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from Local Attorney, Michael H. Wasserman

Friday, December 7, 2007

Too Much Time on My Hands - On Surviving the Real Estate Slow Down

Washington, D.C. real estate attorney Pamela Rothenberg hit the nail on the head in today's Legal Times. Real Estate is a cyclical market. There are booms and busts. Anyone who has practiced in this field long enough knows that the pendulum swings back and forth. Rothenberg describes the angst of the real estate attorney watching yet another tilt in the "wrong" direction.

My job is to help my clients buy and sell. When they are frustrated in their pursuits, I am too.

So, its pretty horrific having to watch owners who (sometimes desperately) want to sell, unable to find buyers willing or able to buy. Its sad to witness sellers pay money at a closing to make up the difference between what is gained at sale and what is owed to mortgage and lien holders. It is annoying to try to negotiate short sales with lenders (themselves desperate not to lose money in behalf of sellers who cannot sell for enough money to repay their loans in full, and it is no easier watching a willing buyer unable to satisfy lender "guidelines" that seem to change hour to hour these days.

Getting an contract to closing is hard and its getting harder. We of course make up for the increased ratios of "drama to contract" by having fewer contracts to work on.

Now don't get me wrong. Sure I want to make a living, and I want escpecially to make my living representing buyers and sellers in their dealings. But my relative volumes of business and income have never really been a large priority for me. I'm the guy who reminds everyone at a three hour closings that we are lucky to truly like what we do. I get alot of muted laughs and cynical looks when I say this, but the weird thing is that I really mean it. Don't cry for me Argentina, and all that. Its hard work and there may be a few lean months on the horizon, but the pendulum will swing back the other way. All in good time.

The real problem for me is figuring out what to do with my "spare" time now that the phone isn't ringing 24/7 and the time lag between closings increases. Rothenberg voices this same facet of the slow-down -> we just can't seem to....

If you are like us and find yourself with too much time on your hands, check out her very good suggestions. Then get out on your bicycle or take a walk, and enjoy the quite time while you still can.