39 years of experience
Yes, that is a long time. And I have learned a lot from my experience. My husband likes to say, “Experience is what we call our mistakes, and I have a lot of experience.” I will soon start sounding like someone’s grandmother that has a lot of stories to tell and no one wants to listen but I will tell my tale any way.
I got my license as a real estate agent in Mission, Texas in 1976, back in the day. (For those of you that don’t know where Mission is located, look close to the Mexican border by Brownsville.) The first house I sold was for $25,000.00 and I was doing cartwheels in the front yard when it closed. I had been selling real estate and teaching at the same time and with the starting salary for teachers at $11,000.00 a year, I can tell you I was happy with my first commission check. I supplemented my teacher’s income with my sales commissions for about 4 years before I thought I was ready to go totally into sales.
In 1981, I got my broker’s license. I was hitting the big time. Ah, the 80’s, now that was an era to forget. Let’s see, interest rates at 14% to 18% with 6 to 7 points. We still sold houses though because people still needed to move.
The real estate market was hot in Austin so I decided to move to there. Ben Barnes and John Connally (the former governor of Texas) were selling real estate like hotcakes. The Savings and Loans were lending money to anyone with a pulse and fogged up a mirror. We were flipping properties like a short order cook at IHOP flips pancakes on the griddle. Life was grand! Then something started happening to the S&L’s. The last person to buy on a “flip” couldn’t sell so they started defaulting on their loans. The properties weren’t worth what the Appraisers had said that they were. (Some in the business referred to the appraiser’s MAI designation, as Made As Instructed) The cards started falling. Some fellow out in Arizona named Keiting started appearing in the news often. We were in a lot of trouble in Texas. There were 13 S&L’s in San Antonio, Texas alone and all 13 of them went insolvent.
I had to get a real job. I went back to teaching. My love affair with real estate was not over, just postponed. I moved to Dallas and alternated the teaching and the real estate again. I got a builder to list all of his 42 spec homes with me. He went out of business and the bank took them over. Then the bank went under and the FSLIC took them over. Then the FSLIC was bailed out by the Resolution Trust Corporation RTC. Each file for a sale for these 42 homes was 6” to 7” thick. The average sales price for these houses was $45,000.00. I was working night and day to get them closed but I finally did: All 42 of them!
The market was continuing to dive lower. Houses were not selling unless they were a foreclosed property. The appraisers were spanked mightily by the RTC and new legislation was implemented that put more controls on the appraisers so they only used foreclosed properties as their comparables when they appraised a house that sold.
Dallas was looking bleak. I was newly married and my husband wanted to move to Florida. Since I wasn’t making any money in Dallas, I could only see better possibilities for my real estate addiction there. Off we went to Tampa in 1991. Ah, the 90’s, now that was the era to remember! The market seemed stable but not overly inflated and the weather was great!
I went to work for several builders as a sales rep and then as the sales manager of a local company. I moved up the ladder and went to work for WCI Homes, one of the largest Residential home builders and developers in the Florida. Things were moving faster in the business so I thought that I would take a bigger risk and open up my own real estate company, FIRST in Real Estate. We won several awards from the Builder’s Association and I won Realtor of the Year in 2002. The market kept getting hotter and hotter in Florida.
There’s some kind of weird saying about history repeating itself. Well, all I can say now is the names and places are different but the story is about the same. Tampa’s market heated up, and EVERYONE considered themselves an investor. Although, I told enough people that there was a difference between an investor and a speculator, it fell on deaf ears.
The bottom fell out in Tampa in’07 and I moved back to Austin. My heart has always been in Texas any way so my story has a happy ending. The moral to the story is keep moving! The markets change but the essential elements of the business don’t. People have to move and they buy and sell houses all the time. At least you are not facing 14%-18% interest rates.
In the stock market, if you bought a stock high and it comes down, you buy it at the lower price to make up for the difference to even out. If you still believe in the product, you back it when it is up or down. It is a great time to buy real estate. If you have a house to sell first, consider renting it until the market comes back. Carnegie said that real estate made more people millionaires than any other industry. This is cyclical. So I tell my clients: Stay calm, the market will come back. Real Estate is kind of like a marriage, you stay through thick and thin. Good luck!