News about the housing market feels more real and understandable to a lot of consumers than other economic data, probably because the need for a roof over our heads is something we all have and can relate to.
However, the fact that real estate and mortgage have become regular fixtures in the mainstream media since the housing crisis of the late 2000s isn’t necessarily a benefit to the consumers the media claims to be serving. The media may be well-educated and well-meaning, but some stories, headlines and click bait are reckless due to lack of background and context.
Take this recent headline: “More Americans Prioritize Debt Repayment Over Homeownership.” Surprisingly, this story is about results of a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and was published in a reputable mortgage industry-focused magazine. A headline that talks about debt reduction over homeownership isn’t necessarily a responsible message to the industry or consuming public for several reasons – including, but not limited to these:
- The data was collected by an organization who specializes in helping people with debt issues – so the respondents aren’t necessarily representative of the general public
- It’s not clear if the 80% of 1834 respondents who put debt repayment ahead of homeownership in their priorities currently own homes
- Not all home buyers need to pay off all – or any – debt to qualify to buy a home
- The title could lead a consumer to draw a conclusion that isn’t the best choice for their specific situation
Publications like the one who did this article likely believe their mission is to report data and information as it relates to the field they serve – which is parallel to what traditional media does with a narrower focus.
Market and industry-related information is important for Mortgage Loan Officers and Realtors, but it’s not always user-friendly when it comes to building their business. The public becomes interested and is more likely to act when they feel they can gain or they can avoid loss – and busy sales professionals don’t always have the time to consistently dissect, analyze and compare all the data to uncover the benefits or ramifications for consumers or craft the information into effective marketing messages.
It’s just as important for real estate insiders to look beyond the headlines as it is for the public. Top lending and real estate professionals need to align themselves with resources that save them time, truly serve the consumers and build their business.