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NAR is Spinister

Lereah Book Cover

I just finished reading Benn’s post on Does This Yun Make You Look Fat? and started a comment that grew and grew. In Benn’s view the NAR public relations problem is Lawrence Yun the current Chief Economist for NAR. My view is that shooting zombies in the head feels good at the time, but ultimately the zombie causing virus remains out there. (Pro Tip: Never shoot zombies at close range with your mouth open)Listen – Yun is just doing the same job that Lereah was doing before Lereah started getting freaked out by bloggers posting his home address on the Internet and watching his every move. The NAR Chief Economist job description probably reads like “Spin the most Pollyanna slant on the housing market possible without actually bursting into fits of laughter”. Since leaving his position Lereah has pretty much disappeared from public view by going into the x-NAR Chief Economist Protection Program at

Alright friends and fans, buckle up for safety as I make up a word to explain it all in one simple concept…

Spin + Sinister = Spinister

Spinister: A presented research thesis so chock full of knowingly misleading information presented as fact to support a outcome desired by the person or group funding the research. Also it’s probably evil.

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The fact is NAR has been quite purposely spreading propaganda that fueled the housing bubble. As chief NAR economist Lereah published a couple books underscoring that the housing boom 2001-2007 was a historic market expansion and not a bubble of any kind. Think about that for a second. Prices are soaring through the roof and this guy is yelling “THE MARKET WILL NEVER CORRECT, BUY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE AND YOU ARE SHUT OUT FOREVER” at the top of his voice. That’s what was passing as official “objective analysis” for years on end.

You would think that a national agency that is the self proclaimed “voice of real estate” in America would have said something about the ever increasing sub-prime lending problem before it started blowing up like the Death Star. Either they were completely clueless about it going on, or they knew it was bad and decided to not mention it to anyone. Either way… shameful.

You would think that someone at NAR would have thought that the last $40 Million advertising campaign saying the market at the time was a good time to buy AND sell was contradictory bullshit that could damage their reputation. But no.

While local realtor associations actually perform meaningful work benefiting the consumer through managing the Multiple Listing Systems and electronic lock boxes etc, the National Association of Realtors acts like nothing more than a special interest group for lobbying government and spinning the public perception of the real estate market. Anyone that views anything NAR says about real estate with an eye any less critical than they view a Big Tobacco funded report on the effects of smoking is an idiot.

So my long winded comment to Benn is this…

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NAR simply will not fire Yun as they believe he is doing the job they are asking him to do. Plus they truly believe they are doing the job that REALTORS are asking them to do – paint a picture of a rosy real estate market so REALTORS can turn commissions more easily. Frankly I’m not sure if I feel comforted or disturbed that they also drink the Kool-Aid they are handing out

I think NAR’s market cheer leading has played a minor part in the creation of the real estate bubble and the fallout from it. There are real consequences to this. People are losing jobs, homes and their entire net worth.

That’s pretty spinister.

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  1. Matthew Rathbun

    January 30, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Athol, this is a great post and I feel pretty much the same. NAR is a huge rolling rock, and stopping it to correct it’s path seems almost overwhelming. It’ll take a new generation of leadership to get in place and change it. I think that’s why local and State associations do better. The leadership for local and state associations have a different mindset than those that are elected at the National level. Typically they’ve been in the “system” of NAR for so long that they tend to lean to the good old days where what the said was law, as there wasn’t the level of information the internet has allowed.

  2. Shailesh Ghimire

    January 30, 2008 at 3:55 pm


    You make some very good points. I don’t know the details of the book you mention but I do recall the “irrational exuberance” the NAR was peddling back in the day. I think everyone looked the other way and just kept stashing the cash.

    A little bit of common sense would have helped. But even now when they don’t come clean and continue to play games that’s where things get ugly. Big Tobacco at least pays for smoker education these days to attone for its sins. I don’t know that the NAR has any plans for a similar approach.

  3. Athol Kay

    January 30, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    It just seems like realtors have this concern that bad real estate news reported in the media will have the effect of pushing real estate prices down further. Why they don’t see that overly optimistic real estate news reported in the media would have the effect of driving prices up I don’t fully understand.

  4. luxury artist

    July 1, 2008 at 7:21 am

    “Frankly I’m not sure if I feel comforted or disturbed that they also drink the Kool-Aid they are handing out”
    Yeap, they do 🙂

  5. Hunter Jackson

    July 2, 2008 at 8:56 am

    People need to realize that nar is that, sinister and a spinster. Go figure, that is where the money goes. Yun may be an idiot, however, is he doing the job he is paid for? Can he be fired without recourse if that came to it.

  6. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 2, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Consumers look for REALTORs to provide correct guidance regarding the industry. If the “official” spokesman for the organization (whomever it may be), is continuously being nothing more than a cheerleader saying “GOOOOOOO TEAM!”, then consumers will look elsewhere for a real perspective of whats actually happening.

  7. Robin

    July 2, 2008 at 9:47 am

    “NAR simply will not fire Yun as they believe he is doing the job they are asking him to do”

    Reminds me of that guy Baghdad Bob who said Saddam was winning while F-15’s flew over head.

  8. Bob

    July 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Yun is supposed to be chief economist, not head cheerleader. He doesn’t need to be fired as much as he needs a job description that fits the title.

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