Here are some comments from RE/MAX International’s Chairman and Co-Founder Dave Liniger on today’s market and distressed properties.

As you read Dave’s comments, consider the following…
“it’s more important than ever to make sure your Sales Associates have updated their Web Roster pages with accurate, current information. Their profiles simply must include all of the relevant details about their skills, specialties, training and achievements.”

Behind the Scenes:
We're Hopeful for Short Sale Changes
RE/MAX International leaders are personally involved in a great deal of behind-the-scenes activity aimed at getting the U.S. housing market back on track. Some of the efforts are confidential. Some are long-term, with results likely to emerge many months after the fact. And some, unfortunately, fail to bear fruit. Whatever the case, we keep pushing forward with the plans and proposals we think make the most sense. On several levels, we're aggressively engaged in the process of finding solutions to the foreclosure problem. And after a meeting we had earlier this month -- September 9 in Washington, D.C. -- we're hopeful that some of our key suggestions may soon become part of public policy on Short Sales.

Impressive group
We met that day with three of the nation's top housing officials -- HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, FHA Commissioner David Stevens and Laurie Maggiano, Director of Policy for the Treasury Department's Office of Homeownership Preservation.These are three very sharp, very smart individuals. They understand the problem inside and out, and we were pleased that they agreed with many of our conclusions regarding Short Sales as a viable option for people who simply can't afford to stay in their homes.

They also agreed that the current Short Sale process is slow, inconsistent and problematic. David Stevens, who once was a key executive at Long & Foster, a major regional company and a good competitor of ours in the Washington, D.C., area, has experience from a real estate professional's perspective. He knows exactly how brutal the Short Sale landscape can be for consumers and agents alike.Obviously, the government's hands are tied to some degree in terms of telling banks what they have to do with legally binding mortgage agreements. But we're envisioning a program in which lenders, investors and second-lien holders are given greater incentive to accept Short Sales, streamline the process and reduce delays that lead to frustrating dead ends. Loan modification remains the top avenue for underwater borrowers, but when the numbers just don't work, a Short Sale is the next-best option for everyone involved. People need to know that.

We were encouraged by what we heard in Washington. And we fully expect that when a Treasury Department announcement is made in the next few weeks, it will have an immediate, substantial impact on the way lenders view and handle Short Sales.RE/MAX Associates who have prepared themselves will be well positioned to take advantage of this shift. Make no mistake: The Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) training we've endorsed and promoted throughout the year should pay off big for those who've earned the designation.

A long road there
Getting to the very top of the governmental mountain -- Secretary Donovan is in the President's Cabinet, after all -- involved many meetings along the way. Officials from entities such as the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac supported our ideas and helped us move through the channels. Eventually, in August, we had an interesting and productive personal session with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev), the Senate Majority Leader. He was so intrigued with our ideas that he set up the meeting with Secretary Donovan. RE/MAX International, like you, is out there in the trenches, working as hard as possible. We're doing all we can to affect public policy in ways that will have a positive impact on consumers, real estate professionals, lenders and communities. Long ago, we realized that Short Sales offered families a way to avoid foreclosure and its terrible tolls, both financial and emotional. We're glad to play a part in promoting the concept.

Getting REO business
Short Sales haven't been the sole focus of our behind-the-scenes discussions. We've also met with major lenders, the FDIC, the GSEs, loss mitigation companies and asset management firms in an effort to get REO properties into the hands of our Broker/Owners and Sales Associates. For obvious reasons, negotiations in these matters are kept confidential, but we're hoping that our efforts bring additional transactions into the network. In fact, to some extent, it's already happening. Our mission on this front is twofold. First, we're trying to help the nation avoid the mistakes made in the wake of the Savings and Loan crisis 20 years ago, when the government threw tens of thousands of properties onto the market and sold them for pennies on the dollar instead of going through established real estate channels.

Second, we're trying to deliver potential sales to our people. And to be frank, we have the best and most skilled sales force to manage the disposition of these properties. In fact, the quality of RE/MAX Sales Associates -- illustrated by their experience, production and designations -- gives us a distinct competitive edge.

We hope to have exciting news on this front very soon. In the meantime, it's more important than ever to make sure your Sales Associates have updated their Web Roster pages with accurate, current information. Their profiles simply must include all of the relevant details about their skills, specialties, training and achievements.

Looking up and ahead
As we've noted before, signs of recovery and renewal are emerging. We think we're seeing the bottom of the market, and the uptick in July 2009 sales over July 2008 was definitely a good thing. Although we expect a seasonal slowdown this winter -- and remain concerned about additional foreclosures tied to unemployment and Option ARM loans -- we're cautiously optimistic looking forward. What's more, we believe that most RE/MAX professionals have made the adjustments necessary to succeed even in these turbulent times. It's important for us as Broker/Owners and leaders to motivate and support our Sales Associates, and to help them spread the word to consumers that there's never been a better time to buy. That notion will become even truer if Short Sales are streamlined into a straightforward variation of a traditional transaction. We think it will happen sooner rather than later.

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