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Perspective by Walt Baczkowski

RISMEDIA, September 3, 2008-This has undoubtedly been the strangest, most challenging real estate market ever experienced. In conversations with brokers, agents and prospective purchasers, the concerns can be distilled down to three questions: what do we know; what do we fear; and what do we sense? This may be an oversimplification, however, here are some responses to each question, along with some thoughts to ponder.

baczkowski_walt.jpgWhat Do We Know? Economists and the lending community have estimated that more than $100 billion has been written off due to the real estate downturn. We also know that ill-conceived lending programs, coupled with the belief that prices would continue to rise, resulted in many people purchasing property that should not have been in the market.

What Do We Fear? The most often-mentioned possibility here is government intervention. We have recently seen the passage of the housing stimulus legislation. However, there are other issues, just barely on the sidelines, that could dramatically affect real estate.

What Do We Sense? The items most frequently heard in this admittedly very non-scientific study were the length of the market downturn, change in consumers’ buying trends, multiple pressure points in this down cycle and changes in the real estate buying process.

Lastly, as consumers continue to surf the Web for real estate information and continue to be entertained by real estate, their perceptions about the market will continue to change, and not always positively. We need to continue to increase our social networking and promote Web-based information that is factual and accurate.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, please e-mail