2011 Predictions From Industry Experts – Mabél Guzmán

Mabél Guzmán: President of Business Development and sales, ENvision Real Estate; 2010-2011 president, CAR

Name three people/businesses that you are watching in 2011. When looking at businesses that could positively impact mine, they are not related to real estate but have great systems. One is Psyop, a dark horse in advertising. The company gives me perspective beyond the ordinary. Its key words are persuade, change and influence. These days, I am looking for job announcements as they relate to industry expansion. I am also looking to the retail sector to monitor spending and gauge consumer confidence. I could look to other real estate businesses, but why? To me, looking beyond the industry offers inspiration and potential motivation to change in plans.

The Kaufmann Foundation is also good for inspiration and thinking about what the new economy will look like, as well as how I, and my business, fit within it.

Lastly, I also look at other markets as a sign of things to come. I check in on Kansas City, Austin and Los Angeles.

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What plans do you have for your own business in 2011? Creating systems and affinity programs that separate ENVISION from the herd. My niche market for working with consumers is within the confines of bricks and mortar and our intrasite. My consumer (brokers) can plop themselves into a couple of internal markets that work for them. That’s where affinity programs with vendors come in, and our creativity to solve customer/client problems with transactions that gives us an edge. It’s about love. For the external consumer, we give more to receive what we need and keep our customers/clients in our RED (Spanish for sphere/network). We are building a community based on information, education and fluidity.

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Where will the real estate opportunities be in 2011? Opportunity is everywhere. You have to keep your eyes wide open and ears to the ground. There is inherent value to watching trends, transaction details and elements of the market, like price points and repetitive questions that pop up, to create opportunities and make them yours.

We at ENVISION Real Estate, Real Estate on Radio, ICG Acquisitions, ROR Construction, Help Me Flip It and Opportunity Funding saw a problem with credit policy. What did we do about it? We saw an opportunity and created a buyer workshop that incorporates credit counseling and money management to ensure buyers are truly qualified and have a future buyer. Another of our business opportunities is construction finance for short-term projects, which can be tough financing to obtain so we created Opportunity Funding.

You do have to be patient. Creating new systems and processes takes time and entails a lot of mistakes. Yet these mistakes spark new energy and resolve to get it right.

What’s next? I don’t know, except we will be watching trends and listening to those repeated questions.

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How many people, if any, do you plan to hire in 2011? Hiring will be organic. Can we be profitable with 100 brokers or is it better to have 40 dedicated people who use fewer resources? That’s always the $64,000 Question. Since we are new, it has been interesting to think about adding folks who bring a new dynamic to our happy little family that’s focused mainly on our deals (rehabs). My plan is 38 new hires by June; maybe.

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Is there anything about the industry that you’d like to change? The industry is changing at light speed. You need to be plugged in to try and stay ahead of it. If I had superhero power to change something, it would be loan limits and the short sales process. Loan limits in Illinois, and specifically in Chicago, are something I harp and nudge about almost weekly, if not daily. Last year I had the privilege to be part of discussions with FHA Commissioner David Stevens and FHFA economists and the General Counsel about this very issue. Illinois is taking it seriously, investing money in case studies and also working Congress. We are close, yet still have more to do.

The $415,000 cap is ridiculous. We are being punished for our market diversity. I see it as federal legislative redlining. Buyers in Chicago at $750,000 do not get the equal access and treatment that the same buyers in California do at the same price. Increasing the flow of capital an additional $24,000 per-transaction would bring money to the state, and folks would be able to buy without draining their savings, going into retirement accounts or simply modifying or refinancing. The short sale process is inconsistent and most times does not produce successful results. I believe in nuance, not 50 different types. Standardization would be great and that would require legislation. Unfortunately, people in Congress aren’t talking to each other so we have to develop solutions ourselves. Predictability would be welcome as a sign of change.

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Mabél Guzmán is the president of business development and sales for Envision Real Estate, LLC and she is also the 2010-2011 president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. She can be reached at 312.286.4401 or by e-mail at mabelguzman@ymail.com.

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