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Opinion Editorials

What Say You? Is this Good Advertising?



This morning I was reading some of my favorite blogs. (Not real estate related.) I glanced over on the side column and what did my eyes see?

An ad by NAR.

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It was a rotating ad, and this came up next…

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I don’t know if it is being advertised by NAR anywhere else because I was on and it led me to a story here.

When you click it takes you to the data that NAR compiled in a survey of 50,000 NAR members of which 4% or 2035 members responded. The survey was conducted between Aug 5th and Aug 14, 2009.

From my chatter around the water cooler, I know most agents are in favor of the extension.  We received a letter this week from NAR asking us to contact our Senators and Congressmen to ask them to extend the First Time Home-buyer Credit. I did not because I am not in favor of anything that is causing more debt for my children and grandchildren. I did not because the Cash for Clunkers worked for a month and now the automotive dealers are dead.

On Monday I did a status update on Facebook and asked if Realtors were going to be contacting their Senators and Congressmen to ask them to extend the credit.  27 folks commented their thoughts.

My question here is to get the opinion from you on this: is this ad an appropriate use for our NAR dues?

I suspect some of my more liberal blogging friends would not like to see this ad on Fox News. I am not sure I would like to see it anywhere.

What say you?

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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  1. Fred Romano

    October 8, 2009 at 9:28 am

    What not keep spending till every last one of us is bankrupt! Too bad the government cant just wash the slate clean for all of us and themselves. A “Do Over” for everyone is what we need.

  2. Erion Shehaj

    October 8, 2009 at 11:48 am

    There’s no doubt that there are political implications to the extension of the tax credit — As there are with anything that involves the expenditure of tax dollars. And based on your political inclination, you may view that as a great or terrible idea. But from the perspective of a trade organization like NAR, their very purpose for existence is to make the landscape favorable for their members. And as far as that goes, the ad in question is appropriate because I don’t think anyone could argue against the fact that the members in this trade organization would be better off with an extended credit.

  3. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Erion, I agree it is probably best for MY income. But…you knew there would be a but.
    When does putting the future of our children and grandchildren come first. The money is not FREE, we are paying for it.

    Is it right for my and Realtors own job’s to borrow against our childrens future ?

    I do we as a nation continue to borrow our way out of debt. I heard the debt today was 3.something trillion. I can’t even conceive of that…and most of the stimulus money is not spent, nor Cap and Tax nor anything for Health Care Reform.

  4. Erion Shehaj

    October 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    My question here is to get the opinion from you on this: is this ad an appropriate use for our NAR dues?

    My comment was in reference to your question above. If the question is: “Should tax dollars be spent for homebuying credit?” that’s an entirely different question. If it is true that the tax credit has accounted for most of whatever little wind has been blown in the sales of the housing market this year, eliminating it this early into “recovery” would be a mistake. I’m not too thrilled at the prospect of spending even more money to basically place a stool under a somewhat crippled market, but in much similar fashion to Afghanistan, the alternative would be much worse and the effects wouldn’t be limited to housing market either.

    In all fairness, I didn’t hear the same kinds of concern over national deficits when we went from a surplus to a 1 trillion dollar deficit in 8 years, over tax cuts. The definition of “fiscally responsible” should not change based on who’s occupying the White House.

    Just sayin’…

  5. Erion Shehaj

    October 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I believe the verbatim phrase from Dick Cheney was: “Reagan proved than deficits don’t matter” …

  6. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I want a utility credit for power and water, a cable credit so I can watch The Pres on the tube, a grocery credit so I can help the traditional grocery stores fend off those capitalist pigs at Wal Mart so they cant continue to show the world how to make a profit, and a gasoline credit to be used to show homes to buyers with the tax credits.

    No more tax credit.

  7. Bob

    October 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    To answer the question about the ad, I think Erion nailed it:

    “But from the perspective of a trade organization like NAR, their very purpose for existence is to make the landscape favorable for their members. And as far as that goes, the ad in question is appropriate because I don’t think anyone could argue against the fact that the members in this trade organization would be better off with an extended credit.”

    Do I like the tax credit? No. But NAR is actually acting like a trade org here.

  8. Portland Real Estate

    October 8, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Probably not worth our money. NAR seems to be a little mis managed these days.


  9. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Bob, appreciate your thoughts. Just seemed weird to see an Ad on Fox News from NAR. Would be interesting to see how many responded.

    Also would be good to see how many first time home buyers bought because of the credit that would NOT have bought otherwise. Since the first time home buyer always dominates the market.

  10. Joe Spake

    October 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Good points about NAR acting as a trade organization – as they were with the “Now is a Great Time to Buy campaign” running as the world watched the US real estate market tank. NAR has acted as a trade organization with other such ads over the last few years, with Mr. Yun’s sunny forecasts, and now the current push for extension of the tax credit.
    NAR’s advocating for Realtors has strengthened the public’s perception that we are willing to bend the truth a little, or do most anything else to make a sale. IMO, a trade organization’s first priority should be upholding the standards of membership and honestly enhancing the public’s perception of the members, not spin doctoring.
    I, too, would love to see the numbers on how much the tax credit has stimulated the market. I really think my clients who took advantage of it would have bought anyway.
    For the record, I don’t appreciate my dues $ being spent on the ad [I didn’t support the Rose Bowl Parade float, either], and I do not support an extension.

