An apology to my son for being a parent who rents…

I am sorry, my love, that you just learned that your mom and dad didn’t do right by you.  I am sorry that you are now equipped with some facts which I can’t disprove, all of which paint a rather bleak picture of your life when compared to some of your friends.  That you now will look at yourself as less than any kid whose parents did the right thing and purchased a home, instead of renting one.

The little girl on that NAR TV commercial is always going to be the shining example of all the things you don’t have, and all the things you’ll never be, and they have the academic research to prove it.  You’ll do worse on your SATs, when it’s time for college applications, and because of that, you’ll go to a lesser school than your friends next door.  You won’t be as healthy as any of the kids whose parents own the place they call home.  And of course your parents won’t ever feel connected to the community they live in or give a crap about its politics.  You know that last bit of course isn’t true, as you’ve seen us fight for all sorts of causes over the years, but I’ve nothing in a way of facts to show you that all the other stuff they said about you and us isn’t true either.

The commercial spot is below. It may take a second or two to load:

The NAR has a 16-page document outlining all the positives of home-ownership (and, inevitably, all the negatives of renting), drafted by a bunch of people with important sounding names and positions, where they quote from important sounding books by various economists and sociologists.  And they condensed all that research into the 30-second TV spot to appeal directly to you, the kids of parents who rent.  You are the one who is being addressed, and I have nothing to counter any of it with.

So I will simply apologize for choosing to pay my rent to a man I happen to know who owns this house instead of to a large anonymous entity called a bank.  I’ll apologize, too, for not being one of many people in Flagler who owe at least twice on the homes they own than what they could sell them for, or the thousands who have lost their homes to foreclosure.  The NAR would like you to believe that your dad and I should have made a different choice.  That we should have anchored our collective destinies to a specific quarter acre lot and a specific house for the next 30 years and maybe then passed it on to you as inheritance.  Of course the homes that they build here don’t tend to last 30 years, but that’s not important.  You are told that there is patriotism inherent in owning a home, because it’s just better for the neighborhoods, families, country.

“Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency”

We let you down, kiddo.  And according to that very same report, you’ll likely not own your home either, and so your kids will start out with the same disadvantages of the other kids of all the renters out there.  Less smart, less healthy, less capable, less happy.  Just less than the pretty white blonde thing enjoying her home and her white picket fence, and board games, and happy family times that inevitably come with it…

I am sorry.


For a well thought out piece by one of the sharpest minds in the business, see Marc Davison’s blog on the subject at 1000WattConsulting.

If you find yourself taking offense at the above TV commercial, currently running nationally and in prime time, take the time to contact the NAR and voice your opinions.  So far, outcries and complaints from Realtors, whose brand NAR is representing to the general public, hasn’t resulted in even an acknowledgement that the ad was a mistake.  Maybe hearing from the consumers they were trying to target in the first place might make a difference.

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4 Responses to An apology to my son for being a parent who rents…
  1. Catherine Myers
    August 18, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    Absolutely excellent post Inna. You’ve inspired to write my own feelings on my site. Being at the ‘front lines’ of this market collapse and seeing so many families lose their homes, lose everything in fact, but remain intact… it’s been heartwarming. In fact, some families find later that renting was even better, half the cost of their mortgages, sometimes even better schools, neighborhoods they wished they could’ve been in but couldn’t afford to buy, they now feel they have best of both worlds. NAR has kicked some very nice families right in the teeth with this. I hope they re-think this ill-conceived campaign.

    • Inna Hardison
      August 18, 2012 | 2:27 pm

      Catherine – from the various NAR responses to the criticisms of this ad so far, I doubt they’ll rethink anything. They seem to feel totally justified in what they did (coz they got that nifty research to prove it), and they could give less than a crap about how people (realtors and consumers) feel about it. Icky all around.

  2. Inna Hardison
    August 18, 2012 | 2:22 pm

    Frances – I guess if one must look for the silver lining, this might just be it, but I am still far too disgusted with everything stated (and implied) by this advertisement to see beyond it.

  3. Frances Flynn Thorsen
    August 18, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    Bravo! Excellent post that gets right to the heart of the matter. NAR’s pubic advocacy campaign unites agents in the trenches who oppose inflammatory messaging.

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