s not a buyers’ market. It’s an extreme sellers’ market.

So what have I done? Just ranted about it on my blog? No, I’ve called up to ask about it several times – straight to voicemail. That’s what one is supposed to do right? Get in touch. The next step is to look at the Code of Ethics, again discussed on the Austin Board of Realtors site and elsewhere:

First established in 1913, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics establishes time-honored and baseline principles that come from the collective experiences of REALTORS®. Those principles can be loosely defined as:

  • …Truthfulness in statements and advertising…

I’m so annoyed about this that I plan on getting the advertisement taken off the air as soon as possible. It’s just plain wrong. If you want more information on the real picture of the Austin market, please give us a call at 512 215 4785 or get in touch with a real estate agent who despises false advertising.


Stacy Weitzner · April 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Garreth, I’ve heard that ad and had the same reaction. And I am not a realtor. And we’re not looking to buy a house PRECISELY because we know what an extreme seller’s market it is. Not only that, but in doing work with the City of Austin I’ve been made *very* aware of the kind of restrictions and challenges that exist for building and/or renovating. So for now, we’ll continue to rent — grateful for the fact that the family that owns the home we live in are holding onto it for reasons of the heart rather than the wallet. (And when we are ready, we know who to call!) Thanks for calling this out. I’ll know what *not* to listen for in the hopes that you’re successful in getting the ad off the air.

    admin · April 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Hey Stacy – glad to hear it. The funny thing is that mostly websites and real estate blogs attract buyers, so theoretically one should be optimistic and full of joy when you post on them. The sad fact is that it’s tough for buyers right now – you have to be prepared for fast moves, unconventional offers, and multiple offer situations, even when homes aren’t listed on the MLS.

    Sure, rates are low, and prices may be going up, so there are some incentives to buy now rather than later. But if you’re telling people it’s easy to be a buyer right now, you’re only going to make for heartache later when reality bites. It’s tough out there right now. Unless you’re a seller of course. I’m glad your situation is stable right now and you’re not forced into the buying market. Choice is always good.

Scooter Holiday · April 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

This tells of an even bigger, more generalized problem I find my face shoved into more and more often: truth in advertising was a fad, now long dead. By and large, consumers are not treated with respect. Advertisers have realized they can get away with treating their clients like idiots, and I think people like this guy probably get rewarded for it in the end. The people who realize he is fear mongering do nothing about it, and those who don’t are more likely to give him some business. Despite the unprecedented access to information that we have today, the AVERAGE consumer lives life as an ostrich. I’m glad you are sticking to your guns on this. Sock it to him.

    admin · April 13, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Thanks Scooter. Integrity is everything. I’m the kind of guy that can’t believe the stuff that’s “As seen on TV” doesn’t really cure anything or solve anything. Sometimes I forget, like the time I bought the indestructible wallet (not virtually indestructible) and managed to break it in less than 48 hours without really trying.

    The thing is, I was really hesitant when entering the real estate industry due to the bad reputation that real estate agents have. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by the decent behavior and ethical standards that are used by some individuals. Steve Crossland is one of my Austin real estate heroes as he’s inscrutably ethical.

    When I hear blatant misinformation on the radio though, it makes my blood boil.

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