Alternative Title: David Lereah: Even More Full of Shit Than Previously Believed

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Of all the various parties who contributed to the boom and bust in housing and credit, none have escaped more unscathed than the National Association of Realtors, and their former Baghdad-Bob-in-Chief, David Lereah.

The NAR turned a blind eye to fraud amongst realtors in terms of referrals to corrupt appraisers and mortgage brokers. They constantly cheerleaded prices, despite evidence to the contrary. For 3 years, they have been forecasting 2nd half price recoveries, dissuading realism amongst home sellers. They continually spun data, presented misleading commentary, and otherwise engaged in behavior that could only be characterized as sleazy.

I find EVERYTHING out of the NAR to be suspect, tainted and generally worthless. The NAR Housing Affordability Index is essentially worthless; from 1989 – 2009, the NAR showed housing as “Unaffordable” for just one month.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not the NAR are a bunch of shameless, lying hucksters who deserve to have glass catheters inserted in their Urethras then shattered, consider this:

Working for realtors, David Lereah was famously optimistic. Not anymore.
By Donna Rosato

As chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, David Lereah was famously optimistic. Now a private consultant, he’s abandoned what he calls the “positive spin.”

Q: Were you wrong to be so bullish?
A: I worked for an association promoting housing, and it was my job to represent their interests. If you look at my actual forecasts, the numbers were right inline with most forecasts. The difference was that I put a positive spin on it It was easy to do during boom times, harder when times weren’t good. I never thought the whole national real estate market would burst.

Q: The NAR’s latest forecast calls for a slight increase in home prices next year. Thoughts?
A: My views are quite different now. I’m pretty bearish and have been for the past year and a half. Home prices will continue to drop. I think we’ll see a very modest recovery in sales activity in 2009. But we’ve still got excess inventories, a bad economy and a credit crunch that will push prices down further, another 5% to 10% more. It’ll take a long time to get back
to the peak prices we saw in many markets.

Q: Any regrets?
A: I would not have done anything different. But I was a public spokesman writing about
housing having a good future. I was wrong. I have to take responsibility for that.

-DONNA ROSATO – Fri Dec 19 2008, 11:14

Ahhh, so he admits to being nothing more than a paid shill whose mouth was available for a price. How does that job description vary from the Trannies who hang out by the West Side Highway? In my book, not by very much. A whore is a whore is a whore. Anyone who pays attention to the garbage generated by the NAR is a fool.

Oh, and I’m presenting Wednesday at Global Connect:

A World of Innovation, today January 7 at the Marriott Marquis, on the main stage on Wednesday, January 7, 2009.

Session: Wednesday, January 7, 2009, 3:30 pm – 4:15 pm

Description: Bulls vs. Bears: A frank discussion of where we are in the cycle of housing prices.
Panel: Noah Rosenblatt, Nouriel Roubini, Lawrence Yun (NAR), Barry Ritholtz

Lereah’s replacement — Lawrence Yun — is also on the panel. He has yet to demonstrate whether he will be an improvement over Baghdad Bob Lereah.

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Previously:
Realtors Get Real (March 2007)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2007/03/quote-of-the-day-realtors-get-real/

Pending Home Sales Index, NAR Housing Market “Bottoms” (January 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/01/pending-home-sales-index-nar-housing-market-bottoms

How Counter-Productive is Realtor Association Spin? (March 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/03/how-counter-productive-is-realtor-association-spin/

NAR Housing Affordability Index is Worthless (August 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/08/nar-housing-affordability-index-is-worthless/

Source:
Former real estate bull admits, “I spun”
VOL. 38, NO. 1 – January 2009 – Mon Dec 22 2008, 08:58

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/2009/01/01/toc.html

Confessions of a former real estate bull
Donna Rosato,
Money Magazine, January 5, 2009: 10:30 AM ET

http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/05/real_estate/Lereah.moneymag/index.htm

Category: Contrary Indicators, Legal, Real Estate, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

38 Responses to “Former NAR Economist David Lereah is a Jackass”

  1. caleb says:

    Lereah was a shill perhaps, but he also bought into some Florida real estate near the peak. Yun is in the same mold, if you can’t find anything nice to say about real estate, make it up.

