DAVID LALLY: Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show, where we explore the mindsets, motivation, and methodologies of success. My name is David Lally. I’m the producer of the show. I know we may be in challenging times, but that’s just why we’ve been working on shows to keep us upbeat and focused on the good stuff. Let’s listen in.
BRIAN BUFFINI: Well, the top of the morning to you. Welcome to The Brian Buffini Show. We’re continuing on a series of special messages of people we’re reaching out to during this time of coronavirus and financial uncertainty, to bring perspective insight and some how-tos to our community of real estate agents, homeowners, and then people who are looking for personal growth and development, and who feel a little stymied right now by the circumstances. I have a very special guest on our program today. His name is Vince Malta. Vince is the 2020 President of the National Association of REALTORS®.
I’m a fifth-generation house painter, but Vince is a third-generation REALTOR® and the CEO of Malta & Co in San Francisco. He’s 43 years in the real estate business. God bless you, Vince. I’m 33 years in it, so we’ve survived. Vince has served on the NAR Board of Directors since 2002, has testified multiple times on behalf of NAR. Before Congress, he’s been involved in the California Association of REALTORS® and just a stalwart of our industry. Vince Malta, welcome to the show.
VINCE MALTA: Thank you, Brian. It’s a pleasure being here with you.
BUFFINI: Well, I know you’re in the midst of some very intense meetings with the board. I appreciate you breaking away right now so we could address the real estate community together. They say, “A funny thing happened on the way to the play.” We had record sales in February, best in 13 years. New home sales were up. Everything’s looking hunky-dory. Then here comes this little bug. We have a pandemic on our hands. The stock market goes down 30%. Next thing you know, we have bailouts and all kinds of things.
Vince, I mentioned in your intro, you’ve been in the business for 43 years. You’ve seen multiple recessions. We’ve had terrorist attacks. Real estate has had major corrections, especially in 2008. What’s your best advice for our real estate community right now to help them weather the storm and have confidence in the future?
MALTA: Well, Brian, if there’s anything that was a constant amongst all of this, is that we survived them. We came out stronger on the other end. Even though this is a very different thing that’s coming about and what’s affecting us, one thing is for sure, we’re going to survive this, and we’re going to be stronger at the other end as an industry.
BUFFINI: You’re right there in San Francisco, one of the epicenters of the lockdown right now. What’s life in San Francisco like right now?
MALTA: It was funny, I was traveling so much as the president of the National Association that I told a friend that I wish I could spend a little more at home. Well, be careful what you ask for in life, right? It provides a very interesting perspective of what home is now. Home is very important to me right now.
MALTA: I may not have been in a lot over the last several years, but that’s not the case anymore. I’ve really appreciated my home, this place that I call home a lot more of these days.
BUFFINI: Right, isn’t it interesting at a time of crisis like this that everybody was sent home to their homes? The English expression, our home is our castle and I think people have a greater affection for their home. I think they have a greater affection for the people who’ve made their home possible. I think that’s important. I think also some people have found out their home is their sandcastle.
I’ve got six kids, all the kids are home. I’ve got a big house, but you know what? I got six adult kids all at home or five of them. One of them is married, living with his bride, but I got five adult kids home, eat me out of the house and home and I think for a lot of people they’re also going, “Boy, my house is great but here’s how I need to improve it,” or “I’ve been thinking about making a move for a long time. This kind of seals it for me. I now know what kind of house I want for the future.”
I think when we come out of this, there will be a great pent up demand in the home business. There already was pent up demand with the housing shortage and I felt confident that coming out the other side of this, we’re going to see an awful lot of people making a lot of decisions regarding real estate, especially with the interest rates so low.
MALTA: That’s true. We saw that after 9/11 as well. People really looked at home as they’re safe heaven and so they invested a lot more in their home or they invested in a home. They wanted to invest more in that than let’s say traveling abroad or whatever. I think that you’re going to see the same thing happen here. I think that we’re all going to get our home in order when this passes.
BUFFINI: For sure.
