I've been through the desert in a Porsche with no name.

A recent Arizona Republic article caught my attention. “In real estate, agent scrambles to survive”

The article’s content was summed up in the second paragraph:

“As the entire Phoenix real estate industry remakes itself in pursuit of a recovery, agents who once sold 10 homes a week and earned six-figure salaries now tend foreclosure properties for little more than gas money while they hope for a listing.”

Grab your hankies, here are the Cliff Notes Version of the story:

A North Phoenix agent is very successful.  His market is luxury homes.  He makes lots of money selling these luxury homes.  The real estate market goes bust.  This luxury home specialist closes his office, lays off his assistants and moves his office into his living room.  A year ago he began pursuing bank foreclosure listings (REO’s) which are a lot more work for a lot less money.  He has banks that owe him money for property maintenance, he’s sitting open houses in homes with no air conditioning and he’s put 30,000 miles on his yellow Porsche servicing his REO listings.  Unfortunately, homeowners don’t like seeing a man in a yellow Porsche drive up to their home representing the bank who is evicting them.  So, the agent is thinking about selling his yellow Porsche.  Oh no! Say it isn’t so.

There were some bit players in the story as well.  Former agents who are now working at restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores and temp positions. 

It’s all so sad.  You can almost hear the violins playing.

Don’t get me wrong, my heart goes out to all agents…even agents driving yellow Porsches… who have lost their business in this economy.  And yes, we, as agents, are working harder than we ever have, for less than we were making a few years ago.  BUT there were 82,820 homes reported “sold” on the Arizona Rgional MLS between 9/1/2008 and 9/1/2009.  Somebody has to be selling those homes. What about those agents?

The article painted a pretty bleak picture of one by-product of our market decline.  But you should know there ARE agents who are not standing on the corner with a “will work for bagels” sign.  Contrary to the opening paragraph there are agents who are not “reinventing themselves”.  There are agents who are not only weathering the storm but may have even had their best year ever last year (yes, I did…no brag, just fact) without listing a single REO property.  Hellooooo…is anybody listening? (Is that an echo?) What about us?

Businessman in the DesertI, for one, am happy there are agents out there like yellow Porsche guy.  Agents who are willing to be (what appears to be) slaves to the banks…wearing sackcloth and ashes as they crawl through the desert from home to home, gasping for breath and hoping the bank will eventually pay them (at least that’s the picture I have in my head after reading the article).  Agents who are so busy running around for the banks that they may not have enough time for a regular buyer or seller.  I mean, they must be busy because many of the REO agents I’ve called are too busy to call me back…but don’t get me started.

I wonder what would happen if agents refused to jump through those hoops for the banks?  “What?  You want ME to cover the utilities while I try to sell your REO listing?”  “What?  You want me sit an open house in a house without air conditioning for 15 hours while temps top 115 degrees?”  How about a “just say NO” campaign?   Wonder what would happen if ALL agents said THAT to the banks? 

I’m a little worried about yellow Porsche guy.  It seems our market is changing and he may lose his REO niche on top of it all.  The AZ Republic article reported that 60% of all valley home sales are foreclosures.  True, they WERE.  My post yesterday shares some interesting figures about where our market seems to be heading and it appears the numbers on REO sales are falling

As for me?  I’ll continue doing what I’ve been doing in a hot market and in a not-so-hot market.  Maintaining a business built on consistency; no gimmicks, no riding the wave of the next best thing, and sorry, no yellow Porsche…it’s just not my color.

My business will continue to be built on honest to goodness, old fashioned relationships with people who call me when they’re buying or selling a home because they know I’ll take care of them, regardless of the price range. People who trust me enough to refer me to their friends and family; and when these people do call… I WILL answer my phone and give each one of them my undivided attention.  Yep, that seems to be working, no reinventing necessary.


  1. You are absolutely correct, many good agents are doing traditional real estate very succesfully even in todays market. I chose to do REO and I love it. That article paints a bleak picture as an REO agent but it is not what my business looks like. No open houses, no buyers, no emotional sellers. Yes REO work requires some skills like property management, contractor management and good cash flow handling skills but it is not bleak. It is high volume and lower margin but I grossed just under one million dollars last year selling 158 homes. The REO business will not dominate the real estate markets after 2012 but they will remain a steady business for a long time.

    As for the yellow porsche, he needs to sell it. It is very bad form to be driving around in a flashy car doing REO work. A good REO agent develops repore with the occupants of his properties by looking them in the eye and telling them the truth about the situation. Its kind of hard to look someone in the eye when their eye keeps going to your yellow porsche. It just sends the wrong message. Personally I think it sends the wrong message even if your client is looking for 5 million dollar homes too but thats just me. I prefer substance over flash.

  2. Congratulations, James! I KNEW there were agents like you out there! You sound like the consummate professional, which is no doubt the reason you are so successful. If you run your business like a business, it’s easier to succeed, right?

    Oh…and about that car. I’m with you. Might as well show up with a crown on your head.

    Thanks for shedding a ray of sunshine on all that gloom!