Real estate & the housing industry. What happened and where is it headed?

The housing industry. What happened and where is it headed?

Allan Glass, President of ASG Real Estate Inc. ® based in Los Angeles, California says from an early age through the end of his teens he loved the idea of helping people solve problems. So, he turned to real estate.

And although this line of work is not necessarily a business venture many might consider today, in Part I of my interview, Allan shares why he thinks it should be a career choice for several reasons some may not have considered.

Now, in Part II, Allan talks about the downfall of the housing industry, what caused it and what those in the industry should expect to see in the next 5 to 10 years. Allan has also provided some industry-related articles to offer some inside information in real estate as an investor and in other areas.

For now, Allan shares his thoughts as to why the housing industry came crashing down.


Gillean Smith: In your expert opinion, what caused the housing market/real estate market to plummet and begin to spiral out of control?

Allan Glass: An overabundance of cheap liquidity and a natural tendency towards speculation helped inflate the “bubble.” The market’s ultimate undoing sprang from the realization that cheap, abundant money would not be available forever.

When the investment banks like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers met their demise, it was like someone turning off a spigot. Overnight the money available to main street lenders began to disappear, leaving new potential homeowners unable to qualify for loans. Then the sub-prime mortgage brokers went away.

With fewer buyers in the market, and new banks scrutinizing every new loan, home values dropped precipitously. As this happened, many new homeowners found themselves upside down on their current mortgage, unable or unwilling to continue paying on their mortgage. As this problem continues to grow the retail banks, like Washington Mutual or Bank of America find themselves dangerously close to failure and unable or unwilling to extend new loans to consumers.

You can see how this quickly spirals out of control.

Gillean Smith: On the other side of the coin, when it comes to buying or selling homes or property, how should one go about finding a qualified realtor?

Allan Glass: Track record, comfort, and trust. Not necessarily in that order.

In today’s market it’s especially important to align yourself with someone who has a record of success in distressed or challenging markets. You should also feel comfortable sharing sometimes uncomfortable financial situations with this person. Trust should be there in this buyer/seller and realtor relationship every step of the way. However, I’ve learned that a person in distress will sometimes believe anything in order to end the stressful situation.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who prey on that, and make their living exploiting those situations. Check references, seek referrals, and do your homework before making your choice. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Gillean Smith: When considering investing in real estate, what are the tell tale signs that this is a good investment and what signs should give you cause to run the other way?

Allan Glass: Answer the question, “Is it a good deal today?”

Most all real estate deals tend to have a best case and worst case scenario. The investor bringing the deal to the table will typically know all the details about the best case scenario; on the other hand the lender or equity partner he is seeking will look diligently into what the worst case scenario may be.

Unlike the early part of the decade when everyone seemed to think prices just continued on an upward trajectory, lenders and equity today are more pragmatic. If a deal does not “pencil” today in a worst case scenario, the deal in unlikely to be done.

Of course, if you’re working with your own capital, you may not have that same problem. Then again, I think the saying goes, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

(For Part One of this interview, click here.)


To contact Allan Glass and ask him a specific question or to visit his website for more research information, click:

ASG Real Estate Inc.

Industry-related articles provided by Allan Glass

The real estate industry. Is there money to be made in 2011?

Real estate industry. Is there money to be made in 2011?

From the age of 8 or 9, through his freshman year of college Allan Glass intended to become a pediatrician. Allan, President of ASG Real Estate Inc. ® based in Los Angeles, California says he was lucky enough to have one of the best childhoods anyone could experience. From an early age through the end of his teens he loved the idea of helping people solve problems. However, after a freshman year of physics, biology, & chemistry Allan says that he wondered if there were other ways to help people with a little less science involved.

So, he turned to real estate. And although this line of work is not necessarily a business venture many might consider today, in my interview, Allan shares why he thinks it should be a career choice for several reasons some may not have considered.


Gillean Smith: As of today or right now, is there any financial benefit to become a real estate agent?

