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Economic News

The Good and the Ugly – What Matters?



Do You Care? – Why?

I love my twitter stream – I do… However there are times when I get overloaded with all the negativity. I don’t mean people being…well, people – I mean the constant news updates, the projections and speculations. There seems to be a great deal of energy and effort being used to see what other agents are doing (good and bad), what the lenders are doing, what the elected officials are doing and frankly I hear little about what that agent is doing. Its important to know what is occurring in the industry, but at some level I think that folks are becoming engulfed in the depressing downward spiral.

Lots of agents, who I speak to, say that they tried reading blogs, but that they found it very negative and reflective of mainstream media. Whereas I don’t necessarily agree – I see where they are coming from.   I see a lot of “noise” mostly from non-mainstream writers and the dabblers who started a free ActiveRain blog or blog. These blog sites are great tools, but I find a number of these authors are venting and not really benefiting me as a reader.  I am using blogs as an example, but newsletters, magazines and other related materials are little different.

So, what do YOU think is important to your business? What and how do YOU use the current economy and related information to strengthen your business?

Photo Credit

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is

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  1. Benn Rosales

    December 5, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Matt, you know my story from when I began, but others don’t so I’ll tell it real quickly: My first read of a blog post from a popular blogger I actually told my wife no thank you, I don’t want that political sh*t near my business- just a few weeks later, I was back at that same blog understanding what disruption was via a rant about redfin/CBS. I wrote my very first blog post that day- it was inspiring to say the least.

    But here we are, 1.5 years later- I no longer read the controversial blogger, instead, I’ve spent personal time finding writers I identify with (very few), motivate me (again, very few), and inspire me (very very very few) and I love it. I found a value in it that suits me like a suit- I was never interested in the controversy, I was interested in learning, and here we are- I learn something virtually every day- but that doesn’t mean that from time to time a discussion that makes me feel uneasy doesn’t happen. Becoming uncomfortable is healthy, it allows you to define yourself- on the other hand, writing bitter crap for the sake of writing bitter crap for the most part, goes unread by all (except for those that identify, get inspired, and motivated by it).

  2. Debra Sinick

    December 5, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    I liked your answer, Benn to this post. Things aren’t good, we all know that. Mainstream media has always focused on the negative, but if we just listen to the negative news, we might as well just curl up into a little ball.

    The flip side of all this bad news is it’s an opportunity for individual agents and the real estate industry to learn and retool. Those of us who want to learn will continue to do so. Our industry needs to focus on the value we bring to the public, improving and learning as we go. Blogging is one more tool, one more opportunity to learn, increasing our knowledge and abilities, and what we bring to the table for the consumer.

  3. linsey

    December 6, 2008 at 12:13 am

    I recently went through my relatively young blog to get a sense of my overall voice and found that much of the time, I will take an article and study the numbers that are being brought to the attention of readers to ferret out the meaning. I’m amazed at how often media focus, or consumer perception, is not in line with the realities found in the marketplace when one really analyzes the numbers.

    Ben, unfortunately, I seem to come across blogs that have a surprisingly strong readership simply because of the ‘bitter crap’ that they contain. One blog recently made the cover of the Orange County Register. Although there are some valid points on that blog, a good amount of it is spent bashing Realtors, lenders, ‘foolish consumers’ without offering fresh or meaningful insights.

    Unfortunately, the demand is there for that content as evidenced by some of the poor mainstream news media; they provide the things that create ratings.

    Thankfully, not everyone is caught up in that leaving an audience for the rest of us.

  4. Susie Blackmon

    December 6, 2008 at 1:27 am

    I’m trying to write more localism posts as I am not too interested in writing about RE right now! Photographs, etc. My time on line is more spent on reading input from pros re where the RE bis is headed. I believe things will be VERY different and I want to be involved!

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?



NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<


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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.



young executives

job openings

Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.


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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.



gas tax


Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.


Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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