RE’s Schizophrenic Desperation


Note: This post was originally written by Donald Teel for residential Broker-Owners. It is syndicated from REALonomics because of its relevance to commercial brokerages and investors. “REALonomics” is a registered trademark ® of The Teel Group, Inc.


The real estate industry is not too unlike an organization living in a state of collective schizophrenia. Figuratively speaking, we are hearing voices that are not real.

Our hallucinations are mostly self-induced; the voices we hear are actually our own mumblings and business babblings disguised as forces we do not control.

I’m now convinced the real estate industry is delusional but not in the classic clinical sense of schizophrenia. Rather, we are deluded by the notion that what we are experiencing is beyond our control.

Since we don’t have an alternative point of reference for our dilapidated and dysfunctional (not to mention unprofitable) business models, we willingly succumb to the voices that keep telling us all will be well and in time the market will return to normalcy (whatever that is).

We have come to actually believe there is a quick cure for our collective malady. We have long ago stopped taking the medications of self-reliance that can eliminate the voices and have instead turned to a political pill that only fuels the illness and delays the inevitable.

The Great Delusional Grip

Franchisors continue to pimp and prescribe, increasing their delusional grip on Broker-Owners, convincing them, mistakenly, that their brands are necessary as a market value proposition and to their survival.

To control the delusions and squelch the voices we pretend our economic survival can be optimized by merely changing the colors of the pills we ingest. We hallucinate about technology solutions that magically produce profitability through Internet lead generation. The voices continue.

For a long time we have believed the pseudo voices and their message as they tell us to hold on, wait and believe that change is coming in the form of a market rebound that will resurrect the old models and their former but temporary profitability. In reality we are trading our collective ability to transform our industry for a hope in the return of things past, of things long dead and gone. Have we surrendered our business sanity to the collective stupor of a beautiful mind syndrome?

It wasn’t long ago that I also experienced the paranoia that comes from thinking others can and ought to control the business outcomes of my company and that there were forces out to get me if I didn’t comply with the verbal orders of quiet, shadowy personalities hiding under stairways and standing in dark corners, speaking to me and intimidating me as a Broker-Owner.

Dumping Market Meds into the Drinking Water

As we prepare to enter 2011, our illness is becoming more pronounced. Others see the progressive changes but we do not. We do not know whether to take the generic market meds being dispensed by the National Association of Realtors or to reject them while hoping for an alternative magic that can somehow stop the insanity.

NAR is dumping its generic market meds into the drinking water in a giant shift from its fundamental and historic premise that home ownership ought to be based upon the self-reliance of individuals to a new socialist real estate state where wealth is shifted from tax payers to fund the down payments for otherwise under-qualified first time home buyers. It’s the same old repackaged sub-prime pill I will no longer swallow.

Schizophrenia is my metaphor for disordered thinking that is not aligned with sound economic reality in the midst of a market platform that has shifted under the feet of Broker-Owners.

On one hand, we know we are living in a time of great delusion and we desperately want to stop the voices.

On the other hand, we continue to pander to the hallucinations because we want a simple solution to a complex industry illness. We know the voices are not real but we cannot quiet them. We drink the purple water and we pop the multi-colored but phony economic pills that will temporarily muffle the sounds but never permanently stop them.

We are becoming more and more desperate because we are on the edge and are finding it more and more difficult to distinguish reality from fiction. The market meds do not help because they create an additional layer of fog that further weakens our discipline and stifles our resolve to take charge of our individual and collective illness.

Stopping the Voices

There is coming a time when we will have to make a deliberate choice between believing what the voices are telling us and the reality that we are operating our industry from a position of economic dependency that will eventually render us incapable of recovery.

Like many Americans who are waiting for the government to produce solutions, many in our industry are waiting upon the bureaucratic solutions of NAR to deliver a cure that will stop the voices. We have yet to recognize that NAR is but one of the many voices that create the madness that engulfs us.

Some of us are now realizing we have fallen prey to a placebo that can never deliver true economic healing. A few of us are now realizing we have fallen prey to a placebo that can never deliver true economic healing and that in the end we must once again, deliver our own cure.


Donald Teel is a Senior Associate and Principal with Arizona Commercial, an Arizona commercial real estate brokerage and property management firm, headquartered in Prescott, Arizona. Need more information? Please call 1-877-777-9100 or, if you prefer, you may email Donald Teel

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