Allan Glass: Absolutely. I believe that it is in the challenging markets that you learn the most and find the greatest opportunities to prove your worth. I also believe that the role of the real estate agent is evolving into more a trusted advisor, than a keeper of guarded information.

Challenging times and markets allow agents to solidify their place as such. The great agents of tomorrow are building their business and trust today. Same thing occurred to a smaller degree in the 90’s when I started in the business,

Gillean Smith: There is often a ‘turning point’ when one realizes his or her own strengths and values. When and what was the ‘turning point’ in your life regarding real estate?

Allan Glass: I’ve learned with most successful people that ‘turning point’ you describe typically coincides with the moment they realize they can earn a living doing something they truly love.

I had the good fortune of finishing school a year after the wheels fell of the real estate market wagon. Savings & Loans were failing, one after the other, and more people were leaving their jobs in real estate than were being hired. There couldn’t have been a better time to break into the business.

Success at that point came from identifying and solving problems others could not. To truly add value to any customer or transaction required the ability to identify what help people needed and how to resolve their issues. I had found my calling. My first few years involved building a company that consulted with banks, helped them value distressed assets, and ultimately sell them for the highest values possible.

Gillean Smith: Tell me how you got started in the business. What attracted you?

Allan Glass: My grandfather was in the construction business, building large industrial buildings all over Southern California. I loved visiting the sites he built during construction, watching the progress, and emulating them back home with my Lego’s and Lincoln Logs.

When I changed my course of study, at the end of my freshman year, something real estate related was a no-brainer for me. With a bachelor’s degree in Real Estate Finance and master’s degree from the school of architecture under my belt, there was no turning back. I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

Gillean Smith: So, should I consider that my 13-year-old’s love of building with Lego’s, from the 1,000 piece kits to building things form his imagination might lead him into real estate from his imagination?

Allan Glass: I believe people, especially kids, find their calling naturally in the interests they take on in their down time. The hard part is weeding out the “should do’s” the rest of us place on them. I’d think writing, architecture, or jobs relating to bringing ideas to fruition would be enhanced by that sort of play.

Gillean Smith: He’s an independent thinker. And whatever he decides to select as his career will have to wait for a future article or two.

Allan Glass: The great ones are independent thinkers. It also helps to have encouraging parents, friends, teachers, etc. to help guide those interests.

Gillean Smith: Is it fair to say that the majority of people might consider a real estate agent as a person to contact when selling or buying a home?

Allan Glass: Fortunately and unfortunately yes. The fortunate part is that agents need that action step in order to keep their place in the process and continue to be successful businesses.

The unfortunate part is that many agents have relied upon that position of gate keeper as their sole benefit to the real estate transaction. With the proliferation of technology and the access to information enjoyed by most consumers today the role of the real estate agent must evolve into something deeper. For those who embrace that challenge success awaits. For those who don’t, well….

Gillean Smith: And the unfortunate? What do you consider the unfortunate side of the overall assumption of what a real estate agent does?

Allan Glass: It’s not unfortunate that real estate agents serve that purpose. It’s unfortunate that so many real estate agents have limited their role to that function in the past. I believe that is a dying business model. On the residential side of the business it often becomes a stereotype that must be overcome. For those who can differentiate themselves from the pack as thought leaders, advisors, etc. I think great success awaits.

Gillean Smith: You mention differentiating yourself as a ‘thought leader.’ What does this mean and how should a current real estate agent figure out how to lead their business with the right thoughts and ideas?

Allan Glass: Commercial real estate agents and brokers have long understood this premise. Especially in challenging markets, buyers and sellers are looking for experts to guide them through challenges and make them aware of pitfalls.

Thought leaders in the real estate industry are those who continue to educate themselves on changing laws, emerging technology, and use that knowledge to help their clients succeed.

In a way, they are the anti-gurus. Thought leaders are always pushing themselves to be on the leading edge of changes in the business, and are always studying the direction the industry is heading.

Gillean Smith: Is it fair to say that many Americans looking to change careers might run away from the idea of joining the real estate industry? If yes, how can you help explain why real estate is a great business opportunity?

