- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

Realtors are responding to the tumult in the financial markets with radio ads that attempt to calm the fears of potential home buyers by focusing on the social benefits of homeownership.

“You might be wondering if buying a home right now is a smart financial decision,” says an ad by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). “The fact is that family conditions often outweigh market conditions.”

Prentice Howe, creative director of Door Number 3, an advertising and branding agency in Austin, Texas, believes the ad might lure some buyers off the fence.

“The timing of this ad is great because the message needs to get out there and it appears to be comforting and reassuring,” Mr. Howe said.

The NAR said its ad campaign needed to embolden potential buyers to take a look instead of assuming they should not buy a home.

“This year’s campaign goes beyond the ‘value of a Realtor’ messaging by balancing some of the national media reports related to the housing market with facts about the value of housing as a long-term investment,” said Stephanie Singer, a spokeswoman for the NAR.

“I think this campaign can do a lot of good to get the message out that it is a buyer’s market because there are a lot of first-time buyers out there,” said Mary A. Randle, owner and broker for Re/Max Supreme Properties in Great Falls and Washington’s Foxhall neighborhood. “The key is to realize that it might not be a good idea to buy if you’re planning to sell next year.”

John Mentis, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate in Arlington, doesn’t think the ad is especially groundbreaking.

“I think it’s just stating the obvious,” Mr. Mentis said. “There are things in the market that are making people hesitant to buy a home.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that housing starts dropped 6.2 percent in August - the biggest decline in 17 years. Analysts were predicting a 1.6 percent decline for the month, which illustrates how difficult it has been to predict where the real estate market is going.

“For people who are looking at buying a home, the first thing I would say is to do your homework because everyone’s situation is unique,” Mr. Mentis said.

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