In the 9 years that I’ve been selling real estate, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve gone from seeing people make $100,000 in one day, just by signing their name, to seeing those same people go bankrupt. All within a matter of 3 years.
It doesn’t seem too long ago that Naples, Florida was the place that everyone wanted to buy real estate. We were named, “The Best Beach in the Country” by the Travel Channel, featured in numerous articles and tv shows and were attracting the wealthiest people in the world. Living in Naples was a status symbol. It was hot, sexy and rich. Businesses were booming and everyone was making more money than they could spend.
Buyers were wooed by their Realtors picking them up in them in their Porsches or Bentleys, and the thought of being a property “flipper” made the average Joe feel like he was Donald Trump. I once had three clients in their early twenties come down to buy 2 properties – they had just finished reading one of Trump’s books and were referring to it as we went through the process. They split the two properties three ways, and I’m sad to say they are in the midst of foreclosing on both of them. Those boys had the best intentions, but probably shouldn’t of qualified for a Kia Rio at the time.
What an exciting couple of years it was! Within 4 years, I went from being a fitness instructor making $75k a year to a millionaire with 5 properties. It was crazy, I remember being so busy that I would forget about $15,000, $20,000 paychecks I had. Those were the days! We were young, rich and sexy! And we thought they were going to last forever! Or at least a little longer than it did.
There’s no question we were order takers. Anyone with a telephone and car could get their license and make a fortune. There were no skills required. Heck, many of the Realtors didn’t even know how to fill out the sales contract! Seriously, if there’s just one skill to learn, learn how to fill out the sales contract!
It’s unfortunate that most Realtors don’t treat their business like a business. Would you open up a Subway or start any other business with NO training? NO! Well, maybe you could, but I doubt you’d be in business longer than 6 months.
I remember one Realtor who sold one of my listings and let her client (who was not a licensed contractor) climb on the roof to inspect it. Hello? Can you say “liability!?” Thank goodness for her he didn’t slip and fall. Thank goodness for me that I didn’t know about it until after he was done and safely on the ground.
That’s not the best story though, not even close! Maybe tops on the list is the Realtor who was sound asleep on the couch of one of his open houses! Or no, maybe the couple who were doing a little “extra curricular” activities on the counter at a vacant house. I could go on and on….
So, fast forward to today. A large percentage of Realtors are not only out of the business, but are driving taxis, (we kind of already did that anyway), waitressing or doing odd jobs. Those homeowners that took equity out of their houses to go on trips or buy a Mercedes are now calling me to tell me to call them back today because their phone could be shut off tomorrow.
Of course I feel terrible and don’t wish anyone anything but success, but it was kind of something that we knew was inevitable. I remember sitting at a “lottery” to buy a house. Yes, you had to enter your name in a lottery to buy a home. And let me tell you, when people heard their name, you would of thought they actually won the real lottery! If only we knew then what we know now, “Hey, Buddy, what you really won is the right to pay $366,000 for a home that will be worth $230,000 in 3 years!” Congratulations!!
So, now, here we are in Naples; it’s still one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, it still has a lot of wealthy people, but it’s not feeling too hot and sexy for a lot of people. It’s a disappointment to see so many people fall on such hard times, especially after they were living like rock stars for a couple of years. But let’s hope this lesson is one that we can all learn from and use it to grow an even larger amount of wealth.
Next time, when the markets come back up (and they will) and you start making money hand over fist, maybe you shouldn’t go buy a Porsche or 3 investment properties in one year. Save first, invest, pay your taxes and THEN have some fun!
And their are plenty of Realtors still making great money. I sold 8 houses in 8 weeks in the middle of summer, which is one of the slowest times in Naples. It can be done, but you need to sharpen you skills. You need to go to continuing education classes, seminars and get some designations. No matter how bad the market is, there will always be people that need to buy or sell real estate and they will need a highly trained agent. Make yourself valuable – invest in improving yourself and your skills.
Let’s be thankful that we learned this lesson and hopefully we’re at an age that we can use it to our advantage for the future. Naples attracts celebrities, CEO’s and professional athletes. The people that can live anywhere in the world choose to live in Naples. So far in 2008, 462 homes have sold that are over $1,000,000 – 29 of those have been over $5,000,000. It’s still going strong and will continue to be one of the best places in the world to live. As far as I’m concerned, “sexy” never really left Naples.