"Pollyanna!" "Inman should fire you!" "You give the business a bad name!" What have I done to merit these comments? I’ve had the audacity to say that the real estate market might actually be better in 2009 than many people anticipate.
This year I’ve seen many good friends lose their jobs, their offices and/or their companies. Everyone has scaled back. Companies are scrambling to weather the storm. Many agents are being forced out of the business or into second jobs to make ends meet. Our clients are scared to buy or unable to sell. The stock market is in a shambles. There’s no reason for optimism, right?
As I have traveled across the country and spoken to real estate professionals in all aspects of the business, I keep hearing comments like these:
- "Last year at this time, my office had only 10 closed transactions. This month we closed 40. Sure, they’re mostly REOs (bank-owned properties) and foreclosures, but those inventories are shrinking rapidly."
- "I know most people are struggling right now, but I’m having a terrific year. I’m going to ride the REO/foreclosure train as far as it will carry me."
- "My son bought a house that he paid $300,000 for and then the market crashed. He did everything he could to keep it, including depleting all of his savings. He fell behind 45 days and was contacted by his lender. The lender told him that they would reappraise his property (it’s worth $200,000) and give him an 80 percent loan in exchange for a 50 percent equity share when he sells the property. He is thrilled to be able to keep his home!"
- "I actually funded a zero-down loan last week. I didn’t think it was possible, but we did it!"
And the ultimate surprise in a recent New York Times article, "Maybe It’s Time to Buy that First House":
- "Five or 10 years from now, when the financial crisis has ended and housing prices are up smartly once more, we will look in the rearview mirror and realize that we missed a golden age for first-time home buyers. Then, everyone who sat on their down-payment savings accounts for a few years too long will kick themselves for not taking advantage of what may turn out to be the buying opportunity of a lifetime for those who can qualify for a mortgage."
Each of these statements represent hope for 2009 — plenty of opportunities for qualified buyers; a declining REO/foreclosure inventory; an increase in the availability of credit making it easier for people to purchase; and families getting loan workouts that not only let them stay in their homes but preserve their neighborhoods as well.
No matter what the market does, there are always opportunities. People still relocate, get married, have children, etc. It saddens me to see so many people becoming "victims" of the market. Our clients do not want to work with someone who is angry or depressed. Instead, they want someone who has the professional skills and a "take-charge-and-get-it-done" attitude.
Being an angry or pessimistic "victim" of today’s market can carry a cost. If you focus on negative events, that negativity can spiral into more negative events. Psychologists call this a self-fulfilling prophecy — what we expect to happen can steer actions toward making that prediction a reality.
Likewise, self-fulfilling prophecies — in the form of bias — can influence the interpretation of scientific research. Researchers who expect an outcome may interpret results to support their expectations, for examples.
Several studies have explored connections between optimism and overall health and longevity, and whether positive thinking may be a contributor to wellness.
What can you do to increase your level of optimism? First, many events our beyond our control, such as terrorist attacks, the financial meltdown, natural disasters, loss of loved ones, etc. What we can control is our response to those events. When we experience a loss, we can wallow in our anger, fear or sadness, or we can look back at both the good and the bad in the situation, identify what we have learned, and then formulate at least one action step to take now to move beyond the situation.
The burning issue is what will you choose for yourself in 2009 — anger, fear, pessimism? Or will you choose an attitude that searches for opportunity in the challenges you face and is optimistic about better times ahead?
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters" and "Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?" Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at LuxuryClues.com.
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