A lot of people have been asking me how business is with the virus-that-shall-not-be-named looming over the world.

There’s an interesting answer to this question, and one I wouldn’t have expected. First, some history.

I started working for a Land Developer in Maryland in 2001. He was a crazy man but it was an awesome experience where my love of real estate seeded and bloomed. That man put me through a lot of crap, my phone never stopped ringing and I was always on one of his wild goose chases to get something done. Case in point, that time he slapped my name across a billboard in Stafford Virginia, right off the highway.

FBI buildings are now built on this land.

FBI buildings are now built on this land.

I went on from there to work for two national builders. Then 2007 came and the phones slowly stopped ringing until the day we went out of business. I had to figure out how to stay in an industry I loved and keep moving ahead. I’ll spare you the side-step I took to work in Property Management, where I learned that if you ever need to find the most amount of addicts and personality disorders in one room that isn’t a rehab clinic – go to a Property Management Company.

Running my own business is awesome. Having direct contact with my clients is awesome. Making my own decisions about my business – also awesome. I’ve lived through a downturn due to artificially low interest rates, inflated values and predatory lending. I know how to get through tough times. Granted I never anticipated a health pandemic but I’ve been preparing nonetheless.

What did my preparation entail? Nothing special. Here it is:

  1. Don’t spend all the money you make.
  2. Don’t be self-serving with clients to get them to closing.
  3. Love what you do because of how it makes you feel, not what it does to your bank account.

That second one is not hard. Really. Don’t be a piece of shit and the rest will fall into place. The third one is really hard for a lot of people in real estate, unfortunately. A lot of people left the real estate industry when the money dried up in the last downturn. I’m fine with history repeating itself on this, as are all of my other real estate friends. It’s important to cull the herd. There are too many out there who are not making a difference in people’s lives. They need to go, and this is a great time for them to exit, stage left.

I’m an avid crossword puzzle fan as well as other puzzles like the standard jigsaw puzzle or various apps based on “finding the right” whatever it is. I realized several years ago that this is why I love real estate so much. It’s a constant puzzle, finding the right house for the client. You can feel it when it’s not right. Often I tell people “this isn’t the house.” They appreciate that reassurance as they struggle to talk themselves into something that isn’t right.

I am still working. I am still busy. The real estate market has stripped itself down to just the buyers (with job security) who need to buy and sellers who need to sell. An agent told me this morning the old “Well they don’t have to sell it, they could sit on it and rent it.”

Yeah, but they won’t. They’ve had it on the market for over a month, paying for staging and carrying the mortgage. They aren’t interested in renting or they would be seeking a renter right now.

Overall for the DC market, anything that was overpriced is getting a hard-pass from buyers. But houses that show well and are priced well are still selling despite the world shutdown. In many ways, it’s business as usual for those of us who are willing and able to work and who see this as an opportunity to continue helping people.

Next post I’ll go broader and discuss what a Pandemic does to the industry as a whole. Let me know if you have questions.

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