Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

This week, we are having what I like to call a “Hesitation Moment.” In different data released this week, the housing market went back in time, with numbers being reported similar to those we saw in the 40s, 60s and 80s. Mortgage applications fell to the lowest level in 13 years and in January, sales of new single-family homes plunged to the lowest level since the Commerce Department began tracking them (1963). In 2009, bankers posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942. While these blasts from the past may seem upsetting, we shouldn’t get caught up in the bad news of the moment and rather look at the industry as a whole. When we do this, I think we can all see things are improving.

One of the main problems we are facing in the industry is a lack of optimism. One of the main worries is the eminent withdrawal of the government from the housing industry in the coming months. Many shudder to think of what the future of the industry will be without President Obama’s helping hand, like the plan announced last week to infuse $1.5 billion into the hardest hit housing markets. We have discussed this in great depth, but only because it is one of the most important issues on our industry today. Let us know your thoughts on the looming departure of the government from our industry.

The group that seems to be the positive bunch lately is home builders. The disconnect between home builders and the housing market is not surprising, as we have seen similar divides in years past, as many of you know. There is some data that may help you be optimistic as well: although home prices are still falling, it is at a slower rate than when compared to a year earlier. The numbers prove that, according to The Wall Street Journal, “the floor beneath home prices might be wobbly, but it is unlikely to collapse.” Other encouraging data shows that fewer homeowners are falling behind on their home loans and nationwide housing affordability closed out 2009 at its highest level in 18 years. Although it was not written about in this exact way, other good news was reported on in The Wall Street Journal that bargain hunters are having a hard time finding foreclosures in desirable neighborhoods. For me, I take the glass half full view of the slowing of some foreclosures.

A lot of people are making the best of their situation: There is an increase of people moving in their families, creating a demand for multi-generational housing. With the extra hands around, it is not surprising that 13 percent more homeowners will remodel in the next 12 months, a recent survey showed. And these homeowners are doing everything from upgrading to greener features to painting their living rooms.

Moving away from the real estate industry… It turns out that direct email marketing works. Here are eight reasons why and a simple way from BlueSkyFactory.com to make them more effective: a great subject line. What is the most creative subject line you have ever used?

It remains to be seen how Twitter will integrate an advertising platform, but let’s keep our fingers crossed that it will be hyper-local, which would offer many benefits for our industry. If this option comes available, do you think you would use it?

Two mega brands reinforced key pillars of our industry this week. Pepsi discussed the importance of brands talking with consumers, not talking at them. The two-way dialogue should guide all of our social media initiatives, its SVP and chief consumer engagement officer said. If you are not already doing this, you should follow suit. Additionally, high rankings in trust and recommendations named Amazon the top performing brand in the country. As real estate agents, we should strive to build this same kind of trust and offer meaningful recommendations every day. Do it the Amazon way!

Two last items of interest… Mashable provided tips on creating a Facebook landing page for your business. Check it out! And, for those of you who are not iPhone users, there is a new Google Earth for Android App, which allows users to view complex scenes of 3D imagery, terrain, roads, and other layers. Have fun exploring!

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