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The Bailout-Looking Ahead: Real Estate Leaders Voice Their Opinions

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RISMEDIA, Oct. 31, 2008-The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, also known as ‘the bailout bill’ that has been dominating headlines in recent weeks, has real estate leaders talking about its impact on the industry, real estate markets around the country and the overall effect on consumer confidence when it comes to buying and selling.

RISMedia recently interviewed several industry experts on the subject and is presenting their comments in a regularly occurring series called, “The Bailout-Looking Ahead.” Here, Martha Hayhurst, President & CEO of Harry Norman Realtors in Atlanta, Georgia, offers her thoughts about the bailout, what it means to consumers and the government’s new role in real estate.

RISMedia: What are your overall thoughts on the bailout:
Martha Hayhurst:
I think that once the rescue plan actually gets into the marketplace, it will be an asset. But it will take a few months.

RISMedia: What do you think it will take to get consumers back to buying and selling:
MH:
We need to free up credit and cash. It starts there. Once we get to that point, we’ll be at our greatest advantage and can start trying to encourage consumer confidence.

The bailout will help restore confidence in the market, but there are some caveats. We still have an election and a financial crisis on a global scale, for starters. In 2006, the start of the real estate downturn dominated. We’ve now moved from it just being a real estate crisis, to it being a global financial crisis. When you add that to an already-shaken consumer, the result is all the people sitting on the sidelines.

The resiliency of American people is strong. They are just waiting for one green light and they’ll start buying homes again.

RISMedia: Are you seeing any positive signs in your local market?
MH:
Yes, we are seeing some good indicators here in Atlanta. According to the Greater Atlanta MLS, our sold-to-list price for the month of September, for example, was at 95 percent and our days on market was only up three days from the same time last year-from 86 days to 89 days. Those are strong indicators for us.

When we don’t see so many foreclosures, that’s when market will turn. Amidst all of the turmoil, the American people will start getting positive when they see major institutions helping.

Real estate leads us into these situations and leads us out. I think as good stewards of our industry it’s our job to get people back to work.

RISMedia: What do you think of the government’s new rights (within the bailout bill) to purchase foreclosed homes and refinance them at their current value so that homeowners can stay in the home:
MH:
It’s hard to say if the bailout’s terms on foreclosures are good or bad. I do know, however, that keeping people in their homes is paramount. People will do whatever they can to stay in their homes. Only the future will tell us if this was a good thing. But, if I was being foreclosed on, I would think it’s a very good thing. There are very few things more catastrophic than losing your home. Right now, the bailout was necessary and had to be done.

What I hope we can do is learn from this so that future generations never have to go through this again.

The bailout is the subject of our November cover story in Real Estate magazine. Read additional quotes from industry leaders, news and analysis on this issue here: http://remag.rismedia.com/.

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