This is not what I signed up for....
Way back in Elementary School, my expectation was that I would go to college and study to be a therapist. Some say that lots of crazy people go into the field to figure out what is going on with themselves. Hmmm... College came 5 years after High School (that's a whole other story) and it took me another 5 years to get a degree in Psychology while working full-time. It was pretty exciting when I got my first job/internship with the Fulton County Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center. I thought I was on my way to the career I had planned for since Elementary School. The reality of the situation was not at all what I expected. The failure rate of addiction treatment was huge compared to a very small success rate. I found out quickly that the chance that I could actually help someone was minuscule. All I could really do is listen, which left me seriously depressed. If the patient cried, I often cried too. I carried their pain home with me and it did not take me long to realize that the job was too hard on my own mental health.
In 1977 I got a real estate license on a lark. Part time I closed a few transactions and soon, real estate was in my blood. I could actually help people get what they wanted and if they came back, it was a success, not a failure. At closing, everyone was happy. The buyers got a house, the seller got a check, agents, loan officers and attorneys all got paid a fair fee for their work.
There is a "new normal" in real estate today and my job has changed so much that it now looks and feels more like my Therapist experience than my real estate experience of the first 30 years.
Today, buyers have to wait months to close a foreclosure or a short sale, both of which dominate the current real estate market. Sellers who have to move, because of the foreclosures and short sales in their neighborhoods, are bringing money to closing or negotiating a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure with their mortgage companies, which has a huge negative effect on their credit ratings. The fees for real estate agents, loan officers and attorneys have steadily decreased while expenses and the work involved have more than doubled. So rarely at closings today, is everyone happy. Often nobody is happy. Listing appointments today consist of telling sellers their homes are not worth what they paid and finding out if they are behind on their mortgage payments and if so, how much. It often feels like I am in my Psychologist mode rather than in my Sales Person mode. A lot has changed in the past few years. So many sellers are experiencing hardships that make it impossible to make the payments and are at risk of losing their homes. When I listen to some of them tell me their stories, I still want to cry and I still take their pain home with me
It does not look like things are going to improve any time soon. The news reports claim people are once again spending money so the economy must be recovering. I don't think so. Often, right after people have an accident or serious illness, they will drive more cautiously, quit smoking, eat right and exercise. Human nature is such that, over time, these same people will start falling back into their old habits.
My sense is that those spending money are just reverting to old spending habits that got them into trouble in the first place.
Foreclosures are moving steadily up in the higher price ranges. There are also many interest only loans that cannot be refinanced because the appraisals willl not support the loan amount they approved when the interest only loan was made. Because we have had historically low interest rates, those loans have remained manageable for many. Once the interest rate starts moving up, and it will, those interest only loans will start to adjust to higher interset rates and monthly payments, causing a whole new stream of foreclosures and short sales.
The job has changed. Because I have 32 years of experience in the real estate trenches, I can help some people fix their problems and that is some consolation. Some people can't be helped. Sometimes it is their own fault but most often something bad has happened to cause them to lose their home.
If you know someone who needs help, have them call me. I will do a free consultation to find out what we can do for them.
I am ready for the business to return to the time when we all got to be happy at closing, but until then, I am trying to help everyone I can.
You cannot change the world one at a time but if you help one person, you can change their world.
leslie edwards 770.460.9448 selling real estate throughout South Metro Atlanta
environmentally aware, socially conscious, politically active