  2. Scott F says:

    Don’t sugar coat it . . . How do you really feel?

  3. JustinTheSkeptic says:

    BR, these people should be brought before Congress, just like all the rest of the supposed crooks. They actually ended up hurting the industry in the long-run, and it will take years and years to get over it.

  4. Jojo99 says:

    I don’t see why you should be surprised Barry. This is the same thing you hear on CNBC every day from 90% of their “guests” who in one way or another, are all industry players. Lereah was a shill and he was getting paid to be so. He was/is not alone.

  5. Texican says:

    This is old news, but I’m glad to see it posted again. NAR is simply a sales promotion organization. They masquerade as a professional oversight body, but outside of their membership nobody really buys that. Lereah’s admission is sort of gutless, like the builder who knows that fire codes are being ignored but doesn’t say anything until the building burns down and people die. I have no respect for NAR at all. If there is a benefit to this whole mess, perhaps it will be the discrediting of this shameful organization.

  6. Lereah is, as others above note, the ‘low-hanging fruit’..

    Though, it is, somewhat shocking to see him come out, in print, with the above..

    I would have faded, even, that level of integrity..

  7. jc says:

    He’s just an industry pimp who does a 180 the day he’s leaves office, Like McClelland the WH Press secretary who wrote the tell all (Treasury Sec Snow did the same thing, now he’s pimpeing for Cerberus!)

    I think it’s Bernanke who should be treated to a shattering experience with the glass catheter, he has lost all independence and credibility and is a TeamBush cheerleader all the way, denying the obvious. He’ was pumping so much sunshine up our asses we needed to apply sunscreen with an enema.

  8. philipat says:

    I think you’re being overly charitable to Yun, possibly because you had already vented your spleen, possibly because you want to meet the guy on neutral terms. But let’s be honest, he has already produced the same disingenuous spin as Lereah. The things some people will do for a salary!

  9. MikeBC says:

    The West Side Trannies resent the slanderous implications of your likening the NAR’s economist to them.

  10. Mike in Nola says:

    Reminds me of Elliot Abrams, one of the biggest unashamed liars I”ve ever seen. Still remember seeing an interview with him around the time Iran Contra broke. He was putting out some real whoppers that anyone who read the newspapers knew were lies. The interviwer knew he was lying and Abrams knew the interviewer knew he was lying, but Abrams was obviously enjoying himself.

    That’s what presidential pardons are for.

    And, of course, he wound up as one of Condi’s chief advisors on the middle east, explaining in large part why she has been so successful and left it so peaceful.

  11. philipat says:

    Afterthought: Who would pay a consultant who has demonstrated in writing that he will spill the beans as soon as the gig is over? Perhaps not the most career enhancing move? Perhaps also confirming what a jerk the guy is.

  12. E says:

    Lereah went to UVA. Nuff said.

  13. Jojo99:
    Speaking of shills, Lawrence Yun was on some TV program(maybe CNBC .. I am not sure) last week. He was doing his usual “Kevin Bacon at the end of Animal House” routine. I almost fell over laughing since I knew how full of crap he was.

  14. Moss says:

    This is what you get when each party is acting in their own self interest. Facts matter little, deception runs rampart.

  15. littleboyblue says:

    Four Letters – F S B O
    I would rather give 6% to a lawyer! Every member of NAR is a huckster/pusher David Lereah wannabe.

  16. ottovbvs says:

    Yun: are you kidding. The record is already loaded with examples of his bs including some you’ve quoted Mr Ritholtz. The wider issue surely is that all these “experts” employed by banks, trade associations, etc etc all have agendas. It’s the reason as was pointed out here yesterday why som many Street economists stayed upbeat for so long. The alternative was a pink slip.