MALTA: They’ll be good opportunities to do so and still, I have to say many markets in the United States are still doing a lot of buying and selling homes right now.
MALTA: Some have been affected and impacted greatly now that we have these a stay at home orders that are going on, but one thing I find with REALTORS® is they’re so resilient and they’re so adaptable. That’s what they’re doing right now. They’re finding ways that they could help their clients either market their property or help them prepare for what they’re going through or providing them the latest information regarding COVID-19 through this crisis and so that is I think so great about our REALTOR® community. They make things work in sometimes the most adverse situations.
BUFFINI: Yes, I think that’s a great point and I think obviously, the national media is reporting nationally and if you think about it, we have New York where the epicenter of this virus is, which is the media capital of our country, as well as the financial capital. You have LA is a big area for media. You have Northern California, and you have the state of Washington, which is the tech capitals.
If you think about it, there’s an awful lot of mindshare there, but it’s a big old country. We’re actually hearing from thousands of our members that they’re still involved in multiple offer situations. That we’re hearing from our members they’re doing virtual open houses, they’re doing virtual tours. I’m going to be sharing on a Facebook live here, in a couple of days, a number of fantastic innovative things that agents have come up with that are brilliant to both serve their customers, continue to keep the doors open and continue to keep activity level high.
It is fantastic, and we have such a resilient bunch of realtors. We’re a unique character, right? We have a job, but we really don’t. We have a business more by ourselves, but yet we have this group that comes together and does remarkable things. I actually want to direct a couple of questions towards you. First, towards the agents’ business themselves, and then secondly, what we can do as agents to be a voice of value and really support our communities.
The first one would be, you’ve been in the business a long time. You know where these huge coaching organization were coaching people up in their business. If you were a coach right now, and if you were coaching an agent in their business and you obviously have given a lot of people a lot of advice, from a standpoint of their business, what tips or advice would you give to a real estate agent at this time?
MALTA: I think communication, number one. Make sure that you have the latest. I’d encourage people to go to nar.realtor and get the latest in relation to how the coronavirus is affecting our industry, and what people are doing with either showing or not showing property, what they’re doing in their offices, etc. Stay up to date with the latest information.
Then I think this is a time — let’s say you’re at a stay at home order. This is a time to really reflect and look inward in a sense as to how you need to perhaps redesign your business model, educate yourself. This is the time to take and do those things. This is a wonderful time to get educated in the sense of getting a REALTOR® designation, etc. NAR is going to hopefully help you do that and make it easier for you. We’re going to be rolling out a lot over the next several weeks for REALTORS® to be able to go online and do a lot of that work from home.
BUFFINI: You bet. I think a couple of things is what we’ve been advising our members is that you’re going to be in a situation where you might want to do 12 months’ worth of business in about nine months worth of work. Now is the time to do training, and we’re letting people know about all the training we do. We switched them all on the online capacities.
Also these designations you’re talking about, maybe if you were thinking about getting into the luxury market, maybe get a luxury home designation. There’s a number of cool designations out there, offered through NAR, now is a great time. There’s only so much news you can watch, and you’ve watched all the episodes of “The Office” twice. Now, guess what? We’re going to get back to work at some point in time.
On one hand, definitely, time to get trained, time to get educated, and then the other encouragement I give folks, Vince, is now the time to be a voice of value in the marketplace. You have customers you haven’t talked to in a while, now is the time to go through your entire database and let people know, “Hey, the stock market went down 30% but your real estate value didn’t. You’re good, you know the market is in solid shape, the banks are solid. They just did this stimulus package, you’re good.”
I recently did a podcast with doctor Lawrence Yun entitled, “This Too Shall Pass,” which is episode 201. Just some brilliant insights from doctor Yun where he really gives economic forecast from the past, where we are and then projected a little bit where we’re going forward. It will give you that confidence and also some specifics so you can actually get on the phone, call your customers, call your past customers and give them that insight and let them know this too shall pass and communicate like you’re talking about. I think that’s powerful. What do you think in regards to how can we provide more value to homeowners right now during this time?
