Pumping real estate just isn't any fun anymore

Proof that the housing boom is really, really over: The rah-rah chief economist for the National Association of Realtors is quitting his job.

Published May 1, 2007 12:10AM (EDT)

Did the housing bust just claim another victim? David Lereah, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, a man who has been mocked many times in How the World Works and elsewhere for his relentless optimism about the housing market, even as it was imploding all around him like a giant Florida sinkhole, is stepping down from his position. (Thanks to Calculated Risk for the tip.)

Naturally, I headed directly to DavidLereahWatch.com, hoping to score some juicy schadenfreude nuggets. I was not disappointed.

Soon, Mr. Lereah will be much less quoted in the mainstream press. Mr. Lereah's reign of half truths, manipulations and cheerleading will soon be over.

For more fun, there's a snarky kicker to the Reuters article that covered the news.

Blanche Evans, the editor of Realty Times, an online magazine for real estate professionals, said Lereah's outlook for the market is a reflection of his sunny disposition.

"That is part of his personality. He is one of the most bright and energetic people but that does not mean that he's a Pollyanna," said Evans, author of "Bubbles, Booms and Busts: Make Money in ANY Real Estate Market."

So where is the ever-optimistic economist headed? According to Reuters, Lereah is taking a "senior executive position" at Move Inc., an online real estate service.

Formerly known as Homestore.com, the company changed its name in early 2006, probably in an attempt to escape the lingering stench of having 11 former executives convicted of federal charges relating to a sheaf of offenses, including insider trading, fraud, filing false reports to the SEC and lying to auditors.

According to Fortune Magazine, the bulk of Move's current revenue comes from advertising on Realtor.com, the Web site it runs for the National Association of Realtors. So Lereah isn't going very far.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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