Guest Column – Stan Albert – The tough get going

Are we recession proof? I don’t think so. As I mentioned about two months ago, beware of the big ‘R’ word.

The cycle has returned – no surprise! Let me see, the last time was in the late ’80s into the early ’90s. It was bad and a lot of agents left the industry to go and sell Amway or whatever. But it wasn’t as bad as 1981 to 1985, where we saw interest rates as high as 28 per cent. Can you believe that? Some of us old-timers can and we survived to tell the tale.

Yes, it was even fun to work the market then, with Vendor Take Backs (you newer agents remember taking this in your mortgage courses, but I bet you’ve never done one).

So, the USA debacle has finally caught up with the staid, stable Canadian marketplace. Is it any surprise that we are not bullet-proof? What happens south of the border usually takes longer to hit us here in Canada. But not this time.

I just returned from a holiday in the Baja Peninsula in Mexico and visited several Realtors and developments. Tourism has been badly hit as well as investment in homes and condos in Mexico.

Some of the Yanks I met were worried about their investments, as we all are. Many were thinking of investing, but shied away due to the Wall Street debacle. However, some of the time share presentations were well received and people were still buying – just not at the rate that they did in years past. This is no surprise.

Is this article all about doom and gloom? No. There’s an old adage: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Yes, it’s a little on the schmaltzy side, but it’s true.

I’ve always been mystified when the market does a downturn, that there are still people who have cash reserves they haven’t invested in the stock market, and they come out of the woodwork to buy and sell properties.

Do any of you think that we’ll have the landslide of foreclosures that we see south of us? Let me know and tell me why.

Who will survive in our industry? Here’s who will:

Those who diligently have been in touch with their sphere of influence.

Those who hold seminars for first-time buyers. Yes, they still want to buy!

Those who read about the recession and how the agents who lived through it managed to maintain their sales. I recently talked to a manager of a large market niche office, and their sales are the same as last year.

Those who investigate the new Accredited Seniors Course – yes, seniors still need to sell and buy.

Those who look into recession-proof prospects (you can reach me on email for these – don’t have room here!).

Those who continue to run open houses on a regular basis.

Those who tighten their belts on spending and resist the urge to splurge.

Those who seek the advice of their manager, not their coaches, because most coaches are too young to give advice on this type of market.

Those who attend mind-building seminars, not the rah-rah type.

Those who take time to read REM, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.

My late dad, Jake Albert, always said to me, “Hard work never killed anyone, only those who were idle usually died poor and miserable.”

Stan Albert is celebrating his 39th year in active real estate, and is with Re/Max Excellence in Woodbridge, Ont. He serves on committees at RECO and on the MLS Rules and Communication committees at the Toronto Real Estate Board. He is an established trainer and business consultant and can be reached at