MALTA: I think they’re trying to sort out the information. Some are looking to refinance, some are looking to maybe get into a different property and so they’re going to be asking you questions as to how do they go about that? What’s the timing on this? Should I be marketing my property right now? Should I be looking for a property right now? It seems that the answers to those questions are going to be very market-specific.
I think that that’s where a realtor really comes in and uses their market knowledge in light of what we’ve got going on right now to determine what they can do, what they’re not able to do at a given time. Your expertise is needed more now than ever as we’re sorting through all the information that’s going on out there and absorbing it because they’re getting a lot of national media.
MALTA: They try to apply that to their market where things just are not yet applicable to their market or are very much applicable. They need to know where they stand in relation to what they’re getting from a national viewpoint and bring it local to them.
BUFFINI: For sure, there are actually hundreds of counties in the United States that are yet to have a single case of COVID-19. It’s fascinating seasons that we live in, and for some other people like if you’re in New York City, that’s all there is and it’s such a difficult time for people there. Again, the economics and the policies are national but all real estate is local, we know that and so keeping abreast of it.
I just want to reiterate for a second, nar.realtor, there’s some fantastic information there regarding current transactions, open houses and then some general guides for realtors. We’ve also posted that for any of our members on buffiniandcompany.com. We have a whole bunch of resources and how-tos and tips we’re making available to you so you can download. Now is the time to be getting that type of stuff, things you can send to your customers, it’s all there for free. Just go check it out. The same for nar.realtor. This is a bunch of great resources and insights.
I don’t know if you’re in a position to talk about this stuff, Vince, but there’s been some specific things with our industry that people are approaching and asking for. Things like 1031 deadline extensions, remote notarizations, suspension of interest deductions. Are you in a position to share what the association’s doing, advocating on behalf of the industry on some of these things?
MALTA: Sure. We’re working with Congress, we’re working with governmental agencies to make some of these things happen so that we can get extensions. We’d receive an extension of filing the tax returns, et cetera. Working with HUD in forbearance agreements et cetera and in working with, as you said, 1031 exchanges, getting those extended secure notaries.
What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get more electronic notaries and signatures allowed in various parts of the transaction so that we could streamline that. We’re trying to work with banks so that a more streamlined appraisal process could happen or verification of incomes through email because these things really can stall transactions now that things can’t be done, let’s say in person or whatever. We’re trying to get this to be done more virtually and recognizing that the economy needs to keep going and real estate represents a huge portion of that economy.
We’re all about health and safety. That is our paramount concern because we really want to get by and through this, of course, but there are ways that we can get around this virtually and trying to convince the government and agencies to allow these things which have been really sticking points. I think we’re going to learn a lot through this process that things can get done through this virtual means.
BUFFINI: Vince, I know that NAR has been working tirelessly on behalf of our real estate community with regards to the recent $2 trillion relief package. Can you give us a brief overview of what the measure includes for all of us in the real estate business?
MALTA: Sure, Brian. The measure includes a significant expansion of unemployment insurance for the self-employed and independent contractors that could provide benefits for up to 39 weeks. Now, you have to understand these workers are not usually covered under traditional state unemployment benefit programs, but for the purpose of this relief package, they are covered.
Additionally, there’s $350 billion for small business administration loan programs, allowing eligible small businesses to secure up to $10 million towards mortgage interest, rents, utilities, and payroll costs. That’s also huge for small businesses. Additionally, we have unemployed retention tax credits estimated to provide $50 billion to companies that retain existing employees. Very important for businesses they move forward.
Now, for individuals, they can get rebates of up to $1,200 for single filers and $2,400 to joint filers plus $500 per child. Now, that’s subject to some income limitations, but that’s also a huge aspect of the bill. For property owners, it includes a 60-day foreclosure moratorium and up to one year of mortgage forbearance. These are among a host of other initiatives that we’re working on as well.
