So much for a “softening” market — Vancouver real estate is into full-fledged bear mode. The latest numbers from the industry tell it all. In only 90 days, Greater Vancouver house prices have fallen by tens of thousands of dollars. In percentage terms, houses are down 4.3 per cent, condos 3.9 per cent and townhouses 3.2 per cent. These declines aren’t year over year. They’re since May.
In a press release, Dave Watt from the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board tries his best to position the “Summer lull” in the most flattering light:
In August, properties on average remained on the market longer than we’ve seen in recent years. As the market heads into the traditionally more active fall season, we have begun to see property listings recede and prices moderate.
Sometimes, such as when dealing with bad news, organizations make a conscious choice to release an awkward quote. Watt’s scripted words seem to follow that thinking. If I decode him correctly, he’s saying listings are up because homes are on the market longer but we can expect this to change because, traditionally, more people buy homes in the fall.
In theory, a convoluted quote should be effective because it distracts the audience from the negative and directs them to the positive. In practice, it rarely works, usually because the quote doesn’t address what people want to know about. For this reason, reporters have little use for them. They prefer to go to the source and get a real quote for themselves.
So when the Vancouver Sun asks Dave Watt to explain why the market’s peaked, we get a no-nonsense answer you’d never find in a release:
I think it was not a willingness to pay more. We hit a level where buyers simply could not. They weren’t able to borrow more money or whatever. That’s a real, true market taking care of itself.
My question for the real estate industry and PR people in general: Why not be so honest and direct in a press release?