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Commentary by Jose Perez, Jr.

RISMEDIA, Feb. 7, 2008-Mergers and acquisitions in a down market? It’s easier than you think. Record foreclosures. Record days on market. Record drops in transactions. Bad news is everywhere these days. But these same headlines could be good news for those willing to invest in a down market. There are three ways brokers can operate in this type of environment:

1) They can try to survive however they can, including going back into sales.

2) They can “hunker down” and ride out the storm by cutting expenses and squeezing whatever productivity they can from agents and managers.

3) They can capitalize on the fact that not everyone is in as strong a position as they are; there is an opportunity now to consolidate market share and come out of this trough stronger and more dominant than before they went in.

Jim Fite of CENTURY 21 Judge Fite in Dallas, Texas, is operating in the second and third categories simultaneously. While he is “hunkering down” and looking at every aspect of his profits and losses, he is also keeping an eye out for potential acquisitions. Having acquired 30+ companies in the past 15 years, Fite knows how important this can be to the growth of a company, particularly when the market is down.

“There are great opportunities right now for those who want to capitalize on the market and give companies in trouble an exit strategy-and a chance to save face,” says Fite.

As the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” In today’s environment, one must think quickly and act quicker; be creative and execute on those ideas; and, most importantly, be visible in the market talking to agents and brokers all the time. You never know who might be looking for the opportunity to merge with or sell to your company as a way to exit in a respectable and positive manner.

If you are in a position to look at acquisitions, keep this in mind: Your competitors have pride and ego regardless of what their current situation might be-treat them with the utmost respect in any conversation you may have with them.

A year or two from now, we will be talking about those real estate brokers who saw opportunity and acted. Many will have put themselves in much stronger positions than they were in prior to the current real estate downturn. RE Jose I. Perez, Jr. is the president of PCMS Consulting, a full-service consulting organization.

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