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FHA calls real estate market’s future “incredible” – overstatement?



Commissioner makes an overstatement?

This week at the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Midyear conference, the FHA Commissioner David Stevens spoke before the audience of Realtors and executives, calling the long term prospects for the real estate market “incredible,” according to NAR. Pointing to young households as a demographic that is growing larger than the baby boomer demographic, Stevens notes that their entry into the market will lead to “an incredible real estate market in the future.”

In the midst of a continuing real estate crash that it appears we are just now hitting the bottom of, is it really time to call the future “incredible” when the Obama administration hasn’t even doled out funds to help the impending doom of another foreclosure wave?

By “incredible,” don’t you really mean “uncertain”?

Stevens calls for FHA reform as a means forward towards this “incredible” market, but it seems the implication that reform is necessary indicates that without reform, trouble could lie ahead, making the future more uncertain than incredible.

Perhaps standing before a crowd of real estate industry professionals seems to be the place for a rally cry, but I see it more as an overstatement to a crowd that already got burned by Lereah and similar cheerleaders. What say you?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Erica Ramus

    May 13, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    “incredible” is one of those words you can take both ways, sort of like “amazing.”

    When someone asks “How is the real estate market?” and you answer “incredible” or “amazing” it can go either way! Let them fill in the blanks.

    I think it’s more a weasel answer than anything.

  2. Steve Nicewarner

    May 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I suspect Stevens was talking about the future 5-10 years out. By then we should have [hopefully] sorted out much of the mess we’re in now, and the demographic trends will have an opportunity to take over.

  3. Fred Romano

    May 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    The real estate market will never be the same as it used to. The shift has begun…

  4. Dave Stevens

    May 13, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I have no need to respond to this type of parsed blog manipulating, but I will. If antigenious would prefer to script a message of pessimism, he/she can feel free to do so, but as one who has spent 3 decades in this industry, I am a firm believer in the fact that markets recover and rally’s re-emerge. We have a great future ahead. It’s my message and I am sticking with it. Being a naysayer I guess is a good place for those who look for reasons to find the negative message for the story. If you had quoted the whole speech, you’d know I also said that we have a long way to go, that the markets are ill, and that work needs to be done. Taking a line at the end of a speech about the future, without presenting the full story of my speech, is just bad journalism.

  5. Rob

    May 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Is what we saw the last couple years considered a rally though and is it something that we really want to see again?

  6. Steve Tutt

    May 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

    My 2 cents on Steven’s BS:

    There are presently 3 primary solutions to stability in the housing industry. Unfortunately only one of them has a proven track record. History has proven the others to be nothing more than a temporary ruse. I’m sure each can figure it out for themselves.

    1) Continue in the direction of the socialistic agenda that is spewing out of the White House like bad breath from a homeless wino. Unfortunately, in a socialist state, those who feel disadvantaged are given ample opportunity to take advantage of the system and drag the rest of us down with them.

    2) Give the court system “police state” power to create cramdown loan modifications to stem the tide of impending foreclosures. Don’t sprain your arms patting yourselves on the back folks. It ain’t nearly over yet.

    3) Let the free enterprise system do it’s thing. It is the most successful economic system in the history of mankind. It is intensely painful to stand by and watch it systematically destroyed by those with small greedy minds.

    Before the relaxation of lending standards required to ensure the success of the idiotic Washington proposed agenda of raising home ownership from the 40 year standard of 65% +/-, to a ridiculously optimistic 85%, the qualifying guideline for mortgages was 3 times the gross household annual income. It worked well, but we all know Washington’s historic tendency to take anything that works well and “fix” it. The only way to get there from here was to relax lending standards. And of course, here we are today.

    Years into this mess our so called leaders have created, afloat in a hurricane tormented sea, hanging on every microscopic positive change in an economic index indicator as if it were a life raft appearing; looking for ways to fix the newest mess created by the sleight of hand big government so called solutions (more properly called smoke and mirrors.) The problem with FHA is it that it made too many sub-prime loans in the last few years as part of this market correction farce. Defaults are cropping up like weeds and FHA is collapsing, hence the hike in up front mortgage insurance premiums and the sure to come increase in monthly MI. Deja Vu all over again.

    The housing market has not yet hit bottom. Skeptical? Take an economic pulse in your own neighborhood folks. Is the average (not median!) house value (not sale price!) equal to 3 times the average (not median!) household income? That’s where we need to be to earn the right to say we have recovered. If not, what are you going to do about it? Create more transactions like an account churning wall street stock broker? I suppose attempting to line your own pockets in an attempt to avoid the equalizing effects of a socialist regime will keep you occupied , like a hamster in a wheel, for a time. What then? Your agenda should be to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that we reach true recovery, not that we line our pockets by creating transactions that will result in more foreclosures so big government can come to the so-called rescue and buy more of America for pennies on the dollar.

    Human greed, that was the root of this problem in the first place. I dare say that human greed is the root of every problem known to mankind, but I digress. The coupling of a democratically ruled republic living within the bounds of a free enterprise economic system has historically been the only long term solution I am aware of. Have a better solution?

    Bring back the Republic! Support free enterprise!

  7. BawldGuy

    May 14, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Mr. Stevens — With respect, on what are you relying, besides 30 years of a wholly different experience than what’s going on now? I’ve been doing this on the home and investment side for over 40 years. Your opinion is as welcome as any, but considering your position, saying something that extreme without giving solid reasoning is approaching the planet, Pollyanna.

  8. Benn Rosales

    May 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    It doesn’t take much to see incredible after the run we’ve had these past several years, but I applaud Lani for continuing to raise the issue that we still need action in the housing market from the administration. Cheers to David for commenting, and the snide remarks aside, I hope that Dave sees that we’re actually on the same side. If you want that incredible market to come then we cannot continue to ignore the elephants in the room- Fannie, Freddie, & Foreclosures oh my…

  9. Erica Ramus

    May 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Seems Lani struck a nerve there! I commend David for commenting. Controversey is not necessarily bad. It gets people thinking and talking and thinking and … at least we’re not sitting with the status quo and lamenting how bad it is out there! Debate away.

    I think the choice of words was pretty strong. Nobody here is plugging the “all bad news all the time” channel. It is up and down, just like any market report.

  10. LAO - Orange County

    May 14, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    “incredible,” don’t u really mean “uncertain”? @agentgenius

  11. Andy Theobald

    May 15, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Did the commission of the FHA really comment on a blog post that criticized his speech to the NAR midyear conference? –

  12. Brian Brady

    May 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I agree with Stevens that the demographics, in favor of a long-term housing increase are “incredible”. Gen Y is a HUGE market and they are perfect home buyers. GenY are “solid citizen” types, more like their grandparents (WW2 generation) than their parents (Baby Boomers). They generally prefer safety over risk taking and see themselves as the optimistic answer to today’s problems. You really can’t find a better bunch of home buyers than that.

    Lani, here is another reason why I’m optimistic on real estate (take this the right way); you, and others aren’t. I’m a contrarian. I watched agents and originators touting real estate while I was cautioning of the skewed price/income ratio (2005-6). Because of that unbridled exuberance, I knew we were in for a decline; I had no idea it would be as severe as it has been.

    Agents and originators are shell-shocked and scared to hang onto anything positive. We could very well be in a short-term pickle, with a possible currency collapse but, long-term, Commissioner Stevens’ comment is on the money.

    Now, if that really was Commissioner Stevens, I’d advise him to craft more measured blog comments (rather than calling this blog “anti-genius”). That sort of comment reveals frustration, not confidence. You’re better than that, David.

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.



strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.



Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!



Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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