Back to the Future
Back in early 90s the nations housing market seemed pretty dreary. After having boomed for the better part of a decade, many of the hottest markets peaked in the late 80s and were firmly in recession by early 1990.
By that time, buyers had become significantly more cautious and housing inventories had grown to levels exceeding that of the last major housing correction.
In the end, the downturn would last longer than most had predicted with many areas bottoming out in the mid-90s and taking until 1997 for most areas to surpass the peak prices.
The following article, published in The Post-Standard (of Syracuse NY) dated January 16, 1991, chronicles the activities taken by the National Association of Realtors in an attempt to spur on buyers.
Notice some of the interesting similarities between the events chronicled in this article and the predicament we find ourselves in today.
Note also, that John Tuccillo, who then held the position of Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors, seemed to be (from various quotes published at that time) substantially more measured in his approach as compared to the current bearer of that title.
If you’re interested in knowing what Mr. Tuccillo thinks about the current housing bubble read his blog.
Everything in Place but Buyers
By ALBERTO BIANCHETTI
The Post-Standard - January 16, 1991
On paper, with selection high, prices stabilizing and interest rates at a decade long low, this should be a great time to buy a house, the National Association of Realtors' top economist said Tuesday.
But, in reality, those sound facts have been overcome by widespread uncertainty by buyers. "Everything is in place, but what is not there is the buyers," said John A. Tuccillo, chief economist and senior vice president for the National Association of Realtors. "They are not there for two reasons. They don't know what is happening
in the economy and they don't know what is happening politically."
Tuccillo was in Syracuse to help the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors kick off an advertising campaign designed to help boost a flagging local real estate market.
If hostilities in the Middle East can be avoided, Tuccillo projects the national housing market will pick up in the late spring, with the national economy following suit a few months later. A brief Middle East war that does not do permanent damage to oil distribution channels will delay the recovery by three months, "War pushes things back," Tuccillo said.
The local Realtors used Tuccillo to spread the message that the Syracuse housing market is not as bad off as other Northeast markets, especially those in the Boston-Philadelphia corridor. " Syracuse is a market that has performed better than the rest of the Northeast," Tuccillo said.
Tuccillo attributed the better performance largely to the fact that the Syracuse market acts more like a medium-sized Midwestern city than a large metropolis. "There wasn't the rapid growth in the 1980s, so there is no hangover now," Tuccillo said.
Nevertheless, the market is queasy. Syracuse's home sales dropped 7 percent to 5,893 in 1990, down from 6,326. Meanwhile, price increases have slowed. In 1990, average prices rose only 3.2 percent to $95,430. In 1989, the increase was 7 percent and, in 1988, the increase was 10.5 percent.
John Osta, president of the local Realtors' group, said the campaign called "Yes You Can!" is intended to combat the impression that the local real estate market is stagnant.
"We in Central New York get painted by the broad brush nationally," Osta said. "The plan is to counter the mentality and image in the marketplace that things are real bad."
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