Just when I thought the worst was over … things got worse. Our local market started to tank in late 2006. I have worked through waves of foreclosures and short sales and survived.

Business has picked up; I have more listings; and those listings are getting offers. Sadly, I don’t have as many closings as I would like.

It looks like the worst isn’t really over, it just changed a little.

Two of the homes that I recently sold are back on the market this week. Even though the buyers think the homes are excellent values and the sellers accepted offers, the sales fell through because the homes did not appraise for as much as the buyers needed to borrow.

The buyers lack the cash to make up the difference, but the sellers are confident that another buyer will make an offer and that it will work out.

Two of my listings are in a building where FHA will not back a loan and buyers would have to come up with at least 40 percent down or maybe more to secure a conventional loan. The for-sale signs with my name on them look pretty standing on the corners, but I will probably need to remove them because nothing has sold in that building for a couple of years and I am out of for-sale signs and lockboxes.

There is a young couple that I have been working with for some time. We wrote an offer on a nice property, new construction and everything they wanted in a home. The offer was accepted and the closing date set.

Sadly they may be homeless for a few days or weeks. They have a VA loan and the VA has gotten very, very slow processing certain documents. It will close, but like most transactions these days it won’t be painless.

There is an old saying that no one makes any money until someone sells something.

So far I have been doing just fine on the sales part and it doesn’t look like I am going to run out of clients, but all of my sales need some kind of financing — and that puts each sale in jeopardy, and to a certain extent out of my control. …CONTINUED

Banks used to throw money around like crazy and now the pendulum has swung in the other direction. At first it was about the buyer and their credit worthiness. Now it is also about which properties they will finance and how much they will lend. Under the circumstances I understand their extreme caution.

It is hard to say how long this phase will last. To be honest, this time I am not excited about working through it. Homes sell faster, but selling them twice is a lot of work. My record is three times with one home in the same year before we had a sale that closed.

There is one thing I have learned and have learned well these past two or three years, and that is to remain detached — at least emotionally — from the outcome of any of the deals I have in the pipeline.

I used to have highs and lows and it was kind of like a roller-coaster ride. In the last year I have been riding on a flat but curvy road with few ups or downs. There isn’t much that I get excited about. It is my ability to stay on an even keel that keeps me from quitting.

Dealing with the emotions of the buyers and sellers has not been easy, but I find that if I can show some empathy and a little compassion without getting emotionally involved I can help them.

Working on 100 percent commission is not for everyone. If you are reading this and you work on a 100 percent commission basis and you paid your bills in August, give yourself a pat on the back.

It takes a special kind of person to work that way year in and year out, and most people can’t do it.

If you plan to ride this out and stay in business, learning how to become emotionally detached from outcomes helps. Know that your hard work will not always result in a paycheck, but that some of it will.

We can’t control everything and some days we can’t control anything, but we do have control over how we react.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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