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RISMEDIA, March 25, 2011—In the world of real estate, the going has been tough—and we have been going. These are the most challenging economic times that most of us have ever known. This has been a cold, long, and bitter economic winter in real estate. There are, however, hints of spring. And, yes, we are so ready to warm up. Among the encouraging signs are:

Pending home sales. In late January, we reported the fifth monthly gain in six months.

Home sales. We anticipate 5.3 million sales in 2011.

Consumer confidence index. The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence dipped in December, but was up again in January to levels not seen since spring 2010.

These are all indicators of what is going to happen, and they’re consistently positive. Beyond that, we have much to be thankful for. Think about how much worse the market would be without the U.S. Treasury’s actions to keep the economy flush and interest rates low. How would we have fared last year without the 2010 home buyer tax credit? What would it be like without a secondary market or the mortgage interest deduction? Where would we be without the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® advocating for property owners? The answer to all of these questions is that the market would be much worse. We would have a harder time making a living.

Our toughness and perseverance—combined with our strength as an organization—will help carry us through. We’re building on our strength by engaging in some serious listening. The NAR Leadership Team had its first Virtual Town Hall on Jan. 24. President-elect Moe Veissi, Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs Vince Malta, and Vice President and Liaison to Committees Elizabeth Mendenhall and I responded to questions from members around the country. It was a true conversation.

In March, we will make Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour stops in Chicago (March 4–6), Denver (March 17–20), and Portland (March 24–27). On the first day of each stop, NAR leaders will be meeting with and listening to local REALTORS®. From there, at local home shows in each city, we’ll be sharing our key messages with consumers: The mortgage interest deduction matters, the secondary mortgage market matters, and Home Ownership Matters. Let’s keep it going—we are tough, and better days are ahead.