  11. SteveBeam

    October 9, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I’m not for the tax credit or the ad. I too have seen NAR ads in crazy places. I think they feel like the government. Throw money at it and it will get better. I guess at least they are trying but not good enough in my opinion. i certainly don’t feel like I receive much for my dues.

  12. Ken Brand

    October 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I’m ok with AD. At least it’s a Call To Action, tied to urgency.

    I’m not ok with the general, “Now’s a great time to buy, for no particular reason.”

  13. Susie Blackmon

    October 9, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I’m not for the extension of the tax credit, or the ad.

  14. Paula Henry

    October 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I can certainly see the call of urgency if a first time home buyer is “on the fence”, but, I for one, do not want to see the first time tax credit extended. Still, I don’t like the ads; they speak of desperation.

    If it really takes a credit for a home buyer to buy, where will it stop. When will we know the market has normalized. We can not continue to throw money at the problem. When the money runs out and it will, then what?

  15. Missy Caulk

    October 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    We have just had so many first time home buyers who were HAPPY to get the credit but not buying TO GET the credit…maybe it is just Ann Arbor. We get tons of Residents and grad students who move in.

    Paula, I just can’t imagine a consumer clicking on that ad. Weird to me.

  16. Mike Pennington

    October 10, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Missy: Just read your last comment. I agree. Maybe though we need a tax credit for any buyer. Or maybe one big credit for those who sell and buy a more expensive home.

    In my area, there is low inventory of affordable homes. There is way to much inventory for the expensive stuff.

  17. Bob in San Diego

    October 12, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Is it good advertising? Who were they advertising too? It reminds me of the Drug company ads for some drug you have never heard about.

  18. Jay Myers

    October 12, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Let’s not forget the Tax Credit was put into place to stimulate banks just as much as to stimulate buyers to get out into the market.

    I have not signed NAR’s petition to “extend or Expand” the tax credit because of how it is written. I am in favor of an extension, but only till Spring of 2010. We need to keep lenders lending, since this will most likely be a slow year for retailers. keeping money changing hands is a good thing for the American economy, and if a short extension can do that I am in favor.

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Opinion Editorials

Freelance is the Future? I call bull malarky

(EDITORIAL) Some have predicted that due to company needs and employees’ desire for flexibility, and even COVID, freelance is the future of work. But I have reservations.



Freelance desk

Long gone are the days of punching a clock in Corporate America to be in your seat at your desk for an exact period of 8 hours on a day x 5 = 40 hours per week. If you work in an office setting now, usually you are expected to manage your time and finish your projects but companies have adjusted their strict butt in seat polices so that you can come in late after a doctor appointment or even leave a little early for Susie’s soccer tournament.

The truth is, with the advancement of technology and connected devices, many of us can work from anywhere (as long as there’s Wi-Fi or we have our hotspot). So, as long as your work gets done, there’s a little bit of room for “flexibility”.

When a company pitches this as flexibility, it’s really just a way of re-wording that you will work a lot so they will cut you some slack here and there considering most of us work well over our 40 hours a week. We can check email first thing in the morning, forward documents from the plane and even be on conference calls while in a line or in an Uber. You may work late on a Tuesday due to Wednesday deliverables which allows you to take off on Friday at 3pm when usually your projects are in a good place. There are also times where you will work on the weekend.

The opportunity to work anywhere has led to some considering that freelance is the future? I just don’t buy it. And this might be an unpopular opinion. I think that’s like turning the Titanic around. People rely on companies to offer a feeling of stability (or so we think) so that you know there’s a paycheck coming in every other week and you definitely have your fair share of projects (oh yeah, plus healthcare benefits).

If we all moved in to freelancing, we’d have a wide variety of clients, customers, teammates and paychecks that could be difficult to keep up with. We’d be forced to be the CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CMOs, CFOs, oh, forget it, the entire C-suite of our own careers. It’s really difficult to generate new clients in the future while you’re working on a current project.

However, it’s equally difficult to have a lull so you have to be constantly engaged and pitching business (at the same time you have your current work). You have to be on your A-game at all times and out pitching yourself and your brand. You have to be creating content on all the social channels and be invited to participate in fancy conferences and meetings. This unfortunately is the life of freelance.

Does it seem like more people will do freelance? Yes. There’s lots of opportunity now thanks to the world wide web. But I predict they will do this in addition to their regular jobs. Is it possible that we may move to a gig economy? We are already there. You’ve heard of Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Fiverr and Upwork…It seems like that most people that have 2-3 gigs to make them whole are typically looking for full-time opportunities or would love to find something that can replace the others with more consistent work and not all the hustle. Are Small Businesses on the rise? Absolutely.

It seems that it depends on your desire for either slightly more predictable work and paychecks or if you’re a throw caution to the wind person and live that freelancer life. Also, if your skill sets are the ones employers are looking for on an ad hoc basis. No doubt many people live a freelancer life and love it. But I just don’t see it being the masses – I think it takes a special kind of dedication to rely on freelance and/or starting your own business. Plus, you’re off your parents’ healthcare at age 26. That’s when real the “real job” starts to sound really appealing.

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.




Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.



Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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