Allan Glass: I think it’s human nature for most to run away from the things that are difficult. I’d imagine it was the same way back when cavemen ran away from giant roaring dinosaurs.

Gillean Smith: Let me ask in the way many people might want to phrase the following question: what in the world are you thinking staying in the real estate business and how can you consider encouraging others to do the same?

Allan Glass: I feel like I’ve spent the past 17 years of my professional career preparing for this moment. Anyone can play doctor when the patient isn’t sick. Similarly, anyone can pretend to be a real estate professional when money is cheap, appreciation is outrageous year over year, and buyers are willing to make unsound decisions.

These are the times to perfect your craft. The herds are thinned and opportunities are manufactured by rolling up your sleeves and thinking through problems. I would venture to guess anyone fortunate enough to be working in real estate from 2007 to now has learned more in these past 3 years than they had in the previous 7.

Gillean Smith: Now, I think we’re getting somewhere. “Anyone can play doctor when the patient is sick…” This is pretty sound advice. But can you offer something a bit more concrete? You have my attention. What exactly differentiates a real estate agent from a successful real estate agent?

Allan Glass: Successful real estate agents, or any other business leaders for that matter, have lived their successes and failures. They have learned from them and improved their craft as a result of their experience. Successful agents take that knowledge and help their customers become better buyers and better sellers.

For example, those of us who’ve been around long enough remember the early 1990’s real estate markets were very similar to our current real estate markets. Many successful real estate professionals today have taken those hard lessons to help guide buyers and sellers out of problematic situations.

Gillean Smith: Tell me about the real estate industry 5 and 10 years ago compared to the last two years and today.

Allan Glass: Exciting and unpredictable vs. somber and focused.

There was a lot more speculation in the marketplace prior to 2007. This was possible because of the tremendous amount of liquidity available to investors and developers. Many projects that only made financial sense if the market continued to grow became “shovel ready.” From 2007 through today, speculation has been met with fierce resistance. Most of the successful deals today involve working out broken projects, buying properties from lenders after foreclosure, or negotiating with investors who owe their banks more than their properties are worth.

Gillean Smith: How long will it take for people to feel they can honestly get their money’s worth when putting their home on the market?

Allan Glass: This is a tricky question and I’ll make the distinction between “earning a profit” vs. “recouping a loss.” Few investors who bought between 2003 and 2007 are in a position to earn a profit from selling their real estate. Further, few investors who bought a property prior to 2003 would be interested in selling in today’s market – unless they had no choice.

For most homeowners in the market to sell, the choice involves evaluating their options among foreclosure, short sale, or giving back their property via deed in lieu of foreclosure. In each of these cases the homeowners will not realize a profit and are looking to recoup as much of the loss they are about to incur as possible. Therefore the decision is less about how much, and more about how quickly can they resolve their problem.

For the fortunate few who currently have equity in their homes or who are in a position to wait out a recovery, most experts agree that it could be a couple of years before we see meaningful appreciation in the market.


In part two of my interview with Allan Glass, Allan tells us what he believes the crippling factors were that caused the housing and real estate markets to crash.

For more information about Allan Glass, his business or any real estate or brokerage industry questions, visit: ASG Real Estate Inc.

Melinda Emerson a.k.a. ‘Small Biz Lady’ Committed to Ending Small Business Failure Nationwide (PT. 2)

Moving from full-time employee for someone else to your own boss takes a lot of hard work, planning, financial savings and a passion in the type of business you want to run. With small business being so critical to our country’s success, it is more important than ever to have access to a resource with proven solutions.

One such resource is Melinda Emerson, better known to many as ‘Small Biz Lady.’ Melinda continues to grow as a successful business owner and is committed to helping others who desire to achieve the same success by making it her mission to end small business failure. In part two of my interview, ‘Small Biz Lady’ gets down to the tips that she offers those ready to make their life’s plan a way of making ends meet on an annual basis.

Gillean Smith:You mentioned that you started your own business and started having people ask you questions about starting their own businesses. Were you surprised that people came to you for advice?

