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April 6, 2008

Realtor Rah-rah?

The goal of Binyamin Appelbaum's "Perspective" (March 16) seems to be to incite realtors. The statement "Real estate agents in recent years helped many people buy homes they could not afford" borders on slander. We have never been responsible for determining the financial capability of buyers. Irresponsible mortgage lenders are the appropriate target here.

L. Klee
Newburyport

I will give Appelbaum this: If someone were to contemplate buying now with the intent of selling after a short period and raking in the profits, that would not be the smart thing to do. However, anyone looking to purchase a home for a growing family and stay in that home for a significant period of time would do well to consider this the best time to buy.

Glenn Barker
Lunenburg

That was a great piece on realtor optimism! How right Appelbaum is. Realtors and car salesmen will never say business is bad. If these people said, well, the market can definitely go lower but if you're in the house for five years or more, you'll be fine - they might have more credibility. But it's always the same line: Today's the day!

MIichael Cercone
Marblehead

With some economists forecasting home prices declining through this year, Appelbaum argues, consumers are best to wait before purchasing a home. For some, that's just not practical; for most, it's simply not prudent. History demonstrates that home ownership is one of the best means of accumulating wealth. The problem with Appelbaum's wait-and-see approach is that it's impossible to time the bottom of the market, because you don't know you've reached it until it's passed. In many local towns, home prices have already stabilized, and by year's end, mortgage interest rates could be higher, likely negating any benefit of waiting to buy.

David Friedberg
President, Greater Boston Association of Realtors
Boston

Seen on the Web

From John A Keith's "Boston Real Estate Blog"

The problem with the reporter's comments is that they seem a bit naive. . . . I have never had a conversation with a buyer about whether or not this is a good time for him or her to buy a home. How would I know? Unless it's someone in my own family, I have no idea what's in my clients' past or in their futures. I don't know my clients' financial situation well enough, I don't know their tolerance for risk, I don't know their psyche.

Appelbaum has written an ill-informed, myopic opinion piece. In addition to being a real estate agent, I am a musician who travels often. When people in different areas ask me, with a look of concerned sympathy, how the market is here, I must seem like such a Pollyanna when I inform them that, while the market is certainly not the same as the gangbusters 2002-05, I nevertheless had an extremely busy 2007. In the same issue of the Globe Magazine, there is an article on 25 ZIP codes that saw up to 60 percent increases in home prices over the past few years. All real estate is local, and in such areas as those spotlighted in your ZIP code article, the market ain't so bad.

Bill Janovitz
Lexington

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors agrees with Wells Fargo Bank that the average home price in Salt Lake County will fall 9 percent this year, even though we have one of the best economies in the nation. So, not all realtors offer a sunny forecast. However, I agree that most do.

Dave Anderton
Public Relations Director, Salt Lake Board of Realtors
Sandy, Utah

Housing inventory is plentiful, more affordable than in recent times, and interest rates continue to remain near historic lows. If potential buyers get scared off because of opinions expressed in a major newspaper regardless of the facts, there's a problem. The housing market is a key driver of the economy. Given our current economic state, it's prudent for consumers to continue to believe in homeownership as a valuable means of shelter and a great long-term investment.

Susan M. Renfrew
President, Massachusetts Association of Realtors Broker/co-owner, Renfrew Real Estate
Greenfield

Seen on the Web

From John A Keith's "Boston Real Estate Blog"

The problem with the reporter's comments is that they seem a bit naive. . . . I have never had a conversation with a buyer about whether or not this is a good time for him or her to buy a home. How would I know? Unless it's someone in my own family, I have no idea what's in my clients' past or in their futures. I don't know my clients' financial situation well enough, I don't know their tolerance for risk, I don't know their psyche.

Summer Dreams

I enjoyed Kris Frieswick's article on buying a Cape vacation home ("The Cape Is Calling," March 16). My wife and I had a home in Chatham from 2001 to 2006, and everything Frieswick wrote seems to make sense. However, she failed to mention the cost of home insurance on the Cape, which is nothing but a license to steal by the insurance companies, and the traffic during the summer, which is almost impossible to deal with.

David W. Fitzgerald
Plymouth

Seen on the Web

From Redfin.com's "Boston Sweet Digs" blog regarding "The Best ZIP Codes" (March 16):

If you look closely at the list, you will see that every Boston neighborhood made it onto the list, including East Boston, Roxbury, Mission Hill, Dorchester, Charlestown, Jamaica Plain, and Somerville. . . . So is this really news? . . . The Globe probably should have chosen a few other parameters to make their list more meaningful, or they could have saved themselves some newsprint by simply stating this: The city of Boston is a great place to live.

From Greg Kiely's "Brookline Real Estate Blog":

This piece ties in very well to a similar article written in The Wall Street Journal . . . which stated that so much of the housing market today changes from ZIP code to ZIP code (neighborhood to neighborhood). It is critical to evaluate what aspects of each community would help secure the long-term prospects of the money you need to buy into them and make your buying decisions from there.

That Old Feeling

Beards are fine for guys who want to look 10 to 15 years older than they really are ("Pierced," March 16). Shave it, Charlie Pierce, and you'll see what I mean.

Tom Peterson
Harwich Port

writing to the magazine

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Write to magazine@globe.com or

The Boston Globe Magazine
PO Box 2378
Boston, MA 02107-2378

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