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​​​​A SUCCESS GUIDE 

for real estate lenders, real estate agents and those who would like to learn about the professions.

JAMES R. CARTER

Economic cycles notwithstanding, keep your head down and keep working; you can do business in any market. It’s an attitude as well as reality. The world is falling apart; people are still buying and selling real estate and borrowing money. Everyone is apparently getting rich in an upward cycle; people are buying, selling, and borrowing. You can succeed and excel in any market.
 
When I started in real estate brokerage, inventory was beyond tight. There were fifteen buyers for every house. I was too young and dumb and scared to care; I kept my head down and worked liked crazy. I could hear it all around me, in the bathroom, in the break room, in the hallways, and in the parking lot. “Wow, this is a tough market; if you don’t have a listing, you’re dead.” It was like water off a duck’s back. I just put my head down and worked like a dog.
 
I started in loans in a challenging market as well; the refinance boom was almost over, and rates were on their way back up a few months into my career. Transaction volume dropped so much so that my own office closed about a year into my real estate career. I just kept my head down and worked. What, was I going to go back to my wife and say, “Sorry I couldn’t pay the bills, rates went up.” Regardless of the current economic cycle, there are going to be a number of transactions that are completed on a monthly basis. Be determined and committed to be part of those deals. “I will be successful this month. I will achieve my goal of completing ten loans.” I would say that to myself over and over again. It’s an attitude. Take a position of stubborn determination and drive hard when the economy goes sideways.
 
So there are one thousand deals trading this month versus two thousand. Be part of those one thousand. “I will complete ten deals this month.” Don’t focus on the lack thereof; focus on the abundance of the thousand deals that are going down. Your competition will be focusing on the lack thereof; take advantage of that moment, keep your head down, and thrive.
 
A boom market. To be honest, I never liked working in a bubble economy or frenzied market. I would take a moderate to slow economy any day of the week. A slow economy for me is akin to a cold winter where everyone is tucked in his or her home, not knowing what to do, but there are a few warriors out there, freezing, working, hunting—but thriving. I loved the downturns because the competition was not working in general; the pros in the industry, however, were working while everyone was sleeping. Your competition will go from working eight hour days to moaning and groaning for six hours and working for two. Keep your head down, work eight-hour days, and thrive.
 
Bubble markets attract everyone and his or her brother to this industry. So the unit volume will jump (a little), but a large part of that volume will be absorbed by the spike of new people to the industry. New people to the real estate industry is good, but the wrong people are bad. What do I mean? The opportunists are bad for the industry. What is an opportunist? Someone who jumps from this industry to that industry based on how that industry is doing at that moment, spending a few months here and a few months there. There is so much to know and learn in this industry that too many opportunists all at once have a tendency to erode the reputation and quality of service in that industry. This is particularly true in real estate, where any Tom, Dick, or Carol that has a license can jump in and start doing business. The barriers to entry—well, there really are none. The gate is wide open to anyone that wants to come to the party. The opportunists will jump in with both feet in a bubble and will leave as soon as the bubble bursts.
 
Your business will grow in small, progressive steps. Two steps forward, one back. Every year or two, you’ll go through a growing phase. Your business will become a little bigger, a little stronger, a little faster. The foundation will get a little wider and deeper. If you are working hard daily, doing the things that you need to do, it’s just the way your business will grow. It’s called normal. Economic downturns, however, are the times to make larger-than-normal gains. For instance, let’s say you are in year number four of your career, and during that year your business moved from a four to a five on a scale of one to ten. During that same period, however, and given an economic downturn, you can move from four to six. Press on through an economic downturn and you will come out the other side exponentially stronger than your competition. The key is, keep your head down and work like a dog when you see the economy going sideways.
 
My dad’s real estate partner says: “During a down cycle, be prepared to hunker down.” He bought over twenty condos in Southern California in the most recent downturn. In a downturn, all those folks that jumped in to make a quick buck in lending or brokerage will leave. The ones that jumped in and are committed to the industry, help them and mentor them. But aside from that new group that is really committed to the industry, everyone will leave. You’ll be left with roughly the same team that you started with in the office, in addition to some tough new warriors to the industry that were able to fight their way through.
 
Socrates said, “Remember, there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore, avoid undue elation in prosperity or undue depression in adversity.” Pour it on when the economy goes sideways.
 
Go get ’em!


When things are steep, remember to stay level-headed.

Horace

Chapter 85 - Make Economic Cycles Your Friend