SOURCE: National Association of Realtors

National Association of Realtors

November 14, 2009 15:50 ET

Realtors® Identify Industry Trends and Challenges for Year to Come

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - November 14, 2009) - Leading executives from major real estate firms believe the residential outlook for 2010 is positive, given the extended tax credit for home buyers as well as a steady rise in existing-home sales. These industry leaders also acknowledged ongoing challenges during a panel discussion hosted by the Real Estate Services Forum at the 2009 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego today.

"Our role in this industry is to be confident leaders," said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, Bellingham, Wash. "We are at the bottom of this crisis and are beginning to finally see a swing up."

Panelists emphasized the need to continue reaching first-time home buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors®' 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, first-time home buyers accounted for a record 47 percent share of home sales over the past year. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist has predicted there will be between 2.3 and 2.4 million first-time home buyers this year.

"We need to start today and continue reaching out to first-time home buyers," said Merle Whitehead, president and CEO of RealtyUSA, Orchard Park, N.Y. "It's imperative to convey to consumers that purchasing a home is a long-term investment."

To reach these consumers, more and more Realtors® are adding social media to their traditional communication methods, and multi-generational marketing has become a trend that Realtors® cannot ignore.

"Today consumers are on data overload and are relying on Realtors® to interpret that data," said Whitehead. "We must be proactive in reaching out to consumers through many different channels."

The industry will face several challenges in the coming year, including mortgage affordability, rising interest rates, and unemployment. Currently, the unemployment rate is predicted to climb to 9.5 percent by the end of 2010.

"The unemployment rate is expected to rise and we have to figure out how this will affect our market and how we can manage that challenge," said Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Participants agreed that the commercial real estate industry will also experience significant challenges in the year to come. Fueled by a credit crunch and current economic conditions, the commercial market will continue to struggle with rising vacancy rates and falling rents.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section. Statistical data, charts and surveys also may be found by clicking on Research.

REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. All REALTORS® are members of NAR.

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