We’re working with lawmakers to expand access to remote online notary services and additionally to provide direct rental assistance for families who have income loss due to COVID-19. NAR is working very diligently on behalf of our industry and behalf of property owners. I’m sure you’re going to see more to come in the next several weeks.
BUFFINI: That’s great. Well, I appreciate all your efforts and the team’s efforts. I know NAR has a big seat at the table there in Washington, DC, and we appreciate what you’re doing on behalf of the small business owners in real estate and then obviously the homeowners in real estate as well. A couple of things. You’re so connected, you’re a broker yourself.
We have a real estate industry where margins have been getting thinner for brokers, and we’ve had all of these different dynamics that have been challenging and more challenging to brokers each and every day. More competition, a lot of this publicly-traded money, the technology has been eroding what has been how brokers have established their businesses. What word of encouragement would you have? What tips or advice would you have for someone who’s running a brokerage at this time?
MALTA: My words of encouragement would be is our services are going to be needed more now than ever. As you could see, some online providers have pulled back their services because of what’s been going on, such as iBuying programs, et cetera. I think that there’ll be a great need for real estate services as we move forward. I think that once we blow past this, as you indicated before, we anticipate a lot more activity going into this.
We had a very strong February, as you know. Housing sales are up over 6%, which was extremely robust, and then this happened. As long as we can blow through this relatively quickly, the job market is not damaged from it, we believe that activity will probably pick up. That value proposition is going to be extremely important as we move forward, and I think that realtors will be able to express that value proposition so greatly as they’re guiding people through this post-COVID-19.
BUFFINI: You bet. Well, if I can share one insight that we’re seeing from the thousands of brokers we serve, is, as you know, many agents now have home offices. They don’t come into the office very often. It’s been a decentralization of our industry. What we’re finding is we have thousands of brokers who are conducting training programs that we help them facilitate, and they’re doing it through Zoom. They’re having record attendance and they’re having more engagement than they were having when people were physically asked to come to the office.
On one hand, they’re doing remote office meetings, and they said they’re getting more engagement and the agents want to be together and connect. It’s ironic that so many brokers are sharing with us, now that they can’t get together, they’re being together more than ever before. You got to take the self out of being self-employed.
I think it’s important to connect as a community, connect with fellow agents, connect with your broker and the technologies we have today, we have 240 staff working from home. Our services are up and running full tilt. It’s fantastic. Everybody’s operating and all these Zoom meetings are going on and the spree/core in our company is phenomenal and we’re seeing this the spree to core amongst real estate brokerages at an all-time high.
I think, like you say, some blessings always come out of these trials, right? Difficulties always, you squeeze the orange outcomes, orange juice, it shows them what’s inside. I think a lot of brokers are doing a fantastic job right now and if a broker is listening to this, hey, run a training program or an office meeting and do it through Zoom and get everybody involved. You’ll be shocked that some of the characters you couldn’t get to show up for an office meeting are all of a sudden very engaged and offering advice and sharing ideas of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Again, something good’s coming out of something bad.
MALTA: Very true. That’s just an example of how we’re going to be getting better and stronger after this. Our level of communication will probably be better than it’s ever been.
BUFFINI: Well, it’s interesting. Obviously, here you are, you’re president in the middle of a year, you were on the plane. Most people have no idea the work schedule and the workload of a president of NAR and when you become elected, it is full tilt. Your life’s on hold for a year and you’re traveling around and at meetings and so much going on.
Now, you have this involved and you may not have had time to even process this yet, but I’d like you to think about it. Let’s say it’s the end of a year of this particular year, your tenure’s ended, what would you hope to have achieved at the end of this year and contributed? It’s going to be no ordinary year. You’re a wartime president as they say. [What would you like to see happen and you can say, “I did my bit by the end of the year”?
MALTA: That we recognize that we worked together at all levels of our associations, local, state, and national level, that we had our agents and brokers engaged and working together through this period and that we come out stronger on the other end and set the table for 2021. I think that’s very important. It’s really working together and keeping us together as an association, as an industry so that we will keep moving forward. I think that’s important and that we demonstrate, the National Association of REALTORS®, that we care, we were engaged and we responded to members’ needs.
