Good news / bad news?
Looks like the Feast of St. Joseph passed yesterday without any coverage on @WSJrealestate, @Realtors, or @InmanNews, the leading real estate technology site. Would you believe an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled When It Takes a Miracle to Sell Your House was the most emailed story of the day five years ago? What's happened -- have people lost their faith? Are rabbits feet next?
If you purchased one of the 2 million St. Joseph statues alledgedly sold each year (unconfirmed source) and your house did not sell, The Real Estate Cafe has some BuyBack offers. Read on, particularly if you own one of the 20,000+ Expired & CANceled MLS listings during 4Q2011 across Massachusetts.
In 1998, Inman News wrote a story about one of the first real estate web sites to sell St. Joseph statues online. When we searched their archive for "St. Joseph statues," we did NOT see our response below; but you can clearly see that their headline called the practice of burying St. Joseph statues upside down a "trick" (that's an understatement IMHO, no pun intended):
Beyond Superstition: Doing Justice to the "Just Man"
In the past, articles like Inman News’s "Faith can move real estate: St. Joseph’s statue trick gets Web site" would have hit my sacrilege hot button sending me into a fit of holy anger. Now, I see the playful human interest story as a timely opportunity to invite believers and non-believers to draw inspiration from this guardian of the Son of God during this, and important transition time in the local, national, and international housing market.
Whether Inman News published our op-ed or not, they did not to write us off as religious zealots. Instead, about a decade later they wrote about our interactive, interfaith campaign: "'St. Joe 2.0' samples the many forms of faith." Regrettably, that experiment in collaborative mapping ended when Platial pulled the plug.
Expanding spiritual perspectives to include social justice, we could not resist the urge yesterday to echo, at least indirectly, the "Mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore" sentiment Brad Inman described in his Welcome Keynote at ConnectNY 2012. Combine that with a leading real estate educator / author warning that Eroding Equity the Coffin Nail for Percentage Commissions, and that's a serious threat to business as usual!
Repositioning St. Joseph
When one in three households are upside down on their mortgage, is it a sin to "reposition" St. Joseph as the Patron Saint of Consumer Advocates and invoke his intercession to topple the obsolete, two-sided real estate commission that overcharges consumers billions of dollars annually?
Of course, The Real Estate Cafe can't bring about that revolutionary change single-handedly, but we've been waiting for the real estate industry and consumers to reach a tipping point since April 2006. Some have predicted that 2012 will be the Year of Customer Activism - Can social media harness enough holy anger from distressed sellers to expand money-saving alternatives to the traditional, one-size fits all real estate commission? Read what IAREC.com says:
“Our 100 year old business model is on life support… Absent new approaches, we’re already out of business, we just don’t know it yet!” (watch 2 minute video)
Got expired or canceled listing? Explore your "trade-in" options
We began to offer a St. Joseph Statue BuyBack Program five years ago; then, there were 16,000 expired & canceled listings across MA. Last year, there were 20,000+ during 4Q2011. That represents an estimated $250M in lost real estate commissions or a quarter of a billion dollars in potential consumer savings from one quarter, in one state alone!
Delivering those savings would be the answer to prayer for this consumer advocate and the DIY clients we serve. What's your take? Are people losing faith in burying St. Joseph? Should they bury Tim Tebow statues instead? Or like the Denver Broncos, should they explore trading options? Click on the link below to learn more about what we've offered in the past, and call 617-661-4046 to discuss what we're considering this year!
PS. Why do we keep writing about St. Jospeh statues? Read what one publicity hound wrote:
"No other column I have ever written in my 22 years as a newspaper editor and reporter resulted in as many responses..."
Readers of this blog may recognize that the lead story today in today's Boston Globe -- Home of the housing bust: Central Mass. towns reel; no recovery in sight -- reflects ongoing research The Real Estate Cafe has been doing regarding expired and canceled listings across Massachusetts. During 4Q2011, there were more than 20,000 expired and canceled real estate listings statewide. Those failed MLS listings represent an estimated $250 million dollars in lost commissions to real estate agents -- that's right, a quarter of a billion dollars in one state, during one quarter alone!!!
From our perspective as consumer advocates, a portion of those lost fees could be converted into consumers savings for both DIY home buyers and sellers.
As housing advocates and others have preached, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Our goal is to help turn those 20,000+ failed listings into a win-win-win opportunity, for sellers, home buyers, and local communities like those described in the Globe article. We're eager to find out if any of the high-credibility sources in the article -- Tim Davis, Barry Bluestone or any of affordable housing advocates -- are involved in any ongoing responses to the problem or organizing anything new, and how we might collaborate with them.
- OUR GUESS is that real estate investors will be the first respond to the "give away" housing prices that some Boston Globe readers say exaggerate the magnitude of the problem.
- OUR BELIEF is that the conventional real estate industry is not offering enough options to homeowners, particularly those who may be forced to try selling "for sale by owner" because they cannot afford traditional full-service, full-fee listing agents (watch this 3 minute video).