Small Biz Lady: No, I think people who are not in business think entrepreneurship is glamorous and fun. They don’t see all the hours, sacrifice and hard work. Running a small business is like being a swan. Swans appear beautiful and graceful above the water, but under the water they are paddling furiously to stay afloat. Many people currently working a traditional job hate what they do for a living, and think that entrepreneurship is a good next option.

Gillean Smith:What initial advice did you offer?

Small Biz Lady: For most, I advised them that their personal expenses were way too high to consider starting a business. I said, “You love Prada, you can’t start a business. You have a 4K a month mortgage and two brand new cars. You can’t start a business.”

Then I realized that I needed to give them a path to scale back their lifestyle so that they could start a business. So I create my special report. “44 Things To Do Before You Go Into Business,” which I give away free on my website If you request the free chapter of my book, “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months,” you can get the special report as an added bonus.

Gillean Smith:A new business owner should not expect to break even or make any profits for some time. How long did it take you?

Small Biz Lady: Actually it takes 18-36 months just to break even. It was between year three and four when I started making real money in my business.

Gillean Smith:To many, this would be a great time to celebrate, within reason. What did you do with your first significant earnings?

Small Biz Lady: I purchased a minivan and then I put the rest right back into the business.

Gillean Smith:You have a goal in business. What is it?

Small Biz Lady: My mission is to end small business failure. I want to be America’s #1 Small Business Expert! I want to have the opportunity to help small business owners daily through the web, TV, radio and writing more books.

Gillean Smith: How are you measuring your success? And how have you done so far?

Small Biz Lady: I have a professional bucket list for myself, and I am proud to say that most of the boxes are checked. I am not emotional attached to anything but my family. I measure my success by my ability to spend time with them and by having the resources to do special things for them. I once measured success by revenues, but that’s a very shallow way to live. I now measure success by profits and time. And time is really the most valuable currency. The better your business is doing the more time you can control.

Gillean Smith: That’s a very powerful statement. Is this what you would recommend others use to measure their own success in business?

Small Biz Lady: Yes. I would recommend it. As business people, profits are how we keep score. So I’m not trying to suggest that businesses should not be focused on the bottom line. But I think people need to always remember why they work so hard. They should not lose perspective. Many business owners, and I was once this way, think their business is who they are. That is the wrong perspective. Your business is just what you do for a living. How do you live? Who do you love? What makes you laugh? What do you need to learn? The answers to these questions should always be the focus. This way, when the chips are down you can figure out how to get back up. When my son comes and tells me, “I love you, Mommy,” that gives me the strength some days to stand up, put my cape on and go be the “SmallBizLady” once more.

Gillean Smith: A successful business must be run by someone who has a passion for what he or she is doing. Where do you draw your passion from to help others?

Small Biz Lady: I think my passion comes from just my desire to end small business failure and the fact that everyone has good ideas. It’s the business of running a business that is actually killing many businesses today. People have no idea what they don’t know about running a successful and sustainable small business.

Gillean Smith: How can someone best utilize what you have to offer? In other words, how should someone get connected with you via blogs, Twitter and such?
Small Biz Lady:,,,

Gillean Smith: You offer a LIVE Twitter chat called #Smallbizchat every Wed 8-9pm EST for emerging and existing small business owners. How can those interested follow this chat?

Small Biz Lady: #SmallBizChat is a weekly conversation where small business owners can get answers to their questions. The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss. You must have a twitter account to participate in the chat. If they don’t use twitter I also post a Q&A from every show on my blog every Thursday morning for all the non Twitter folks out there.

Gillean Smith: Finally, people interested in starting a business are many. What advice would you offer to someone contemplating whether they are truly ready to go the distance? And with all of the information you have available, what is the best place for someone to start?

Small Biz Lady: My book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, is based on a month-by-month planning system for how to transition from a job to small business ownership. I tell would-be entrepreneurs to start with developing a life plan first. You need a life plan before you ever write a business plan. It’s important to figure out what you want out of life and then build a business around that.

