Major hat-tip to Diana Olick at CNBC for doing five questions with HP. It's gotta be tough to do her job folks - by reporting the truth about housing, she's now being shunned by some of the REIC top dogs, and as she calls herself in the HP interview, is the "Usama Bin Laden of real estate" to the REIC.
But in the end, what do reporters get paid to do? You got it - report the damn truth. And the truth of this housing crash doesn't allow for sugar coating and spin anymore - well, unless you're the NAR and Lawrence Yun of course.
Check out her CNBC real estate blog for more insights into the housing market, and also her role as a reporter for America's leading business news station. Good stuff, good blog.
Here's the HP interview, in its entirety. I hope you join me HP'ers in welcoming Diana to the blog, and thanking her for her hard-edged reporting.
HP: Do you feel the Real Estate Industrial Complex attacks on the media's role in popping the housing bubble are fair?
DO: Absolutely not. I can't speak for everyone, but I report numbers, facts, statistics and on-the-street evidence.
I find that the REIC is ready to blame me no matter what I say. Last year I was "a shill for the Realtors, helping to pump up the market." This year I'm the Usama Bin Laden of real estate, blowing the housing market to bits with my reports.
CEO's of the major public home builders who were jumping at the chance to get on our air 18 months ago, are now shirking us with force, and when I argue, they say I make them all look like fools. This, after I did several pieces on all their buyer incentives...which one could argue is better than a commercial.
HP: Many in the media were cheerleading the bubble on the way up (remember the infamous Time Magazine housing cover?), and quoted NAR press releases as news. Just as many in the media jumped on tanks and ra-ra'ed the Iraq war. How would you rate the media's performance during the housing bubble and crash?
DO: I do my best, but look, the overall media jumps on whatever the hype-du-jour is. They have to because that's what the bosses want.
I have read some stuff out there about housing that is just positively false. During the subprime meltdown I watched a lot of material from local reporters and even network correspondents who clearly didn't fully understand the issue.
To be fair, the mainstream media is just that, mainstream, and having been one of those for many years, I know it's very hard to jump into a complex issue, often given one day to do it, and not just follow the hype.
The mortgage market is extremely complex. I have the advantage of being a specialist at a business channel, so I have more time to learn as much as I can about the sector.
HP: Many "analysts" are predicting the housing crash will finish up this year. What do you think?
DO: I think housing is a tricky storm and a slow moving one at that. Housing will recover of course, but it will do it locally and anecdotally at first. There is still a lot more fallout from readjusting ARMs and subprime loans.
I expect things to look better in 2008, but I wouldn't look for any dramatic improvements, overall nationwide, this year.
HP: What do you think about the housing bubble blogs? Do you read them yourself? Do you think they've played a role in deflating housing expectations and the bubble?
DO: I think blogs are wonderful. I have one myself (http://realtycheck.cnbc.com/), but the fact is that blogs are opinion and just that.
Many blogs include data and can be very informative, but as with anything, check the source, consider the blogger, and be careful.
I've learned a lot from blogs, I've also found some blogs to be wildly inaccurate. I don't, however, think that blogs are mainstream enough in the real estate market yet to have a profound effect on current sales. I say yet.
HP: What's the chatter at CNBC? I assume almost everyone there owns a home - are you getting any pressure to lighten up on the real estate crash, since it's costing everyone there some money? And do you think reporters like yourself should have to disclose whether they have real estate investments when they do a real estate article, just as they do with stocks?
DO: Well thanks for the compliment, but I don't think anyone truly believes that I can move the real estate market.
No, nobody at CNBC has told me to dial up or down on anything. As I said before, I report data, I interview experts, industry professionals and corporate leaders. I chat it all up in my blog, but on TV I am a reporter, and I do my best not to skew anything any specific way.
Look, I own a house. Do you think I want the value to go down? No, but I also don't think my reporting of real national and local numbers are going to change any values out there. There are far greater forces than me moving the housing market.
I do not have any real estate investments, other than my own home, and I, like all CNBC reporters, am not allowed to own any individual stocks, so I could not invest in a public home builder even if I wanted to.
I don't think the downturn in housing is "costing" regular homeowners any money, unless they are about to sell their homes. Investor, speculator, flipper-types are a different story.