Good News, Bad News: Home Prices Fall Off A Cliff; Big AntiTrust Case May Help Home Buyers


Good news, bad news time for real estate and the general economy this week.

The bad is, I am afraid, very bad, indeed.

Prices for single-family homes took a nose dive in the first quarter of 2008…down an enormous 14.1 percent from the year before.

Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller report, according to Reuters, says this is at “a pace five times faster than the last housing recession.”

The chairman of S&P’s index committee tells the wire service, “There are very few silver linings that one can see in the data.”

You think?

And now, says the New York Times, the housing mortgage mess has spilled over into the auto industry in a very big way. Mostly because many people can’t borrow against their mortgage now.

Want proof?

Shares of General Motors Tuesday slid to a 27 year low!

Okay, now some good news…for consumers but maybe not so good for bricks-and-mortar brokers.

The U.S. Justice Department has just reached a deal with the National Association of Realtors in an anti-trust case.

Says the New York Times on its website, “government officials said (the deal) should spur competition among brokers and ultimately bring down hefty sales commissions.”

Told you this may not be such good news for brokers…though it is for consumers and, in particular, for Internet real estate brokers.

Under the terms of this settlement–the case goes back to 2005–Internet brokers will be able to use the multiple listing services that are used by other brokers and which were sometimes denied them.

A judge still must approve all this, of course.

Here comes the good news, bad news thing again—one expert predicts this deal will eventually result in a reduction of sales commissions of as much as 50 percent! Good for consumers, bad for some brokers.

The Times quotes one business professor as saying, “It’s pretty clear that there was an enormous amount of discrimination against brokers who were trying to use innovative business models. There are lots of entrepreneurs who have been looking for a green light in the form of this order to begin offering discounted rates. It has the potential to be a big step forward for consumers.”

Could this be the spark needed to breathe new life into the real estate market? (yes, I know there are really several markets depending upon where you live, but, in general, the real estate market nationwide is not doing all that well!)

I doubt it. Too many other things need fixing, too.

Having said that, anything that means lower rates for home buyers is bound to, over time, help improve the dismal picture we now have, and that has to be good news no matter how you look at it!

About Author

Charles is currently reporting for KNX Radio in Los Angeles, is the co-author of the book No Time To Think, and can be found commenting about the news on his blog, The Feldman Blog, as well as on The Huffington Post.


  1. This will be very interesting. It is amazing how the government can step in and change the way business is handled. What ever happen to a free market? I predict we will see a few lawsuits start to come about because of people going with small brokrage companies, trying to save a dime, but loosing a dollar in the process.

  2. interesting — and right on about the market. i’m down in southwest florida and its bad down here. 2,000 homeowners filing for foreclosure in my county since the beginning of this year…

  3. I don’t own a home at the moment, but I’m looking to buy one.

    I wonder how much more the prices are going to fall…

    Should I buy now (I’m afraid their going to rise again), or should I wait a little more…

  4. The DOJ vs. NAR lawsuit will mean very little if anything to anyone.

    NAR had already changed their policy on Internet display of listings just after the DOJ filed their lawsuit.

    And of course the media still spreads that myth of a “national real estate market” when there is no such thing just like the national weather report. If you live in south Florida do you dress for the weather in Minot, South Dakota in January?

    Real prices are chiefly driven by local economies.

  5. Good information! No matter what you think simple economics tells you that if you cause prices to drop the result will be an increase in demand. This can only help stimulate the housing recession.

    Thank you, Mr. Feldman I believe you did a good job at describing the macro-economic possible changes that could occur because of this settlement/deal on the aggregate real estate market.

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