The second step is developing a financial plan, so that you can determine if you can afford to become an entrepreneur and start developing a saving plan to break your addiction to your paycheck. Step three is to validate your business concept and examine what skills you have and need to run your particular type of business. It is during this step that you need to evaluate

The fourth step is developing a marketing plan. You must determine who’s going to buy and why. It is important to know how you will stand out in marketplace. Then the fifth step is writing the business plan, which I suggest start with business plan software and then take a course at the local community college, small business development center or a local SCORE chapter.

Then finally it’s time to start the business. The best way to start a business once you’ve done your research, is to start while working your job. You should put effort into the business working evenings and weekends until the business hits breakeven. I believe you should do both your paycheck job and your business until it hurts.

I also have a workbook and 9-week course developed to supplement the book, “Are you ready to become your own boss?” This is the go/no-go decision guide to starting a small business. This fall, some colleges will be offering my course as a pre-requisite to their business plan courses.

Gillean Smith: If someone wishes to ask you about a more specific business topic, how should he or she contact you?

Small Biz Lady: Anyone who wants to contact me should go to my website or find me on Twitter or linkedin

Gillean Smith: One final thought?

Small Biz Lady: I want people to understand what is really involved is running a successful small business. Some days you will win and some days you will learn. Both are important. Both ways can lead to success. Just remember to plan the business and then work the plan.

For Part One of My Two-Part Interview: “Small Biz Lady” shares her secrets to becoming a successful business owner.

Melinda Emerson a.k.a. ‘Small Biz Lady’ Committed to Ending Small Business Failure Nationwide

Though millions of Americans are still without a job, there are still plenty of others who are not happy in their current positions at work. Some may not like the job, their co-workers, their boss, the lack of challenge on the job, too much stress or have any number of reasons why they wish they could work somewhere else. But have you ever thought about being your own boss and owning your own business?

Melinda Emerson, known to her followers as ‘Small Biz Lady’ has done a lot of the planning for you by starting her own business and sharing her methods to success on her blog, her Twitter page and through her book, “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.”

When I had the chance to speak with the ‘Small Biz Lady’ she made it clear that thinking about owning your own business compared to spending the time planning and preparing to be your own boss is far less glamorous and much more stressful than anyone could ever imagine. As Melinda explains, it’s all about knowing what you want, planning the way to get there and working the plan.

Gillean Smith: Melinda, when you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Small Biz Lady: I wanted to be a journalist since I was in 8th grade.

Gillean Smith: Why?

Small Biz Lady: I really enjoyed expressing myself through writing and eventually I gravitated to the school newspaper and I was hooked.

Gillean Smith: Who were your favorite journalists or reporters?

Small Biz Lady: I loved Tom Brokaw from NBC News, Bernard Shaw from CNN, and William Raspberry from The Washington Post. I especially loved reading Raspberry’s op-ed pieces. I loved Carl T. Rowan, too for his Rowan Report on the radio each morning. Oprah Winfrey was always tops with me as well.

Gillean Smith: Were these your favorite journalists and reporters as a high school student?

Small Biz Lady: I would say high school and college. I also did a lot of research and writing on Max Robinson in undergrad as well.

Gillean Smith:You sound like you were focused on a career at an early age. Many in high school or even college find it hard to figure out what they aspire to become. How did you know that your interest was really a serious career path you were going to follow?

Small Biz Lady: My parents really encouraged my writing ability so it was an easy choice for me. I did internships in high school with a local radio station and American Urban Radio Networks. I learned a lot about storytelling in the news department. I also participated in the National Association of Black Journalists summer camp in Pittsburgh for kids interested in journalism careers. I also read the newspaper often as a kid, so I realized that people had careers as professional writers.

Gillean Smith:That’s quite impressive. Do you feel this paid off when you got your first full-time job out of school?

Small Biz Lady: Oh yeah, it definitely helped in college because I knew going into college what I needed to do in college to get a job. I came out of college with three major internships. I worked for Weekend Today Show in New York, ABC News in London, England and CBS Evening News in Washington, DC. I am told that my first job as an associate producer at WPXI- TV in Pittsburgh was the best job of anyone my graduating class.

