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Sometimes I wonder if the folks at the National Association of Realtors are actually trying set themselves up for future trouble.

First they released their so-called anti-bubble reports to demonstrate that “the facts simply do not support the possibility of a housing bust.” In addition to the usual poor analysis we have come to expect from this outfit, the San Diego edition contained a blatant falsehood that remains there to this day, despite the fact that I repeatedly notified NAR of its existence back in March.

Now, they are at it again with their new $40 million dollar ad campaign to let us know that “It’s a great time to buy or sell a home.”

This ad has already been properly assailed by assorted economic bloggers, so I won’t go into detail, despite the temptation to mock the suggestion that it is a “great” time to both buy and sell real estate.

But I just couldn’t resist drawing attention to NAR’s claims that “prices overall have stabilized” and that “the outlook is for home prices to increase next year.”

As an aside, whose outlook are they talking about? Is it “the outlook” according to NAR? Or another organization? Or the Sparkletts guy who was refilling the NAR marketing department cooler as this ad was being drafted? The answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

But the real point is this: after telling us earlier in the year that a housing bust was not even within the realm of possibility, NAR has now spent $40 million to ensure that everyone far and wide has heard their claim that prices will start heading up again. Perhaps NAR will generate a few extra home sales as a result, but what happens when the real estate bubble has truly burst and the angry masses are seeking a scapegoat, as they always do in the aftermath of speculative bubbles?

I think there’s a good chance that people will look first to the organization that, despite a lack of any credible supporting evidence, stridently called the bottom of the housing market in November 2006.

– RICH TOSCANO

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