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An insider’s look at real estate, the economy

Op-ed by James Crumbaugh III

On a recent Sunday, I decided to forego watching football or going fishing. I even chose to ignore my “honey-do” list. Why? Because I wanted to get out and visit all the troops that were holding open houses in spite of all the negativity surrounding the $700 billion bailout.

When my wife asked me why I was going to spend my Sunday visiting open houses, I told her that when the day comes that a seasoned broker won’t go out and visit the troops in the trenches, that’s the day when that broker should no longer be a broker.

The purpose of my day of visiting open houses was to get a feel for how the Realtors who were holding these open houses felt about the real estate industry at this time in history and more importantly, how they felt about the massive $700 billion bailout.

For the most part, I think I can safely say that almost everyone agrees about the bailout. They hate it, but feel we have to do it. I also got the impression that almost everyone thinks that every man and woman in Congress should be thrown out of office, including both presidential candidates (at press time).

There are some really strong feelings out there right now. However, with all that I just shared with you, that’s not what hit home for me while I was out there visiting open houses.

I came away with such a feeling of respect and awe that it even surprised me. In hindsight, if I had stopped to think about what I discovered out there, I would not have been that surprised.

What was a slap across the head was who I discovered was holding the open houses. It was the pros-the top producers, the ladies and gentlemen who have been successful in real estate for years. Even though the traffic is light, they are out there scraping up all the buyers they can possibly find.

The average Realtor whom I spoke with has closed 30 transactions already this year (as of mid-October). Did you hear me? They have closed, on average, 30 sales this year.

Every day I hear from Realtors whining and crying and singing the blues about how they haven’t had any sales or maybe just a few this year, and you know what? I didn’t come across any of them holding open houses.
I’ve always said that 10% of the Realtors do 90% of the business, and if that Sunday didn’t drive that point home with a sledgehammer, I don’t know what will.

I know most of the Realtors in my area and I know who the pros are. I was just a bit surprised when open house after open house was being conducted by them.

Guess what else I saw that day? I saw three different buyers come into open houses while I was out there visiting them.

The real estate industry may be a little beat-up right now but it will come back-and when it does, the pros will be out there at the head of the line. RE

James A. Crumbaugh III is the CEO of Allison James Estates & Homes.