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A Healthy Attitude For A New American Real Estate Scene

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By : Doug Mitchell    99 or more times read
I spent several hours recently reading blogs, magazine and newsprint articles written by some of the country’s top economists. I was trying to get a sense of where the U.S. economy is headed and gain some sort of insight as to when things might get back to “normal.” The reality is, what we had come to think of as normal really never was.

The United States has been on a completely irresponsible fiscal joy ride (some would call it a demolition derby) for many years. Unbridled greed at all levels of the financial markets was unleashed by deregulation of the financial industry and unrealistic mortgage terms. The Madoff & Stanford revelations, the huge cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, partisan politics, etc., indicates how badly we lost our way. As a society, in some way, almost everyone contributed to the fiasco through our collective mindset. This is our wake-up call.

Our country and the rest of the world will see some extremely rough bumps and scrapes along the way, but I think the fear factor will be the biggest personal and collective challenge of all. Our imaginations can be our greatest friend or worst enemy. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that almost nothing is as good or as bad as we think it will be. And, clearly, it feels better to be an optimist than to be a pessimist, so why not look on the bright side of adversity? Those who are looking for good signs will find support for optimism, while those looking for bad signs will find support for their pessimism. Oddly enough, either one can be right if their attitude becomes the mindset of the mainstream. Collectively, we’ll hit our target because it’s the only one we can see.

I’m an optimist by nature and I believe that every adversity carries with it the seed of opportunity. While fortunes have been lost in the past year, others have been made as the economy flounders. I’ve been making the case for buying more real estate while the market is depressed. That view is stronger now than ever as the pendulum has swung way too far to the negative side, emotionally as well as price wise. Savvy investors are taking advantage of the current super low real estate prices (far below replacement costs) while they can. It’s times like these when real estate millionaires are made. And cash, as always, is king.

Direct Participation Mortgage Programs, as well as other private investment vehicles have grown very slowly recently, which is no surprise. Personally, I’m seeing only a handful of new private investors coming on board since the economic meltdown. They are the ones who want to be ready to grab the commercial real estate opportunities as they appear in 2009. We want to be sellers when liquidity is restored to the financial markets. It’s an exciting time for those who follow the workings of market cycles.

It’s important to accept the profound changes occurring all around us, changes that shake up our cozy little worlds. We need to be able to adapt. One thing for sure, American life as we have known it WILL change—perhaps permanently. Maybe the lessons we’re learning (and about to learn), aren’t so bad for us after all, even if they’re painful.

In about 50 B.C., Homer, the Roman poet and satirist said, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” He also said, “Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth, and set down as gain each day Fortune grants.” Although many things have changed since Homer’s time, some things remain the same. Attitude is everything!
Doug Mitchell is the CEO and President of Grace Realty Group, Inc., a Florida investor in value-added commercial real estate projects located in the Southeast United States. Grace offers individual investors debt and equity positions in the projects it redevelops.

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