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There But For The Grace… Realtors in Distressed Homes

Today a fellow REALTOR and dare I say friend posted his foreclosure story here on Agent Genius.

It was clear from his writing how difficult it was for him to share this tale; the agonizing he had experienced prior to hitting the publish button was clear.

I read the post and realized at the end that I had been holding my breath.  My anxiety had risen and I was really wanting a cry.

This reaction wasn’t strictly related to the post, although it was all about empathizing with it.  My reaction was one of total UNDERSTANDING.  As those of you who have followed my writings know: I just barely missed the foreclosure bullet, myself.

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There But For The Grace….

In my writings many agents have reached out to let me know that they, too, have a distressed home situation.  They don’t comment on my blog posts or put it on twitter or facebook….these are private messages of solidarity, understanding and camaraderie.

So now another agent had the guts to stand up and share his story.  I applaud that spirit.  His gutsy post makes me wonder:


If he and I are willing to share our story, how many more are out there that can’t/won’t/don’t share?

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I wager it is a lot.

Here is the thing: as professionals in the home owning business we think it looks terrible if we run into trouble.  We are supposed to be super heroes of the homes.  We don’t fail or flounder, WE SELL HOUSES gosh darnit!

News flash people: the housing market took a huge hit.  We earn our living on the housing market.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that many, many real estate professionals are going to be in a bad place with their own mortgage during times like these.

You don’t have to write a post, you don’t have to respond to this one, but if you are reading this and are in trouble with your mortgage: PLEASE be kind to yourself.  Please know that you are in good company and that more people understand your circumstance than don’t.

What helped me was working with home retention.  It made me feel better to help others in the same boat and gave me the courage to continue to work.  You can get yours back, too. You will find the way.

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I look upon my situation now, almost two years later, with dreamlike (nightmarish?) quality.  I have moved on and am recovering…you will, too.  Better days are coming friends, let’s march there together!

Written By

Lesley offers 21 years experience in real estate, public speaking and training. Lesley has a degree in communications and was the recipient of an international award for coordinating media in real estate. In the course of her career Lesley has presented at international real estate conferences and state REALTOR associations, hosted a real estate television program, written articles for trade magazines and created marketing and PR plans for many individuals, companies and non-profits.



  1. Julie Emery

    January 12, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Lesley, I don’t know how many it is, but it has to be a huge number just based on the number of agents I know who’ve been in this boat. And, I’m sure I only know about a tiny fraction of the agents who’ve been in trouble. Like you, I’m sure there are many more struggling privately. I’ve gotta think that all the false “Rah Rah! The market is great!” stuff has been hard for them to stomach.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    January 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Lesley – It is difficult to deal with (as you know) and was difficult to publish, but I made the decision to do it because I had made the promise to myself that I would share my experiences with agents and consumers. I never wanted to just share the good news or the happy thoughts, because that wouldn’t be a true picture. Still, this is one thought that I wasn’t sure about sharing.

    Why? For the exact reason you spoke of. I’m supposed to be a super hero of homes. I should be able to do it myself or I’m just pretending I know what I’m talking about. I need to have the knowledge and personal experience. One thing I thought long and hard about was how the consumer-reader would feel upon reading this. Although this isn’t a San Antonio focused blog, I’m sure some San Antonio people read it (and know for a fact that several did). Would they still hire me? Would they view me the same? Would they think for some reason I wasn’t good enough to deal with their personal situation?

    I worried less about agent-readers. We’ve seen examples is the past and know that the agent community can be very supportive – no matter what the reason. I did feel some nervousness as I knew posting it here at AgentGenius would be like telling some of my “heroes” that I had missed the mark. You have to remember that I was more or less trained right here on these pages, so many of the people I know from here have an almost God-like superiority to me. These are my heroes. Even though my brain told me that no one would give me a hard time on these pages, I still had to think about the consequences (on myself) if someone did. What if Jay Thompson said I was an idiot? What if Lani Rosales told me I screwed up? What if anybody said something negative? As you well know, foreclosure brings about a lot of irrational thinking in a person. Jay or Lani aren’t the type to come down hard on someone like me, but the illogical fear still existed.

