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.