Guy Gal spoke out last week about the challenges of 2023 and the way agents can avoid falling prey to negativity even during tough times.

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Side CEO Guy Gal watched as the market turned over the last couple of years, and as the real estate industry “leaned into scarcity.”

He “saw a world and an industry that was really feeding and preying on that, that was encouraging us to lean more into our negativity,” Gal said last week at his company’s Side x Side conference in San Diego, for brokers using Side’s technology solutions. Inman reviewed video of the speech this week.

Gal went on to compare 2023 to 2008, and noted that today there are more agents in the industry — many of them working part time and potentially giving consumers a bad impression of the profession. His point was that 2023 was a tough, competitive and painful time. But Gal ultimately didn’t spend the entire year in a funk.

“When I found myself in that place,” he said to the audience, “I looked to this community and it lifted me out of it.”

Gal’s point was that in tough times, it’s essential for real estate professionals to maintain a positive attitude.

“When we do nothing more than maintain a positive outlook, positive things happen,” Gal argued. “That is what today I recognize matters most.”

Moments later, Gal conceded that remaining positive can be challenging. But he then returned to the idea of community, suggesting negativity comes easy when a person stands alone, while positivity is the natural outcome of participating in an uplifting community.

“Together in a community, it’s impossible not to maintain that energy,” he said of staying upbeat.

Side CEO Guy Gal at his company’s Side x Side gathering last week. Credit: Side

Gal’s comments were made to Side’s partners — brokers who maintain their own brands and business identities while leaning on Side for things like back-office support and technology.

But the comments also come after a year that was not only tough for real estate sales but also saw the real estate industry assailed on multiple other fronts.

Most notably, a series of commission lawsuits are seeking to upend the way agents get paid. The earliest of these suits arose years ago, but in October, the highest profile case, known as Sitzer | Burnett, went to trial and resulted in defeat for the National Association of Realtors and several large franchisors.

Though the full implications of the case are still unclear, the episode epitomized the way the real estate industry suffered a bruising 2023 for reasons other than simply slower transactions and low inventory.

Gal didn’t dive into the commission cases during his speech Friday, but his advice about remaining positive and connecting with an uplifting community will likely appeal to industry professionals who feel beleaguered and exhausted after the last 12 months.

During the speech, Gal also argued that agents need not accept the limitations others might seek to impose on them.

“The only limits we have as individuals, and as a collective, as companies, as boutiques are ultimately, one, the ones we either accept from others or, two, the ones we choose for ourselves,” he said. “All too often, the limits we find ourselves believing in are the limits we accept from other people.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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