Every REO (real estate owned) agent in the country has something in common. Whether they’ve been in the REO space forever or jumped in during the foreclosure crisis, they are wondering if they are going to have a seat when the music stops.

The space got crowded, but now we are entering a healthier market, and there just isn’t room for everyone in the new normal.

I spoke to a great audience of REO brokers not long ago at the National REO Brokers Association conference and was very enthused about their response to the information I am about to share.

Many people think that the era of institutional real estate is new. When Blackstone entered the space in 2012 and led the way for a new breed of mega investor, it was something totally new.

But was it? Haven’t institutions been in this industry for decades?

A bank is an institution. A bank with a ton of REOs is an institution that owns a portfolio of real estate they never wanted and must liquidate.

So they require a field operation to value, maintain, market and sell each unit. The new institutional players are different, but the same in some ways.

They are big corporations that have a pot of money and an empty portfolio. They need a field operation to find, package, value and acquire homes to fill it up.

It’s like a typical household appliance many of us have in the garage — the leaf blower. Throw the switch and it expels air. Throw the switch the other way and it vacuums the air. Lenders expel. Investors vacuum.

If you are an agent, brokerage manager, attorney, appraiser or anyone else who’s played a role in the REO workflow, we have a place for you in the industry that serves institutional investors. The runway doesn’t have to end at a brick wall. You don’t have to go back to the kitchen table and audition for listings.

Learn the trade. Adopt the vernacular. Hang your shingle. We are only in the second inning. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what they are talking about.

Greg Rand is CEO of OwnAmerica, a national network of real estate brokerage companies, which provide the technology, training and marketing systems to real estate brokerages that pursue the single-family investment sector. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

Email Greg Rand.

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