And the walls that won’t come down, Posted by Jim

“And the walls that won’t come down…we can decorate or find some way to get around…”
Jimmy Buffett…From – “Off the Coast of Carolina”

Well – another summer and now Labor Day has come and gone. I spent September 3rd (when I should have been writing this blog) at …yes… another Jimmy Buffet concert in the Washington, DC area. If you’ve read any my blogs you know I have an affinity for JB (all his good friends call him JB) but this time I found this one song to hit Realtors® in the today of reality.

The last 18 months have been difficult for our residential members and now the second shoe has dropped squarely on our commercial practitioners. Over the next 18 months or so we have approximately $1.3 trillion of re-financing to be completed but we have commercial mortgage backed security issues that aren’t being “fixed” and we have lots of us trying to place new financing on commercial property that we’ve been asked to market. Decorate these issues any way you’d like and it’s not a pretty package.

To be sure, NAR is working on these issues. President McMillan and the Leadership Team continually meet with the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac , the Treasury Department, FDIC, the Federal Reserve Chairman and anyone else that will listen. We are being heard but the fact is that the “fix” isn’t an easy one. Most agree that until unemployment begins to fall that commercial tenants and businesses won’t see a major turn around. Prognosticators predict it will be the end of the first quarter or more likely the second quarter of 2010 until there is any significant uptick in activity. Ten days ago at the Leadership Summit 1800 Local and State Association Leaders came together. There was optimism about the market – it felt good and it was good.

So, why would I quote Jimmy Buffet you ask!! What I’ve found as I travel on NAR’s behalf is that REALTORS® willing to work – willing to look and find a way to get around the walls that preclude us from doing business do exactly that. There is still money to be made. I have completed two transactions in the last month that I just wasn’t willing to give up on. I finally found a bank willing to listen and they helped with financing for a purchaser and tenant improvement money for the tenant that made the investment property a worthwhile investment. The second transaction was completed with the help of a credit union that saw the value of re-financing a building that had a long track record of being successful. Neither transactions were easy but I found a way to make them work with persistence, some new strategies and by working with a vengeance. I actually made money doing it too.

Our Association is doing more now for the commercial member than we ever have. With blogs, monthly commercial podcasts,, e-property data, Congressional testimony, a four point plan presented to the Administration in Washington, DC as well as the GSEs and the Treasury we have pushed and pressed as much as anyone – actually more!!

The problems before we commercial practitioners are huge. Giving in is giving up – that just isn’t an option for you or for NAR. You can’t do that either. Find a way to “get around the wall” that is making our lives a little tougher than it was three or four years ago but don’t give in. JB’s song is about finding a way to make a love work that has had problems. Let’s face it – if we didn’t love this profession we wouldn’t be here working, struggling and finding ways to survive….and we will.

Summer is nearly gone but I am optimistic – eternally so. Ninety-five percent of our success is attitude. Don’t give in… the REALTORS® Conference & Expo is in San Diego just over two months from now. Come to the meetings –learn, network, re-energize and take a break for a few days from the rigors of what we do for a living and learn what others have done to “decorate the wall or get around it”. I’ll be there and I sure hope you’ll be there too! — Jim Helsel, CCIM, SIOR, CRE, CPM, 2009 NAR Treasurer

  1. It’s “Buffett.”
    “Buffet” is where we eat too much.

  2. Why not put the podcasts on itunes and let my computer automatically donload them, just in case I forget to come to the website? Thanks for your hard work.