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Will they ever learn? Real estate industry trips over its rosy projections

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 13, 2011 10:59 AM

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The home sales industry has untold millions to blow on self promotion.

Yet it's amazing how seeming lacking in savvy the industry's marketing is in some cases, particularly when it comes to market forecasts.

A case in point is the National Home Builders Association annual meeting.

The confab down in sunny Orlando is generating a gusher of stories about the trade group's predictions of a rebound in new home sales and construction this year.

OK, the economy is improving. But a 21 percent jump in new home construction and a 26 percent in sales for 2011? That seems like a stretch, especially given how the trade group's predictions for 2010 fared.

Instead of 610,000 new housing starts, after the numbers are fully counted, we will likely end up with 475,000, a number The Wall Street Journal, to its credit, notes in its story on the builders' convention.

Maybe there is no immediate penalty - at least when it comes to the traditional media - for offering up overly rosy forecasts.

After all, with pages and online screens to fill, the business media can have a short memory.

But the fact is, if the blogosphere is any indication, savvy consumers aren't buying it - and are beyond tired of all the canned happy talk.

Of course, let's not pick on just the home builders here - the Realtors, nationally, are the masters of this line of spin.

Given this is at its heart a consumer business, you would think home sales industry might be just a little bit worried about the growing cynicism its unfailingly sunny messages are generating among some potential customers.

Anyway, here's a radical idea. How about under promising and over delivering?

It's worked for a lot of successful companies. And it can work for the real estate business too.

Finally, stop holding winter conventions in Orlando. Instead head to Chicago, Boston or even Buffalo, where the weather isn't so nice in January and the skies aren't always blue.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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