I just spent the last few days traveling for the Leadership Team out West, first to California’s Legislative meetings and then to the Resort and Second Homes Meeting at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. It was a special trip and very inspiring.
In each of my public presentations, one message was central: The future will be written, and we REALTORS® have a choice: We can be authors of our future, or the object of the future. In other words, we can engage and write our future or we can be spectators.
For the past several years, we have “involved” ourselves by providing solutions to the housing crisis. However, now, there is a new approach REALTORS® across the country are embracing: action and engagement.
Maybe it was wishful thinking (or blind optimism) that led us to believe that the market would self correct and mortgage money would be available to credit worthy consumers. After the bailout of the “Too Big to Fail” banks, REALTORS® assumed that these companies would step up and begin to provide the life blood to our market – mortgage money. We also assumed that the government would step in and solve the problems. I’m not sure why we believed that everyone else would step up and make it right, but we did. And, to be fair, steps were taken, but it has not been enough and it is not right.
The change for us to be more active is a good one. We are relying upon ourselves – our hands and our ingenuity – to figure out the solution AND take control, rather than allowing some else to resolve the problems.
Your NAR leadership team is working within this new understanding and focus. We are no longer stepping. We are marching and running.
Specifically, we are working to create channels of communication between REALTORS® and the big banks. Right now the five largest banks are responsible for 73 percent of all of the mortgages written in the United States. While that fact may be disturbing, particularly considering that 30 years ago the top five banks were responsible for 25 percent of mortgage lending, it does have value. We only need to communicate with those five to resolve many issues in the market.
We have decided we need to be authors of our relationship with these banks. It is easy to blame, but creative problem solving requires focus and discipline. These are skills, traits that REALTORS® know well. We are working to write and define the “new normal.”
Some people suggest that leadership should not tell you what we are attempting to do, but rather tell you after the success has happened. I disagree. By sharing our agenda, we make sure that we are representing you. It is also a way to make leadership accountable. Most importantly, sharing gives you the responsibility and the opportunity to work together to come up with effective solutions.
After all, who has a better vantage point than you, the neighborhood REALTOR®? So, please, share your thoughts and ideas with us.
This initiative is a reach. We are looking to redefine the flow and availability of mortgage money. But our industry cannot operate without it. We need to ensure that the global financial system has a steady, competitive, reliable, and available source of mortgage money.
The American Dream, when realized, is a great thing for American families. While re-thinking what people can afford is appropriate, re-thinking cannot be allowed to eliminate homeownership entirely from the national consciousness.
As authors of our future, we must insure that the American dream is the right size, but still very much a real part of the American experience. — Ron Phipps, 2010 NAR President-Elect