Gillean Smith: It’s often been said that writing down one’s goals can often lead to seeing them fulfilled. Did you write down yours?

Small Biz Lady: Sure. I have a life plan and a vision board.

Gillean Smith: What is a vision board?

Small Biz Lady: It’s homemade artwork that represents your big picture vision for your life. It should be a poster of what your best day looks like five years from the day you create it.

Gillean Smith: Where did you find out about a vision board?

Small Biz Lady: We’ll a few places. I had a business coach Marquesa Pettway years ago who first told me about it and made me do one. Then I came across a book by author Joyce Schwarz who wrote The Vision Board; The Secret to an Extraordinary Life. I believe these documents are so important for keeping yourself motivate. You must always remember who you are and why you do what you do.

Gillean Smith: How did you move from a TV producer to owning your own business?

Small Biz Lady: When I was in college Oprah Winfrey started HARPO Studios and I thought it was so amazing. I knew that one day I could to start my own business. But I knew that I needed to learn the business first and that’s just what I did for six years in the television industry. Then I started my first company Quintessence Multimedia in 1999.

Gillean Smith: What products and/or services did you offer?

Small Biz Lady: Quintessence Multimedia provides Social Media Strategy, Video Production, Web Development, and Multimedia Content Development. Through my company, MFE Consulting LLC, I am a professional speaker and I provide business coaching, marketing consulting, and professional writing and blogging services. I also develop training materials and courses for entrepreneurs.

Gillean Smith: Did you run this alone or did you hire staff?

Small Biz Lady: I ran my first business as a solopreneur. For the first two years, I worked out of my house. Then I won a business plan competition which earned me free office space for one year and $20K in prize money. At that time, I hired two part-time staff prople, but I mostly used freelance employees. From there, I rented professional office space, and I hired more part-time and full-time staff.

Gillean Smith: It sounds as if your business was successful to the point where you had to hire staff. Were you at all fearful of failing as a first-time business owner?

Small Biz Lady: I think once a day I feared failing, but I also knew that running my business was what I really wanted to do. I made myself a student of small business so I could remove the fear. I knew going back to get another job was not an option.

Gillean Smith: Why is that?

Small Biz Lady: I think some people just know they are not meant for office politics and bureaucratic environments. I am one of these people.

Gillean Smith: Many people may feel the same way. But starting one’s own business seems an out of reach task as well. How did you go about moving from working for someone else to beginning to become a business owner?

Small Biz Lady: In my book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, I tell people to start with developing a life plan first. You need a life plan before you ever write a business plan. It’s important to figure out what you want out of life and then build a business around that. Then you need a financial plan, so that you can determine if you can afford to become an entrepreneur. Then you need to validate your business concept and examine what skills you have and need to run your business. Then you must develop a marketing plan and determining who’s going to buy and why. Then I walk them through writing the business plan and then starting the business, which I think should be done while still working a job. You should do both until it hurts. Who needs sleep anyway?

Gillean Smith: Is the advice you offer in your book exactly what you followed to begin your business?

Small Biz Lady: Yes and no. I only planned six months before I started my first business. I definitely followed my financial planning advice in the book. I also validated my business idea, assembled a kitchen cabinet of advisors and I had a detailed marketing plan and business plan before I started my business. Based on my 12 years of experience, I believe the longer you plan, the more research you do, and the more money you save, the more likely you are to succeed in business. The challenge with starting a business without a plan is with that approach you will learn plenty of lessons the hard way, and that can be expensive. If you live by a budget, have your debt under control, and have a significant amount of savings, you will be able to start your business much sooner rather than later.

If you are serious about becoming a small business owner and are interested in finding out how the ‘Small Biz Lady,’ can offer some help specific to your business goals, visit:





SmallBizChat Facebook Group:

In part two of my two-part interview, find out how Melinda put her plan into action to attain her goal as a successful businesswoman and what tools she offers that can help you get started in owning your own business.