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Residential Department: Q&A: Paul Bishop, National Association of Realtors: September 2010


Q&A: Paul Bishop, National Association of Realtors

Paul Bishop, vice president, research, National Association of Realtors

Despite losing about 270,000 members since 2006, the National Association of Realtors remains the nation's largest trade organization with more than a million constituents — including about half of all U.S. real estate agents, which earn the Realtor designation. We asked Paul Bishop, the group's vice president of research, about the relationship between Realtors and mortgage brokers and what the association expects in coming months.

What's the first thing mortgage brokers should know about working with Realtors?

Realtors depend on being able to provide the best information and the best resources to their clients so they can sustain longer-term relationships based on referrals. They want to develop relationships with mortgage brokers, as well.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about current underwriting requirements. Mortgage brokers can assist Realtors in developing expertise [there] so Realtors can be better resources for their customers.

Is it in Realtors' interest to make sure regulators don't do away with the wholesale channel?

Yeah. I don't think there's any benefit to having mortgage brokers legislated out of the business. But it all goes back to what benefits consumers — having a transparent system in which consumers feel as if they're getting all of the information they need to make a decision about buying a home.

Home sales dipped dramatically earlier this year following the expiration of homebuyer tax credits. What will the effects of slow summer sales look like?

A softer summer market will mean the recovery in sales and prices may take longer than we would like. To the extent that the number of homes for sale increases faster than sales, we will see some downward pressure on prices that will prevent prices from rising too quickly. But a stable market isn't all bad. Stable prices mean that the wealth many people have in their homes will be preserved rather than eaten away if we were to enter another period of price declines.

How likely do you consider a double dip in the housing market?

We're not anticipating a double dip as far as looking ahead to the rest of 2010 and 2011. That's contingent on the economy moving forward, even if at a relatively mediocre pace. We think the tailwinds of higher affordability and favorable mortgage rates are probably going to keep us away from the double dip going forward.

When might home prices bounce back?

Home prices are going to be flat or maybe up and down over the next several quarters. Reasons for near-term volatility include the pace of the economic recovery, increases in homes for sale and shadow inventory.

Most economists expect the economic recovery to progress slowly in the next few quarters. As the housing market stabilizes, more sellers will put their homes on the market if they feel there are more buyers in the market.

Is there a historical comparison to today's market?

There really isn't. When you look at past business cycles, one of the things you often see is that real estate and homebuilding lead the economy out of recession. One of the things that's probably different in this cycle is that real estate and construction are at best going to track what's going on with the rest of the economy rather than lead it out of recession.


Darrick Meneken was an associate editor at Scotsman Guide. For questions on this article, call (800)297-6061 or e-mail

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