“There is no indication, at this point, of any kind of substantial decline in prices.” –Cameron Muir, BC Real Estate Association, July 4 2008
“The bull market in housing is over in British Columbia, and it’s been over for several months.” –Cameron Muir, BC Real Estate Association, October 30 2008
It’s fascinating to watch the ebb and flow of hype. Less than 90 days ago the pundits were openly denying the mounting evidence of the real estate bust. Now, it’s an openly acknowledged fact — one, we’re told, that’s been the case for “several months.”
The about-face gives the media a new license on how they can report real estate news. It’s no longer off-limits to go negative. But I caution anyone thinking the frame has changed. It hasn’t. Real estate reporting remains framed as a lifestyle and consumer issue. Fundamental questions, such as what are the real fundamentals to support housing prices, are largely ignored. Even Global News, which recently exposed the RE industry on its hype, concludes its analysis from a consumer frame. Here’s how reporter Ted Chernecki closes his October 23 report:
So if you’re on the inside looking out and planning on the equity in your home to finance your retirement, bad news. But for those on the outside looking in, for any first-time buyers — this is probably the best news you’ve heard in decades.
The statement is accurate but it’s also narrow. It leaves no room for the tens of thousands of Lower Mainland families who, even with current price declines, face no prospect whatsoever of being able to afford appropriate accommodation. Where is the coverage that looks into what housing should be worth? Where is the reporting that addresses the relevance of affordable housing to the future of the region’s economy?