    I would love to see some statistical data on Realtors® and how we’ve dealt with the housing market mess. I know I’m not alone and many agents have assured me of such, but it didn’t make me feel any better as I went through the process. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out though, much as you suggested. We hear a lot about the lenders who lost jobs, the inspectors who had to fold, and the builders who couldn’t build anymore homes, but we don’t hear as much about the Realtors®. I think it’s a secret we all keep to ourselves – precisely because of your suggestion that we need to be super heroes of home selling. No one wants to be the hero without a “Bat Cave.”

    I think your post is a fitting “open arms” to agents (and consumers) everywhere. Letting them all know it’s not as devastating as it seems (it hurts, but you can make it) and that there are so many others out there just like them. I for one really enjoyed reading your words this morning. Yesterday was quite the day for me…I felt naked and exposed, but hearing from so many friends and so many strangers made it all seem that much better.

    Thanks Lesley, I needed this post.

  3. Lisa Oden

    January 12, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Lesley – Thanks for writing this.
    Matt – I’m going back to read your story immediately. I never would have guessed and your response to this post has moved me to tears. You see, I’m one of those people who has previously responded to Lesley in a private message. My main source of income is from real estate and our other source of income is from my husband’s brick and stone business. Our bread and butter was new residential construction, need I say more? We manage month to month, week to week and sometimes day to day. The stress, pressure and emotions that come with this are sometimes unbearable, especially considering we try to keep things as normal as possible for our two kids.

    I guess posting on such a hugely visible site is my way of saying we are out here. Last year was probably the worst (I hope). However, I’ve managed to regroup and refocus. I’ve learned that none of my previous careers have current job opportunites. I think that’s kind of a message to hang in there. I LOVE being a Realtor. I WILL work harder and find a way to make this work. I just got my acceptance notice yesterday for the SFR (Short-Sale, Foreclosure Resource) designation. There are SO many people in our community who’ve already foreclosed, or are hanging on by a thread. There are also many agents taking on short sales without the knowledge or compassion to help someone in this incredibly difficult time. I certainly have the compassion and understanding and now have so much more knowledge.

    Thank you both for sharing your stories. You are both heroes to me and this information doesn’t change that. The fact that you keep moving through such adversity fuels me to do the same. You will come out on top, because you’re in the business for all of the right reasons. Now – go kick butt in 2010!!!!!

  4. LesleyLambert

    January 14, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Matt: just remember the old adage “it isn’t how many times you fall, but how many times you get up”. I know the consumers out there get that, too.

    Lisa, HUGS. Thanks for sharing sweetie!

  5. Janie Coffey

    January 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Lesley, Matt, I am right there with you. And even the big BloodHound as well.

    We make our living from selling real estate. If it isn’t selling, no living. Period. Depending on when you bought your home (ours at the TOP of the market) you might not have a chance to sell, short of a short sale or foreclosure.

    Being in Miam, I think we were hit earlier than most (07 and 08 were disastrous for us) but 09 steadied considerably and we fought for quite a while to keep our home but in the end it just made no sense. It is worth 1/2 what we bought it, we were hit by the real estate market and the construction market collapse (my husband and I own a GC market) and the home was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma.

    We have 100% changed how we look at alot of things (money, credit, savings, how to spend our time and money, family, etc.) We have come through a near disastrous event stronger and calmer and more grounded.

    My business partner and I survived in these lean years by listing short sales. I cannot tell you what a benefit it was for me to be able to tell our clients “I’ve been there, done that” (we had another property that had to sell as a short sale as well). They felt less embarrassed, less afraid, less alone. It was a HUGE benefit. I felt like I went through it first so I could help them. Our clients were doctors, real estate brokers, real estate attorneys, just about any walk of life or profession. The toll on them was tremendous (especially the men, who have an innate feeling of needing to take care of the family). Knowing that my family had lived through it and were still fine, didn’t wear a Scarlet F on our chest and were still happy on the other end of the dark tunnel was extremely comforting for them.

    While it has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, it has been an experience I would not change and feel that I am a much better person and Realtor for it.

    Kindest regards


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