This Too Shall Pass

In all my years in real estate, coaching agents, writing for Inman.com and speaking before crowds of Realtors, I never thought I’d be advising people on how to handle a pandemic. Yet here we are, in what has to be the most unique and polarizing experience any of us could expect in our real estate careers. I have been through a similar chaotic moment that also effected the industry and I’m happy to report that I tripled my income during it.

And if I can do it, so can you. I say that because I didn't have some special skill in real estate or marketing. I had less tools than you do. No social media and Zillow was relatively a new thing.

In 2008, the subprime loan catastrophe took the thriving housing market to a screeching halt. This was the siren call to Realtors that the housing bubble has popped and thusly, so were our careers. The response was panic, followed by anger and ending with roughly 20% of agents leaving the industry. By all accounts, I should have been one of them.

In NYC, making $60K per year is considered poverty level. This was my income for three years leading up to the sub-prime meltdown. Based on my calculations, I had two months before the landlord would consider evicting me. At the time, I had an immaculate record of paying rent on time as well as a debt free history. This new reality ushered in the potential of ending my career early and potentially moving in with my parents. For weeks I panicked over the possibility of coming home to an eviction notice.

Agents ask me how I pulled myself out of this rut. How did I go from near eviction to selling $30M in property for two years consecutively and then moving to the Bahamas to sell luxury homes to the mega-wealthy? Then they understandably expect me to share an amazing system involving phone calls or personal notes. The answer baffles them…

It was my mindset. I decided to dig my heels in and focused on the SUCCESS that was ahead of me instead of freaking out about the situation I was currently in.

In the wake of this current viral calamity, agents are confronted with similar fears to my own. the fear of a sales-free-summer and failing economy. Everyone is feeling uncertain regarding what's to come so they're on the answer to the age old question...what does the future hold.

If you want to know what the future holds, take a moment to evaluate your present. Where is your head now? Is it in the sand and waiting for the market to tell you what to do next? Are you anxiously reaching out to your clients and rushing them to the next stage of the deal unnecessarily? Are you stepping up to the challenges or searching for the escape hatch?

Here’s the thing, the feelings that are triggering people in this current landscape are partially influenced by what they’ve experienced in the past. An agent concerned about catching the virus might have experienced an event where their health slowed them down or got in the way of a deal. Their wealth was effected by their health. The feelings they felt back then are revisiting them. This increases their stress, forcing them out of abundance and into scarcity, which effects their ability to attract buyers and sellers. This is how 20% agents left the New York market in 2008.

So how do you keep calm while in the chaos? First identify with your trigger. Notice if you’re feeling anxious or lacking stability. Ask why this is effecting you this way while also noticing other agents might not be triggered by the same topic.

This means the anxiety/fear is personal to your experience. Then process the past event by looking at it from a new perspective and now recognize you survived it. This minimizes the thing that might be triggering you.

I connected my triggered fear of eviction during the 2008 crash to the day my parents put a For Sale By Owner sign on our front lawn when I was thirteen. Something in my gut told me they didn’t want to leave but we couldn’t afford to stay. The sign sat for weeks. Realtors visited us in hopes of getting the listing. My parents quietly sat through dinner while masking their remorse from their children. The quiet anxiety swept over the family while we all ignored the elephant on the front lawn. This trigger revisited me when I felt like I was close to eviction. That same anxiety I felt back then was creeping into my daily experience.

When I recognized it was happening, I had a clearer frame of reference. I then remembered that ultimately we didn’t sell the house. One day the sign was gone. Somehow my parents found a way to pull themselves out of a dire financial situation and thankfully, it never returned. But that doesn’t mean the trigger was gone. Our triggers are tied to an event and even though you can put an event in your past, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Same as my parents, people have the powerful ability to find their way and pass through the obstacles. Notice how the challenges of your past are now a distant memory? Maybe a friend said “This too will pass” (you wanted to kick them in the shin at the time) and then their prediction came true. The conflict eventually did pass and today you don’t even remember it happened. That’s what happened to me. When I hosted a contract signing on a yacht in 2013, I had completely forgotten the time when I was crying myself to sleep nightly in 2008.

The best you can do right now is practice your comfort with the unknown. You didn’t know what was to come before this happened and creating an ugly story based on this viral curveball is not the place you want to bury your career. To increase your happiness through this stressful time, focus on the abundance of love and kindness that’s still available to you. Take care of you first because, after all, both happiness and unhappiness are infectious.

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