Days Before Halloween, NBC Treats Real Estate Like Dawn of the Dead
If NBCâs Carl Quintanilla is in a bind about what to wear to the NBC News Halloween party, he could always go as a âhousing bubble.â
With only five days until Halloween, NBC âTodayâ show sought to spook viewers with yet another negative story on the housing market. But Quintanilla dressed up his attack on the economy with the same disguise The New York Times used a day earlier: a look at how hardware retailer Home Depot (NYSE: HD) is changing its business model to retain customers during a cooling housing market.
âThereâs even more bad news for the housing market,â anchor Matt Lauer told viewers of the October 26 morning news program. âLast month, home prices fell by 2.5 percent, thatâs the biggest drop ever,â he proclaimed, turning to Carl Quintanilla to look at how ânow, even Home Depot is feeling the crunch.â
Quintanilla began his story with typical media bluster about the housing marketâs woes, forgetting to tell viewers that both of the last two years have been all-time highs, so a decline from that number typically still reflects a huge increase.
âSeeking shelter from the economic storm. Home Depot, in the face of a massive slowdown in housing this year, is selling not just lumber, but candy, Halloween decorations, coffee, gasoline, anything to draw in customers,â the correspondent began his story.
A day earlier, New York Times reporters Michael Barbaro and Claudia H. Deutsch dressed up their story on Home Depot with the same premise.
âHow does the nationâs largest home improvement retailer weather the worst housing market in a decade,â they asked in the first paragraph of their October 25 article âA Cappuccino with the 2x4âs?â
But the âworst housing marketâ premise is misleading and confusing for the viewers at home, who arenât being given the full story.
According to the president of the group that calculates the existing home sales numbers, the marketâs performance is fundamentally sound even as it is cooling down from earlier record highs.
âThe good news is that fewer new listings are coming online. A stable sales pace is expected to draw down the number of listings to a supply balance that will support positive price growth within a few months,â the real estate trade group president added.
âTaking the long view is always the best way to approach housing decisions, and right now, buyers are in a very favorable market,â Stevens cautioned.
The Business & Media has previously reported on the ongoing media meme about the âhousing bubble.â
Reporting on a press release by the NAR on a cooling housing market on July 25, NBC âNightly Newsâ anchor Brian Williams presented a 1.3 percent decline in home sales as âa housing market thatâs really on the bubble.â
In July, NAR president Stevens insisted that âRelative to the five-year housing boom, this year is a buyerâs marketâ with âhistorically favorableâ interest rates such that âitâs a good time to buy a home.â
Nearly three months later, NBC picked up on just how strong a buyerâs market the real estate sector is shifting into, but Williams spun the news negatively.
ââIn Depthâ tonight, what some desperate house sellers have become willing to do these days just to find a buyer,â said Williams as he introduced an October 23 story by correspondent Kerry Sanders on âsome very motivated sellers in a housing market thatâs decidedly on the bubble.