“This Too Shall Pass”


March 21 , 2020

“Should we hold our Cherry Hill real estate school class this month”

“Why would you cancel this month’s Robbinsville real estate class when your classroom is so big that students sit 8-10 feet apart?”

“Why are you holding your real estate school classes when we are not supposed to leave our homes?”

These are just three of the questions I heard—within one hour—one day last week. What to do about a simple real estate course is not so important when compared to the life-and-death situations our fellow citizens are facing. And while real estate has been a profession of which I am immeasurably proud, it is hardly an essential skill when compared to the doctors, nurses and public health workers on the front line of today’s Coronavirus crisis.

The Bigger Problem.

The bigger problem is how we train our minds during these times of germophobic everyday life where hugs and handshakes have been replaced with looks of terror if a stranger comes uncomfortably close to us. I was at a store yesterday where they had placed strips of colored tape, six feet apart, on the floor near the cash register. “Ma’am!” I heard a man call out loudly to the woman behind me. “You have stepped closer to me than your mark on the floor allows.”

If we are—often justifiably—scared of where we go, what we do and whom we meet, what does that portend for our plans for a 2020 that was going to be a great year as Realtors®?

People will still need Realtors®.

Way back in the idyllic days of January, when we may have thought “Corona virus” was something picked up when we shared a bottle of beer, here is who needed us as Realtors®:

  • People whose family was increasing and who needed to upsize.
  • People who had become empty-nesters and needed to downsize.
  • People whose job caused them to move in or out of our area.
  • People who were getting married.
  • People who were getting divorced.
  • People who had to sell the property of a loved one who had passed away.
  • Investors, from flippers to those whom we taught that rental properties offered more stability as an investment than the stock market.

What has changed? People will continue to marry, divorce, die, and invest in real estate in April just as they did in January.

Thank you, Zig.

The venerable Zig Ziglar was my mentor when I began public speaking. He was a man of boundless faith, intelligence and optimism. His down-home colloquialisms from his Mississippi and Texas background not only taught me how to become a better salesperson, but there is barely a day that passes that I still don’t think of one of them and use them to help me deal with a tough situation.

One of my favorite “Zigisms” is that sometimes, we “need to get a check-up from the neck-up.”

I use it in almost every real estate pre-licensing class when students tell me how terrible they are in math or how complex the course is and how they are sure to fail the final exam that day. We give them a little motivational talk, remind them how so much of success is directly related to mental attitude, and then I urge them to “Get a check-up from the neck-up” when they take our final exam.

And guess what? The vast majority turn in their papers and we find they scored way above the 70% passing grade. Hopefully they remember the advice when they take the state exam too. 85% of our graduates pass the state exam on their first attempt; the average from all real estate schools is 63%.

Thank you, Zig!

The Man Who Sold Hot Dogs

As much as I am normally a news junkie, I have now stopped keeping the news channel on whenever I am home or in my car. By all means get the true “breaking news” at the top of the hour, but then turn to something more positive. Do you realize how different your mental state is if you finish your drive or exercise time having listened to a podcast—or maybe even a Zig Ziglar audio book—than if you had listened to 60 minutes of reporting on the latest death rate in New Jersey?

As I contemplated my topic for this week’s blog, I remembered a story I cited in a newspaper article I wrote many years ago when interest rates were 14% and our sellers, buyers and industry colleagues were thinking they would never sell a house ever again. I called it, “The Man Who Sold Hot Dogs”:

There once was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.

He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio.

He had trouble seeing so he had no TV and read no newspapers.

But he sold really good hot dogs.

He put up signs on the side of the highway telling how good they were.

He stood by the side of the road and cried “Buy a hot dog, mister” and people bought…and bought often.

He increased his meat and rolls orders.

He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

He finally asked his son to come home from college to help him out.

But then something happened. His son said: “Father, haven’t you
been watching the news? There’s a big depression coming on!

The international state of affairs is terrible. The domestic situation is even worse!”

That made the father think: “Well, my son has been to college, he studies economics from some of the Ivy League’s most famous professors and he ought to know.”

So the father cut down on meat and roll orders, took down his advertising
signs and no longer bothered to stand on the side of the highway to sell his
hot dogs.

Sales plummeted overnight.

Pretty soon, the man cut back on his hours, and the trade was so poor that he ended up selling his stove and shutting down the whole operation.

“You’re right son,” the father said to the boy.  ”We certainly are in the middle of a great depression. There just isn’t any business. No one even comes by anymore. I’m so glad I sent you to college to teach me about business!”

So what to do?

This is the perfect time to revisit your 2020 goals and adjust your strategy for reaching them. With the time saved by not being out and about all day, there has never been a better time to reach out and stay in touch with your contacts. How do you think your past clients would react if they got a call from you saying, “I was thinking of you and just wanted to reach out and make sure you are OK.”

I remember being a Realtor® during the S & L crisis, the Dot Com meltdown, 9-11, and the 2008 market crash. They were tough times. Yet something strange happened. So many agents who “played” in our business thinking they could make easy money all quit. Some of my best sales years were during those times.

The quote “This too shall pass” is often attributed to the Bible. It does not come from the Bible. It is from Theravada Buddhism. However, the New Testament has a quote that seems perfect for our present times: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 emphasis is mine).

So whether you chose to awaken each new day taking hope from Buddhism or the Bible—or from Zig, who also urged us to get rid of our “Stinkin’ thinkin’,” my prayer is that you will stay safe, keep working smarter, and to look towards a future that I promise will be rosier than the present.

If you or somebody you know if thinking of earning their real estate license—or of stepping up to become a broker—we’d love to hear from you!

David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 31 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 450 homes in South Jersey.  He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 15 books. David can be reached at Support@GSREacademy.com

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