WSJ Digs Deeper into Lereah's Past
Ina recent article the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) builds upon a recent short interview with Money Magzine in which Lereah admits that 'I spun.' The WSJ article is titled Realtors' Former Top Economist Says Don't Blame the Messenger. Here are some juicy excerpts:
Once one of the world's most-visible housing experts, Mr. Lereah is disconnected from his old life. The former chief economist for the National Association of Realtors says the group's top executives won't return his phone calls. He says he wasn't invited to the association's 100th birthday bash last MayOne of my theories is that Lereah was forced to resign from the Realtors' group back in 2007 as he had become fully discredited by that point. [ Mr. Lereah denies this. ]
Mr. Lereah, 55 years old, is one of many prognosticators who won professional accolades during the housing boom, only to see their reputations wither in the bust. Throughout 2005, when home prices in the U.S. hit their fifth consecutive annual record, Mr. Lereah was on television so often his wife, Wendy, would catch him by accident. He flew first-class to meetings and speeches in places like Hawaii and Aspen, Colo., staying in suites at expensive resorts. His bosses awarded him more responsibility. That year, he published his second book, "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?"It gets juicier.
Mr. Lereah continued to make rosy statements amid growing signs of a housing downturn -- like this declaration in January 2007: "It appears we have established a bottom." A few months later, NAR announced that existing-home sales fell 2.6% in April from a month earlier and 10.7% from a year earlier.
Mr. Lereah, who says he left NAR voluntarily, says he was pressured by executives to issue optimistic forecasts -- then was left to shoulder the blame when things went sour. "I was there for seven years doing everything they wanted me to," he said, looking out his window to his tree-filled yard in this Washington suburb.He was the paid shill of the National Association Realtors. The truth comes out.
Mr. Lereah admits to one mistake: believing there would be no national housing crash. "I have to take the blame for that," he says. "I never thought it would be as bad as this."