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For San Diego area REALTOR® Daniel Di Matteo, the coronavirus pandemic should serve as a financial wake-up call for everyone.

“Everyone needs to re-evaluate their expenses and really plan. Nobody would have foreseen a rainy day such as this,” says Di Matteo. “What I would try to encourage others to do is to always focus on the future. You do what you need to do today. Make sure your family has what they need in this moment. But you can’t stop there. There will be tomorrow. What have you done to better your situation?”

Di Matteo speaks from experience. When the housing crisis of 2008 – 2009 began, he found himself earning just $20,000 in one year.

“We were expecting our first daughter. We used credit cards to pay for necessities. Having debt was not a comfortable position for me,” Di Matteo says, adding that he responded by “working much more than I was before.”

“I wasn’t going to just give up,” he explains. “Since then, the habits of digging deeper and doing more than you’re accustomed to just snowballed. You start seeing the fruits of those actions.”

His steady and consistent approach to rebuilding his cash reserves dovetails with the advice many experts offer REALTORS® on weathering the current climate.

“For independent contractors or small business owners, at times when income activity is likely being affected, in my opinion, they should rely on the adage ‘cash is king,'” says Nicole T. Cole, MBA, wealth advisor for Colonial River Wealth Management.

Cole offers that one way REALTORS® can weather the economic climate is to assess their current “active contracts” or business in motion and determine which clients are ready to move forward.

“Ultimately, REALTORS® want to get focused on contracts that want to move forward. Close them as quickly as possible and hold their cash,” Cole explains.

Another financial expert, Ryan Losi, CPA, and executive vice president of Piascik, adds, “I am a strong believer in always having access to cash to cover three to six months of operational-expense shortfalls, whether it be in your business or personal life.”

REALTORS® seeking financial wellness resources during this time should be sure to access The Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness online portal at FinancialWellness.realtor. This online resource was designed exclusively to meet the specific financial planning needs of REALTORS®. You can practice financial decision-making skills, assess your current financial profile and access a robust library, covering topics such as business planning, tax prep, budgeting, real estate investing, retirement planning and more.

To broadly address REALTORS®’ needs and concerns during the coronavirus crisis, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has also re-launched the “Right Tools, Right Now” initiative, which was first launched in 2009 in response to the global financial crisis. In addition to including webinars on managing finances, Right Tools, Right Now also includes education courses for REALTORS® wanting to expand their skills and timely market reports to inform businesses.

Di Matteo, who weathered the last financial crisis, encourages new real estate professionals to hang on. “For those who never experienced times of trial, I would say you need to adapt. You need to take the initiative right now to not just survive. You have to embrace this as the new normal. Consumers out there need us, even right now.”

Janelle Brevard is chief storyteller for the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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