Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Review of 2008

As we finish up 2008 it is useful to look back on what just happened in order to plan for the future. The Swanepoel Trends Report has done just that and will be released in early 2009. The following is a sneak preview of some of the reported findings.


(A Sneak Peek into the 2009 edition of the Swanepoel TRENDS Report)

As part of the annual Swanepoel TRENDS Report that is published every year during the first week of February, the research team wraps up their four month study of the real estate industry by announcing the top 10 Newsmakers, Events and Trendsetters for the year.

Events are defined as those occurrences that transpired during the previous calendar year (2008) that made headlines and captured the attention of the real estate industry. The selection of these events was based upon their potential future impact on the industry rather than only their 2008 impact.

The Top 10 Events That Impacted Real Estate in 2008 are:

1. The Bailout: September 17th

Most notably, the one single event of the year was the announcement of the “Silver Bullet” designed to save the country from the subprime collapse itself and the failure/buyout of major Wall Street firms and national banks. Depending upon how effectively the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act’s $700 billion is going to be allocated and managed it may prove to be the beginning of the turning point in the current economic recession.

2. The Presidential Election

In one of the most competitive, contentious, divisive and yet historic political campaigns, the country responded with the largest voter turnout in history to elect an African American, Barak Obama as president.  “I have a dream” has taken a huge step toward fulfillment. However, the new administration will have little time to reflect on victory as it faces serious economic challenges and a trillion dollar plus debt that will take years to resolve.

3. In Memory Of: Countrywide, IndyMac, WAMU, Wachovia And Others

Barely one year ago in 2007 these companies were not only household names but were considered financial giants. In one short year they have become a factoid of history. Some filed for bankruptcy while others were acquired by the likes of Bank of America, the federal government, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. 2008 reminded us that nothing lasts forever and everything is replaceable.

4. Facing Foreclosure Frenzy

As a direct fallout of the subprime collapse, the foreclosure rate in the U.S. hit staggering levels in 2008. At the opening of the third quarter foreclosures were up 25% over the previous October with a reported one in every 452 of the country’s homes in foreclosure. RealtyTrac reported last October that there was a sharp decline in foreclosure filings but it still estimated that, by the end of 2008, there would be more than one million REOs on the books.

5. Home Prices Spiral Downward

The recession devastated many real estate markets across the country with the worst-performing towns and cities in places like central California, Miami and Las Vegas posting declines of 40% in 2008. The stranglehold on financing continued to drive home prices in many other places back to 2000 – 2002 levels, with predictions of continued declines in 2009 as unemployment reaches record highs and the financial meltdown spills over to other industries.

6. NAR – DOJ Settlement

Finally the long and protracted 2.5 year legal battle between NAR and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was put to rest as Judge Kennelly issued his final judgment in November. In the end, NAR’s longstanding Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy was validated as NAR was deemed to have not admitted any liability or wrongdoing and no payments were made in conjunction with the settlement. In addition, NAR has been cleared to reinstate an updated version of its Virtual Office Website (VOW) and the MLS has been preserved and strengthened in the process. Now it’s back to business.

7. Brokers Go Bust

Changing names, merging, consolidating, filing bankruptcy and closing branches was the order of the day throughout 2008 as literally thousands of real estate brokerage companies went out of business. This included many independents as well as franchises from just about every major brand including Century 21, EXIT and RE/MAX. Also filing for bankruptcy is national franchise Help-U-Sell and Web 2.0 newcomers such as Igglo. 2009 may see even more brokers closing up shop than 2008.

8. Keeping It Short

Founded in 2006, Twitter moved into the mainstream this year as the next evolution in the social networking and micro-blogging environment. By using short text-based posts (affectionately named “tweets”), staying in touch has been given a whole new meaning.

9. ActiveRain Explodes Past 100,000 Members

As we discussed in last year’s report (Trend #1 – Two Worlds; One Industry) ActiveRain has moved to the head of the social networking line in the real estate industry. With as many as 35,000 users logged on at the same time, no one else has even come close to reaching that many Realtors® at one time. It goes without saying that ActiveRain has proven that social networking has made a home in real estate.

10. NAR Celebrates 100 Years

In May 1908, 120 men gathered in Chicago with the goal to “unite the real estate men of America.” Today the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is America’s largest trade association representing more than 1.2 million members. For 100 years, NAR and its members have established homeownership as a cornerstone of the American Dream.

Nobody should be allowed to make any important business decision without reading this amazing report first!

For more information on the 2009 edition of the Swanepoel TRENDS Report visit This annual Report of approximately 170 pages is authored by Stefan Swanepoel and is widely recognized as the most comprehensive report analyzing trends in real estate.

Here is what industry leaders have to say about the Swanepoel Trends Report:

“… industry’s premier report …”
Lennox Scott, CEO John L Scott Real Estate

“… truly understands the vast ecosystem of residential real estate… ”
Stephen Roney, CEO MarketLinx

“… primary external source document for our strategic planning… ”
John Beardon, CEO GMAC Real Estate

“… best single-source reference available… ”
Mark Palmero L’Boe, CEO, Compass Realty Systems

” …your insight into the real estate market is legendary and well deserved… ”
Paul J. Wells, Broker Owner, RE/MAX Northern Illinois

The Holiday Season

As we enter the holiday season this year, we are all experiencing the effects of a very challenged economy. The good news we can build on is the knowledge that there is commitment to and a unified effort by all parties to address the challenges in our country and around the world. As we look forward to opportunities to address in 2009, all of us at Charles Rutenberg Realty would like to wish you and your family the best for the holidays.