When Your Real Estate Business is Stormy

P1080140Every storm runs out of rain” my Dad said as we were trekking through the hilly terrain of Tuscany, Italy.

He was quoting a country music song by Gary Allan as he discussed the challenges Dave and I had faced in the last 6 weeks with our real estate business. We had 7 tenants give notice all within a month. That has never happened to us in a year, let alone at once.

There was no underlying trend – we filled them all quite quickly – but we also had a lot work to do all at once. We had to arrange a new furnace, some new windows, painting, cleaning, repairs and landscaping. When tenants move out there are always things to do. And, of course, it happened while our office manager was away on 2 weeks of holidays so it was just us to handle everything.

And all the tenant related work that popped up happened smack dab in the middle of doing due diligence on our first official commercial deal. (I say first official because we’ve bought several properties where it’s zoned commercial but currently a residential use or it’s mixed use – residential and commercial).

It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, however it was incredibly busy, mentally taxing and financially straining. We had not planned to put $60,000 into our rentals in one month and while some of that comes from the property reserve accounts and some from our partners, it’s still a lot of cash to organize and pull together unexpectedly.

Rick Broad in TuscanySo there I was trekking through Italy with my Dad, getting lost at times, and he’s reminding me that ‘this too shall pass’. And he’s right. As I am now back in the office after two fabulous weeks away, things are much calmer. We’re closing on the commercial deal on Monday (we met the Dentist who runs the office yesterday and got all the contact details from the current owner for everyone that works on the property) and almost all the work is complete on the properties that had turnover in the last 30 days.

It was a rough August, but we got through and you will too. But if you find yourself in the middle of a storm cloud you might want to know how to reduce the pain – even a little. Here’s my suggestions:

1. Go back to why you got into real estate in the first place. I find myself quickly refocusing on what has to get done rather than feeling sorry for myself when I remember all that real estate has already given us and what I know it will give us in the next 5 – 10 years.

2. Get a third party perspective – sometimes you are worrying about the wrong things. A client of ours went through a very emotionally draining situation with his family and, to his credit, tried to keep pushing forward with his to do list. He was grouchy, exhausted and overwhelmed with everything on his list but it had little to directly do with his real estate. I tried to gently tell him his priorities SHOULD be with his family and forget the rest of it for a few weeks. Later he described it as a ‘talking to’ so maybe I missed the gently part, but he felt refreshed and better able to focus. He thanked me because he needed that third party perspective – which in his case was permission to focus on family. Other times you may be worrying about something you can’t do anything about and missing the things you can fix! Someone who is not emotionally or financially tied to your situation can offer a much needed perspective in challenging times.

3. I wake up in the middle of the night to worry about things if I don’t do this one thing every single day: write down all the things that have to be done the next day and plan tomorrow before you shut down today. When things get intense and chaotic this becomes even more critical. I still worry at times – but the more I write everything down and assign times to get the important things done (and even the lesser important things) the more relaxed I can be when I should rest. And rest is fundamental to managing stress.

And when all else fails just focus on the next possible thing you can do. Often the whole picture is not visible but there are things you can do. Do those and bit by bit you’ll get through.

Or. As the song goes on to say… “Just like every dark night turns into day
Every heartache will fade away
Just like every storm runs, runs out of rain.

Oh heck … time for a music break don’t you think … sing it Gary:

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