Coronavirus Is Happening For You
COVID-19: The one thing none of us can escape from, whether we’ve caught it or not.
Like many of you, I am working from home today, and yesterday, and the day before that, for the last three weeks. My son is upstairs watching TV, the worksheets that serve as ‘school’ long-since filled out. I can remember the last time I drove my car. It was to take Diego, Jesan and Lena all bicycling along the Chattahoochee River.
It was a splendid day, despite the Cobb County parking ticket earned by parking along the overpass because the Federal park was closed. $33.75 well spent.
In less than a month, the world has been turned upside down, revealing many things to many people. It’s amazing how this disease has taught me where I was spending my precious time: The office, those minutes and hours of the day now filled in with the dusty projects of my once-neglected life.
Gardening. Jumping on the trampoline with Diego. Baking alongside my wife. Jogging every afternoon with Jesan to ready him up for a possible entrance into the military.
I am getting more done on long-lost home and landscaping projects, but still groping for light in the moonless night of the COVID-19 real estate market.
Every day is like walking the rim of a deep canyon and wondering how far down it goes.
Comparable properties – the bread and butter of the real estate investor – are now mostly ‘pre-Corona,’ and thus unreliable. Everyone expects a recession, but how will that recession affect the real estate market?
As goes the retail market, goes the investment grade market, which is currently reeling. Much of the ‘hard money’ lenders have either closed shop or cut their lending terms in half, making it harder for new investors to get into the market, which puts downward pressure on pricing, while also shoring up the fortunes of established investors with their own cash…Like Light Box.
Thanks in large part to the astute advice of our executive coach last Fall to build a strong cash position ahead of 2020, our business is well-positioned to not just make it through this black swan event, but thrive in it, taking advantage of the coming Buyers market.
Thus far, the Sellers have their heads in the sand, saying ‘this too will pass.’ Wholesalers aren’t reducing prices much, and Sellers on listed properties are standing their ground. They don’t yet realize that the tidal wave of money that was driving up prices has receded in the face of COVID-19, and that we are entering a Buyers market.
To help me navigate the rapidly changing real estate landscape, I have one of the most astute brokers in the real estate investment business: Amy Ransdell, who has created a brokerage made up of professionals committed to one another in spirit, word and in deed, called Powerhouse Real Estate, organized along the principal of #CollectiveRise, which you can think of as a collaborative network between investors and agents, producers and marketers.
I attend every one of my brokerage 8am Zoom calls; a light in the darkness, and Amy will be putting together a general ‘town hall’ style Zoom call that you can take part in. Contact me to find out how to join this watershed meeting.
Within my business, Lena and I are making changes to reflect the situation: Trimming unnecessary expenses or re-thinking systems that lean on paid subscriptions, picking my buying battles and adjusting criteria, phoning up long lost colleagues and leads, and conducting research.
I switch between teaching my son and work most days, equating about four hours of intense work on my business daily, whereas that number used to be closer to twelve.
My entire schedule has changed to maximize my time. I once got up at 4:30am every day to swim and then go to work. Now I get up at 5am to do ‘deep work’ for three hours and then do a mix of teach/tv/work until early afternoon, when I slog out a 5k with my older son.
The four-hour workday concentrates the mind on what truly matters, on prioritizing projects and lead flow that generate the most bang for the buck. It is good exercise for the entrepreneurial mind.
Before COVID-19, I used to spend an average of two hours a day in a car, and nowadays driving a car is a suddenly novel experience. I cover more miles in my jogging shoes these days.
But, being less ‘busy’ and more focused on my budget, I am no longer stuffing sushi and gyros in my face three times a week. My health has largely improved, and the quality and variety of my diet has not suffered.
Everyone quarantined in my house comes together to cook in the evening, and we eat dinner as a family almost every single night. We pray and talk and get to know one another on a deeper level.
Also, I have become the gung-ho gardener my once busy life never permitted. Tomatoes, basil, onions, eggplant, pumpkins and cucumbers all get a lot more attention and water. I’ve even put in a water-saving rain barrel.
Gardening is humbling work, because you realize it only takes a day without food to be hungry, but a month of work to actually grow food. The implications of this stalk me down the now-spartan aisles of our centralized grocery distribution system, face mask in place, cart handle good and sterilized.
I have to hand it to my wife, Lena: She’s been a real inspiration during these long days trapped together. She’s always had a good eye for potential, and she’s always organizing or fixing something around the house.
Sometimes, she comes up with wonderfully spontaneous art projects that bring out her innate creativity and brilliant use of color to make something old new again.
Last Fall, while picking up furniture donated to a friend in need, my father-in-law was gifted with a functioning patio umbrella in need of some repair. One of Lenhart’s -and Lena’s- core values is ‘recycle,’ and he planned to replace the fabric of the umbrella.
Over last weekend, Lena decided to renovate that old fabric by painting it. She brought out some leftover silver-gray spray paint, a sampler of yellow door paint, put on some music, and made it into a unique work of art. After spray painting it, she drizzled the yellow paint to create a fun pattern, and now the umbrella stands proudly over our back patio.
It was a creative way to re-use instead of buy new, and it even used the company color scheme.
Sometimes its within massive tragedy or change that we grow. We learn to see life with different eyes and we drill down on what is truly valuable to us and how we define wealth.
This pandemic is tragic, but for me at least, and maybe you, it has been a catalyst for positive change in my life.
A four hour work day. Lots of time with family. Learning and connecting within my business. Better self-care and much, much better lawn care. It’s funny: I finally know what it looks and feels like to be truly wealthy.
My executive coach, Malhar Bhagat of M2REST, likes to say that things happen ‘for you,’ not ‘to you,’ and within every tragedy there lies lessons about life, business, the world and your place in it. But you must choose to see things this way. You must choose to search for the silver lining.
My prayer for you, dear reader, is that the COVID-19 outbreak has opened your eyes to see your life in a new way, make positive changes, and accept what ‘is’ with grace and humility.