  17. VennData says:

    The difference between an NAR spokesman and a whore is there are things and whore won’t do for money.

  18. Stuart says:

    yet, like so many others, his assertions were unchallenged by the main stream media. This is just as much an outrage. The MSM was merely a vestibule from which they permitted such flagrant reporting abuse, in effect, passively providing safe harbor.

  19. ZackAttack says:

    Make him cry, Barry. I want to see an economist crying in front of an audience in a YouTube video.

    A quick Google found some juicy stuff:

    http://lawrenceyunwatch.blogspot.com/

  20. MRegan says:

    Lereah’s willingness to ‘spin’ a misleading narrative around housing data is a symptom of our culture’s fundamental crisis of deteriorating integrity. We are simply unwilling (perhaps unable) to pay the price of honesty. It’s funny to me that people are willing to say really foul and obscene things with great gusto but shy away from truth-telling. What are we so scared of? I say we because surely all of us are guilty of some mendacity along the way. I for one hope to retain at least the ability to view myself critically and not succumb to a Lereah-like numbness and cynicism.

  21. ZackAttack says:

    There are no negative consequences, other than our spittle-flecked outrage, for having been wrong. This is a pervasive theme in finance-oriented industries.

    For those who are “screw-you” rich, it’s a Nerf World. They’re simply allowed to start the fleecing all over again, elsewhere.

  22. leftback says:

    Lereah and Yun are absolute liars and propagandists who would have made Goebbels blush.

    Since Barry moved to WordPress, I regret that I am no longer able to log in occasionally as Lawrence Yun in order to leave pithy and ironic commentary. That was amusing, to me at least.

  23. Groty says:

    It’s just another example of how corruption has become endemic to society. The corruption so prevalent during the housing boom, with the investment bankers, mortgage brokers, rating agencies, homebuilders, regulators, etc. seems to have dwarfed the corruption prevalent during the tech boom.

    So, if the corruption gets progressively worse with each cycle, I suspect the corruption among business, politicians, lobbyists, etc. that will accompany Obama’s $1 trillion stimulus will make Lereah look like a choir boy.

    Note to Obama cult members: I’m not saying he personally is or will be corrupt…just that there’s going to be alot of undeserving hands in the honey pot.

  24. edhopper says:

    Barry, will a video of this panel be available online at some point?

  25. Thisson says:

    The MSM suffers from the same fate as economists. If they try to report the economic situation as it really is, they get the pink-slip from their advertisers (who are trying to push products).

  26. AGG says:

    I was just following orders.
    I was just trying to make money.
    I was loyal to my organization.
    Everybody else was doing it.
    Profit has nothing to do with morality.
    I don’t want to be honest and poor.
    It’s a tough world.
    S0?
    So what?
    And so it goes…

  27. Transor Z says:

    Excerpts from the NAR Code of Ethics. [Cue Woody Guthrie, please]:

    Preamble
    Under all is the land. ["As I was walking, that ribbon of highway..."] Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. REALTORS® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.

    Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which REALTORS® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be diligent in preparing themselves. REALTORS®, therefore, are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor.

    REALTORS® . . . identify and take steps, through enforcement of this Code of Ethics and by assisting appropriate regulatory bodies, to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession.

    The term REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal. [Because that's what I think of when I think realtor, especially seller's agents who let buyers think they are buyer's agents.]

    In the interpretation of this obligation, REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [The King James language makes it way holy.]

  28. AGG says:

    Transor Z,
    You forgot to mention the iron discipline realtors have shown over the last 50 years in “preserving unofficial color and ethnicity lines in neighborhoods”. They are the bigots par excellence. Sorry, it’s under conditional contract but we can show you this nice handyman special accross the tracks.

  29. wunsacon says:

    >> I regret that I am no longer able to log in occasionally as ___ in order to leave pithy and ironic commentary. That was amusing, to me at least.

