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RISMEDIA, September 18, 2009—In looking to the future, it is important that we learn lessons from the past. As we all know, in certain U.S. markets homes began to be viewed strictly as an investment to be bought and sold for profit. Housing is not meant to be a short term investment, but rather a place of shelter where families are raised and precious memories are made. I feel confident that consumers have now a much more realistic and what I would consider much healthier view of what buying a home means. 

So, how and when will we return to a normalized market? I get asked this question a lot, and while I cannot predict the future, I tell our brokers and agents that it is important to be aware of the big picture, but focus on the things you can control. The things you can control are you and the number of contacts you make every day, how effectively you manage your contacts and the added value you bring to every transaction. In addition, education and training are critical for long-term success in this business. It’s what separates a good agent from a great agent. 

At Century 21®, we encourage our brokers and agents to educate the consumer on what buying a home means. Just because you can afford to buy something, doesn’t always mean you should. I believe we have all learned that if it is too good to be true, it probably is. In my travels and in every interview, I tell consumers to seek out a professional Realtor, someone who truly understands the market and the process. Ask a lot of questions. In many cases, potential home buyers may discover that they could pay a little more for a mortgage than they are paying in rent. 

Professional Realtors represent a power economic engine and the housing industry is a key building block of the overall economy. According to NAR, each home sold at the median price has an economic impact of approximately $63,000 on the local community. 

Through our parent company, Realogy, we have been strongly supportive of expanding the current First Time Home Buyer’s $8,000 tax credit to a $15,000 tax credit that is available to all homebuyers- anyone who purchases a home as their primary residence with no income requirements. If Congress is serious about getting this economy moving, it begins with housing. 

However, as entrepreneurs, I think we must shoulder some responsibility to take the initiative to sharpen our skills, get back to basics and rely on our own talents and abilities to fuel the recovery in housing and to spark the greater economy. 

Tom Kunz is President and CEO, Century 21 Real Estate.