Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jim Wasserman, "Home Wrecker?"

From the Sacramento Bee opinion page:

Public Editor: Housing market slumps; the messenger is blamed

To some readers, reporter Jim Wasserman is a home wrecker. That's what happens when you chronicle the downturn in what was previously the hottest thing going: the go-go residential real estate market.
...
The market has tanked. Prices continue to slide, inventories of homes for sale are at or near record levels and new home construction has stalled. The industry -- from real estate agents and developers to home sellers and mortgage lenders -- is spooked.

And The Bee's storyteller of this falling market is Wasserman, a veteran reporter who most recently worked for the Associated Press in Sacramento before hiring on at the paper as a business writer about a year and a half ago.

"I'm trying to sell my home and your articles are not helping (us) sellers," one woman said in an e-mail she sent Wasserman on Aug. 17, the day he wrote a front-page story that carried the headline "Area's home prices decline. Sacramento County's drop is steepest in state; sales also fall."

"Thanks for eating away a large portion of my equity!!!"

"For many people, he is blamed for the market tanking," said Wasserman's editor Wayne Davis, who finds such notions ludicrous. "He gets the brunt of the heat and he gets verbally abused. But there's nothing you can do but write the best stories you can." One new home builder told Wasserman that buyers have come into his company's sales offices, newspaper in hand, and cancelled their purchase contracts, pointing to a Wasserman story about the housing slump.
...
Both he and Davis find it amusing that at the height of the housing boom, no one called to complain about the coverage. "Those people who blame us today," said Davis, "they didn't call a year and a half ago to tell us we were driving up the market."

17 comments:

Lander said...

Thank you Patient Renter for the link.

I thought this was interesting:

The stories have been a hit at sacbee.com, where dozens of readers weigh in with comments, making them among the most popular online. The debate among readers is extraordinary and is often intense, personal, chatty and catty.

Wasserman, who took over the housing/real estate beat in April, reads the comments regularly. It helps him, he says, get the views of "real people" and he has used some of the information to add context to his stories.

JR said...

We have often ranted on this blog about Wasserman and the Bee, being a bit biased toward the real estate community. I was very surprised to see they rant at him from the other side! I guess he is doing a balanced job after all. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I love America. We complain when the media doesn't provide "all" the news and we complain when they provide "all" the news. On another note,it just goes to show that many sellers right now, "can't handle the truth."

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Fresno, where Wasserman wrote for the Fresno Bee on a number of topics, not just real estate.

When I was transferred to Sacramento I was happy to see Wasserman show up in town a year later. He's a solid reporter, whatever the subject.

The full Bee article excerpted by lander mentions that Wasserman lives in Elk Grove and owns a home there. His personal interest then would be in minimizing the Sac Bubble, as it affects his own holdings.

Wasserman doesn't minimize or sensationalize. I find his reporting generally balanced.

Anonymous said...

Jim Wasserman, two thumbs up! News is news as lomg as it's accurate!

Anonymous said...

...correction, as long as it's accurate...

Anonymous said...

Aren’t all agents supposed to submit all offers to the sellers? There’s a house I’ve been looking at and I want to put in my offer, for one dollar. I’m ready to deal.

Merced Going Quickly said...

Imagine, these people believe one article, on report can influence the housing market. If someone wants a home, they'll the pay the outragous price. Wasserman reported the fact that people stopped buying, for whatever reason -- maybe, the mortgage was 50% of their income.

drwende said...

And let's not forget that when housing prices were surging at a rate far surpassing increases in income or population, that rise was attributed to "fundamentals" by the same people who are quick to blame bad publicity and hysteria for driving prices down.

I like Wasserman's coverage; never saw why it was seen as too pro-realtor or pro-developer.

Max said...

The only bias I perceive is he quotes RE agents/brokers as experts, and lets them get in their positive spin. I do have sympathy for the guy though, since it's hard to find unbiased sources in the RE industry. :)
I would like to see more "on the ground" reporting. There's a huge undercurrent of desperation out there that you'll never see if you only talk to agents. For example, I'm showing over 1 in 4 flippers are now in the red in Sacramento. Also, there's the huge story of the builders undercutting the flippers from last year...

love4_me said...

Who you callin' "DESPERATE" ?

What...does it show ?

Just had a EG 3Br fall out at $269K. Was a $360K in Aug '05.

I am like "pissed".

Does Wasserman report about angry sellers ? Don't think so.

The Bee has been very reasonable in thier reporting of the market.

I am very grateful for the good weather, 6% -30 year fixed, gas at $2.30, any RE agent willing to do honest and fair agency and The Bee still being right on the money.

You could not ask for a better time to sell then today.

I am pretty sure tomorrow I will be a just a bit more desperate.
I can see The February 14, 2007 Valentines Day massacre just beyond.

Anonymous said...

"Max" is correct

1. Failed to catch hyperventilated speculative sacramento real estate market, even after it was exposed months earlier on these blogs

2. Failed to catch downward spiral of condos, highrise urban and others until months after is was exposed in these blogs

3. Failed to catch phony baloney financing schemes for real estate which drove the speculative and hyped market until months after it was exposed in these blogs

4. Failed to catch specious financing of Elk Grove Pot Houses until weeks after it was exposed in these blogs

5. Failed to expose the government financing of the downtown revival and the reason that there was supposedly a "boom" and now is a bust..

6. Failed to explain what Joe Maloof was saying about the Railyards and financial viability of the Kings

7. Failed to explain the government giveaway for the Maloof Auditorium...

Yeah, I would say the local newspapers didn't do such a bang up job exposing the hypster, crooks, speculators in the RE industry...

and the Bee does rely on the same Hypsters, Crooks, Liars, Speculators in the RE industry for their "expert" commentary...

The Sac Biz Journal is a joke, merely an organ for the Hypsters, Crooks and Liars in the RE industry...

News and Review is the only local rag that is decent...

but that's

"Living Urban in Sacramento"

Anonymous said...

Real estate brokers can forecast the market as well as Bush can run this country!

Watch gas prices go up later this month.

Anonymous said...

Why will has prices go up? I think they will fall further.

But anyway, since this is about the housing bubble in Sacramento, I must say that this is a ridiculous accusation by the seller. If one reporter can impact an entire market then something's really wrong.

Anonymous said...

Oop...I meant "gas prices" not "has prices" in my previous post.

Anonymous said...

The truth is out there... Why will gas prices go up? Because its already in the cards... www.nymex.com Dig around there a little... educate yourselfs, they hide the truth in plain sight! (These guys are good!)

Hmmm another avenue? Try looking into the Goldman Sacks energy hedge fund. For some crazy reason they decided to liquidate ALL of their unleaded gas futures positions (over the course of the last few months) If a mutual fund dramatically liquidated a published percentage of the fund's weighting OVERNIGHT like that, there would be hell to pay....

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:48 -

The sold to cover calls coming in on other positions that have tanked.

Ever heard of Amaranth? Brian Hunter?

Yeah well energy is one hell of a volatile market, sometimes you have to rob peter to pay paul when the creditors come a knockin.

If you think gas prices are going to go back up, buy XOM, CVX, etc. etc. and hedge yourself. Ahh hell, what am I saying... Chances are you already own them indirectly in your 401k/IRA via mutual funds. ;)