    Leftback, I know what you mean! Can’t do it anymore…too lazy to create multiple accounts…

    I always got a kick out of those posts — “cute satire”.

  30. FrancoisT says:

    “I don’t see why you should be surprised Barry. This is the same thing you hear on CNBC every day from 90% of their “guests” who in one way or another, are all industry players. Lereah was a shill and he was getting paid to be so. He was/is not alone.”

    Bingo!

    If the populace could be served an agreeable counterpoint to all the officialdom spin, it would be a weekly Internet TV panel with Barry (or whomever wanted to do this) as moderator, selected guests that know WTF they’re talking about, not afraid to speak their mind and…guests from the best and most informed posters around here.

    THAT could be a lot of fun.

  31. 10 cc says:

    “Ahhh, so he admits to being nothing more than a paid shill whose mouth was available for a price.”

    Well, I’m willing to give him a couple of points for at least admitting it. LOL.

    I could probably reel off a thousand names who should make the same admission but haven’t and most likely never will.

    What was his motivation for “confessing”? I suspect that it’s his way of saying “no, I wasn’t really that stupid” (as to actually believe what I was saying).

    In other words, given only two options, he’d rather be remembered as an asshole than an imbecile.

    Makes sense in a twisted sort of way.

  32. FrancoisT says:

    @AGG:
    “You forgot to mention the iron discipline realtors have shown over the last 50 years in “preserving unofficial color and ethnicity lines in neighborhoods”.

    That is not the realtors’ fault. This one is on us.

    How can I say that?

    Check how the term “diversity” when applied to the place one lives, is perceived by Caucasians, Latinos, Asians and African-Americans in the US.

    I can assure you that Caucasians do not come up as very tolerant people; quite the contrary in fact.

    A neighborhood with ~40% of “others” is considered diversified by African-Americans and Latinos.
    A neighborhood with ~30% of “others” is considered diversified by Asians.
    A neighborhood with ~10% of “others” is considered diversified by Caucasians. When the number reaches 15%, there is serious discussion about moving elsewhere. At 20%…that’s it! Were outta here!

    What’s a Realtor to do?

  33. curtisabbott says:

    Barry, I think your description of what these guys deserve is too…vivid…for a family oriented blog.

  34. jmcmanus says:

    Grumpy Morning for The Big Picture….Whoever brewed Barry Ritholtz’s coffee this morning around 6:30 (ET) may want to check to see whether Jamaica Blue Mountain is all that’s going into that bean grinder. Something else appears to have kicked in just before he posted his rant on former National Association of Realtors chief economist David Lereah this morning, titled “Former NAR Economist David Lereah is a Jackass.”
    http://www.housingcrisis.com/financial-crisis/grumpy-morning-big-picture/

  35. mark mchugh says:

    @Curtis,

    Since you seem so concerned about families, do you have any idea how many families have had their financial futures obliterated because they believed Lereah’s propaganda? Impalement is too good for this guy. Especially because he’s admitting that he was deceitful, rather than just stupid.

    One of my favorite things about Barry is that he’s not afraid to be politically incorrect, especially when it comes to people escaping justice. David Lereah deserves to be tarred and feathered, literally.

    I really don’t want to attack you, but I don’t think this was ever intended to be a family oriented blog (whatever the fuck that means).

  36. Andrew11 says:

    haha hilarious post Barry, I love the vehemence!

  37. rmasand says:

    Lereah is a whore. And Yun’s indistinguishable from Lereah. And BR is on a panel discussion with Yun. So whatdoes that make us?

    ———————————————————————————

    You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage,
    You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage,
    You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
    They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

    Bob Dylan

  38. fuellingkaty says:

    All I know is that I wanted to puke when I saw the NAR float in the Rose Bowl Parade. There should have been a Foreclosure sign in the yard of that floral house. That and “Beware Bogus Lending!”