Real estate agent shakes hands with new homeowners

Count Your Blessings. It’s a lot Worse Elsewhere.

As real estate professionals based in the USA, we certainly have our fair share of challenges today. But we also can be thankful, despite the mortgage crisis and worldwide economic downturn, that we practice our trade here – where downpayments are still 20% or less, where closings take weeks, not years, and where mortgages exist. Trust me, housing in most other parts of the world is a lot worse.

What would you think about waking up each morning as a real estate professional, knowing that your clients would have to come up with a 40% downpayment? What if you had to tell clients that their new home would take “a few years” to complete?

Think you have it tough helping your clients today get a mortgage? What if you were in a country that basically had no mortgages available at all? In other words, qualified buyers are those that have cash. Period.

If you think it’s tough here, think about the challenge facing real estate agents in the country of Ethiopia today. Where cash transactions, 40% down payments, and closing times of 2-3 years is the norm.

In an almost tragically funny news release put out by the Ethiopian portal, where they apparently were trying to promote real estate in their country, they said this last week:

The real estate brokerage business in Ethiopia is not as well developed as in other countries. Buyers and sellers rely on agents locally called “Delalas” for buying and selling homes. These are traditional agents with no formal education in real estate but who basically mediate between buyers and sellers. A great deal of negotiation is involved in buying homes. Asking prices can be as high as 50% more than the final sale prices. Home mortgages are almost none existent in Ethiopia. Most real estate transactions are conducted on cash basis.Down payments vary from 20 to 40%.”

A major problem with homes … is the time it takes for completion. In the past, some of these homes were completed many years past their due dates”

This kind of publicity is so lame it’s comical, taken from the school of “But apart from that, how’d you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?” so I’ll leave it to someone else to cite this news release as an example of how not to do publicity. That’s not my point here. I only want to underscore an often forgotten truth—that the USA is the best place to be a real estate professional today, despite all the bad news.

If you’re getting depressed about the housing situation in your market, think about what kind of day you’d have if you were in Ethiopia. And maybe thank God that you don’t have to list a property for 50% over the price your client really wants, or wait 2 years for a closing.

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