BUFFINI: You bet.
MALTA: We feel very strongly about that. If we accomplish that at the end of this year, we should be very proud of what we’ve done.
BUFFINI: That’s fantastic. Well, I think in times like this, people develop new appreciations for things. Years ago, my house burned down and I had to build a new house from the ground up. All of a sudden, we’re building this foundation and we built a 10,000 square foot home with this concrete foundation. I don’t know how many. Just dozens and dozens of cement trucks. I had never given a thought to a cement foundation before, but all of a sudden when I had to go through the process of rebuilding, I had a great appreciation. I had a great appreciation for all the work that went on.
As you heard with our interview with Dr. Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, he’s got this sharing, this appreciation for all the people that are working. All of a sudden folks are appreciative of the efforts of what they’re doing, things that we normally take for granted and I think, as an association, many of us as realtors and I’ve been a member for over three decades, it’s very easy for us to have taken for granted who NAR is and what NAR is. I pay my dues but I’m not really involved and all of a sudden now, I think people are going to gain a new appreciation for this group that’s there to advocate, to support, to help, to provide resources.
I really think at the end of this year, you could find yourself as an organization really would a different level of connection with the real estate community where people really have an even higher appreciation and value for the organization that represents them, that’s fighting for them to provide everything they can for the National Association of REALTORS® and then also how the REALTORS® can then advocate for housing and their customers.
I think a lot of goodwill come out of this and I really appreciate you being with us today. It shows your commitment, in the midst of all the crazy stuff you got going on to take the time out of your meetings to be with us today. We could send this broadcast to as many people as possible in our real estate community and to homeowners to know that there’s this group of people who are here.
You know that people who come and go like you said, the eye buyers, they fly into the market and at the first sign of trouble they fold up their tent. They folded up their tent like within days, but REALTORS® aren’t going anywhere. We’re here for the long haul. We’re here to serve and as a present, we really appreciate your leadership and what you’re doing at this time.
MALTA: Well Brian, thank you. It’s a pleasure and I want to thank you for inviting the secretary on your show. Working with HUD has been tremendous this year. They’ve been extremely cooperative. They’re a great partner, they’ve worked with our staff so well and I’m confident that they’ll work through these issues as we’re working through fair housing, which will continue on through this and we appreciate the secretary’s efforts and we appreciate this show for bringing all these to light to your members.
BUFFINI: You bet. Well, thanks so much, Vince. We appreciate you. Enjoy your next few days at home. It looks like it’s going to be even longer in California, so continue to do your work and continue to bless as many people as we can. I appreciate you being our guest today.
MALTA: Thank you, Brian.
BUFFINI: Thank you, Vince, and appreciate all of you tuning in today. Thank you so much and hope this has been helpful, informative. I hope for you that are REALTORS®, you get a new appreciation and value for an understanding of the National Association of REALTORS®. Go to nar.realtor to see all of these resources that are there for you.
BUFFINI: I also know that NAR has launched a Right Tools, Right Now initiative. This is a whole bunch of resources, and in some cases, free certifications and things like that. It’s https://www.nar.realtor/right-tools-right-now and that’s where you can get that stuff. Also, if you have questions, I know we covered a bunch of stuff here. There’s a REALTOR® hotline, which is 1-800-874-6500 and that’s available eight to six central time. That’s 1-800-874-6500.
Then also the Chamber of Commerce just released a really nice piece for anyone who owns a small business. It’s the Coronavirus Emergency Loans Guide and Checklist for Small Businesses and it features things like, “Am I eligible? What will lenders be looking for? How much can I borrow? Will this loan be forgiven?” It’s really cool. It’s an infographic. We’ve made it available on www.thebrianuffinishow.com. It’s also available on the buffinicompany.com/bcbonus.
BUFFINI: Let me leave you the way my mom normally leaves you with a little Irish blessing, may the roads rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the rain fall soft upon your fields and the sunshine warm upon your face. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand. We’ll see you next time.