- OUR HOPE is to collaborate with others, including investors, who are already organizing or would like to explore alternative solutions that drive sales to achieve housing goals or some other social good.
At this point, we're sharing our proposal privately with real estate and technology innovators who are ready to "think outside the box." If you're one of them, or if you own an expired or canceled listing anywhere in Massachusetts, or if you're a DIY home buyer or renter interested in a win-win-win opportunity, we'd like to hear from you. In the meantime, we invite you to share this blog post or our Twitter post above with your social network and download our "Insider's Guide to Approaching Owners of Expired & Canceled Listings."
PS. Earlier today, we were surprised to find that the Globe headline story was NOT one of the most frequently shared by email. Our initial thought was maybe the housing bubble is old news. Five hours later, the story had been shared on various forms of social media over 400 times and generated over 200 comments. That confirming that the crisis represents an opportunity to win-win-win solutions. Want to join us in that quest?
Keeping an eye on the real estate market in Massachusetts? The Real Estate Cafe
would like to know what you think housing prices will look like in Greater Boston, as well as LOCAL cities and towns across the state, in 2012 and beyond. Click here to take survey
, and share this survey with other home buyers!
When I saw a headline this morning reading, Occupy protesters turn to foreclosures, it reminded me of repossession riots predicted in “Countdown to a Meltdown: America’s coming economic crisis," a fictionalized look back at the presidential election of 2016 -- not 2012 -- published in Atlantic Magazine more than six years ago!
Questions raced through my head:
Are #OccupyHomes protests a step towards repossession riots?
Are these isolated interventions or really the beginng of a nationwide movement?
Is it frightening or appropriate that these actions are taking place an election cycle earlier than predicted in James Fallows’ prophetic perspective in Atlantic Magazine in July 2005?
To begin to answer those questions, I took a step back to read some of the press coverage unfolding across the internet — more than 750 news stories yesterday accoding to Google News. After describing several interventions that, at least on the surface, seemed to be just, one article reached a decidedly upbeat assessment:
“Occupy Our Homes seems like an immensely promising direction for the movement, harnessing its DIY energy to the needs of real people.”
Curiously, or perhaps appropriately, not a single word was said about the occupy housing movement at a quarterly meeting of the Foreclosed Properties Task Force yesterday in Massachusetts hosted by CHAPA —Citizen’s Planning and Housing Association. The meeting included housing professionals from community organizations around the state, representatives from federal, state, and local governments, and quasi-public organizations including Fannie Mae. Their comprehensive agenda included updates on (1) foreclosure prevention, (2) loan modification programs, (3) neighborhood stabilization programs, (4) court decisions involving foreclosures, (5) conversions of foreclosed properties into affordable housing, both rental and ownership, and (5) the Mass Attorney General’s suit against loan servicers. While the meeting got no press coverage, it's important to look at the extensive coverage given #OccupyHomes -- particularly simplistic videos -- in this broader, solution-oriented context.
Yes, a stunning 10 million plus properties are vacant nationwide and some policy initiatives and regulatory actions by government and banks have been misguided, weak, ineffective, or are overdue. So press coverage like 60 Minutes hard hitting story on Prosecuting Wall Street this weekend are a godsend. As a progressive buyer agency with a long history of consumer advocacy, the Real Estate Cafe shares the goal of organizing victims of foreclosure. But Occupy activists would be wise to think twice before involving foreclosure victims in illegal occupations, like squatting in vacant homes, thereby undermining the housing justice they seek. If they become aware of (or even coordinate actions with?) the extensive foreclosure prevention counseling infrastructure and billions of dollars being mobilized to help households facing foreclosure, their interventions are more likely to be welcomed. That seems to be the case in Brooklyn:
“When we first got to know her, she was just at the end of her rope,” says Sean Barry, Vocal-NY’s director. “She had no idea what she was going to do. She felt like she had no options. To then see her today, when she just feels so emboldened, is deeply inspiring.” It’s not clear, of course, how long she’ll be able to stay in the new house, but Barry hopes the police will leave her alone. “I don’t think the police are going to be in any mood to mount a raid of this homeless family that the neighbors and elected officials are welcoming with open arms,” he says. If this urban homesteading operation is successful, more are almost certain to follow, giving occupation a whole new meaning.
As Occupy protestors and housing professionals agree, some homeowners have been victims of insufficient, irregular or even illegal actions. If you think that’s your case, you may be eligible for a FREE foreclosure review, so visit http://IndependentForeclosureReview.com
If you are unemployed and underemployed, an array of government programs already exists and are being expanded to put off mortgage payments for up to 12 months. For more information, click on the button below and we'll email you one of the handouts from the CHAPA meeting yesterday.
PS. If you feel like you're falling through the financial safety net, would a psychological and spiritual safety net help you through the holidays? Contact us if you'd like to join or organize a local prayer / support group for households facing foreclosure.
Photo credit: Elaine Thompson, AP in article entitled New Occupy tactic on West Coast: squatting, published in The Columbian.