A Realtor’s Road to Baghdad

by | BiggerPockets.com

Taking responsibility sometimes requires one to find an alternate path in life. I often hear and read stories about people “walking away” from their financial obligations and responsibilities simply because it’s not in their best interest to honor them, or it’s simply become to stressful.

As a Realtor, I’ve certainly not been immune to the mortgage crises and it’s ripple effect. I’ve found it difficult to refinance my homes at terms I find acceptable, and even more difficult to get my clients into homes that banks will loan them sufficient money on.

I’ve concluded that banks don’t really want to loan money right now unless they have to. Fair Lending rules do dictate that when all the hoops are properly jumped through, they must make the loan. They do however keep moving those hoops higher and higher for a majority of Americans. Its times like these that we are reminded of our parent’s warnings “you’ll need to have something to fall back on”.

I still believe in the market, and that it will rebound as it has so many times in the past. The question for many is, how to keep all the balls in the air until it does. Recently I concluded that I wanted to do something different this year, I wanted this year to have meaning.

I will remain active as a Realtor and likely Associate Broker in Bellevue Washington, but I will also be flying to Baghdad Iraq at the end of May. I’ve been offered, and accepted a one-year civilian contract at a water purification plant that supplies the troops with potable (consumable) water. Because I was contacted within 48 hours of applying due to their need for such experience (I previously worked in the public water industry for 12 years), I felt somewhat compelled to accept.

I’ve enjoyed writing for BiggerPockets, and I appreciate Mr. Dorkin allowing me to do so. If I’m able to submit articles while there (and Josh wants them), I will do so. If not, then my picture will likely fade away from this site. The only way I will not be going is if I fail the physical given in Houston Texas prior to shipping out (then I suppose I have other things to worry about!).

I appreciate all the people that read my postings and commented. I do hope your investments do well this year, and I’m confident mine now will. I’m slashing overhead, increasing income, and hopefully being of some small service to the brave men and women fighting in this war.

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  1. Michael –
    I’m personally experiencing the same issues as far as lending goes . . . I’ve been in contract on several properties for a few months now, and my buyers are jumping through hoops, yet still cant get a loan.

    As for you leaving, I am saddened, as you have been a great contributor, and I do hope that you can continue to write for us while you’re away in Iraq. Maybe you can give us a perspective into what is going on over there (real estate-wise)?

    Let me know (email me) when you’ll be out of here, and we can discuss other issues as well.

    All my best,

  2. Thanks Josh, that the fastest I’ve ever had a post appear. I hope to learn a lot from the trip and the job. You know the markets bad when a Realtor chooses a war zone just to get away from it!

    As I said to an assoicate, the banks have gone from the far left of stupid to the far right. I like selling homes, I like finding people their dream home, and I don’t like this sad depressed market we’re currently in. I have obligations that must be met, and in life, one must go where the money is; because believe me, it won’t come knocking on your door.

    I believe I will be able to continue submitting, as I’ve been assured of computer and internet access. I will work 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week (I’m leaving May 12th); so I will be able to write at night. Probably not much else to do! Take care.

  3. Take care over there. Wow, contacted you back within 48 hrs. You must be the right guy for the job and then some! They were probably pretty lucky to find you.

    Good Luck over there (that sounds so understated, sorry.)

  4. Oh, it’s not understated, its kind of you to wish me well. I was very suprised to be contacted and hired so quickly, a little shocked actually. They called again yesterday and offered me two other positions to choose from if I wanted them, and I chose one of them.

    It now appears I’ll be stationed at a bona fide Air Force base called Tallil (they said theres a Pizza Hut there and that did it for me!). Lifes an adventure, if you keep an open mind. Funny part is I have deals sitting in escrow, and I’ll likely write another one Saturday.

    Thanks for the kind words, take care.

  5. Good luck, Michael. That sounds like the kind of experience that can change a man.
    On the lending note, it certainly is true that the hoops are getting tighter and tighter. While it may be easy to blame your local bank or broker, the tightening is happening much higher up the food chain by investment bankers and mortgage insurance firms. These people are losing their (stakeholder’s) shirts and looking for some reality.
    Expect at least another year of general confusion, I say. In the meantime, we are relying on vanilla conventional and FHA loans, of which there are plenty.

  6. I’ve now been here in Iraq for over two months, and its all one would imagine it to be. Temp hits about 90 by 9:00am and 140 by noon. Sand and wind are beating on you all day, and mortars come at night. We’re still holding up better than the banks though.

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