USA Today’s feature headline yesterday, “Foreclosures take toll on mental health” stirs us with a new and burgeoning dimension to the foreclosure problem.
Imagine the anxieties that plague a family resigned to this impending nightmare.
What stresses befall them as they box up what few possession they have left and move on?
What chronic issues ensue when they are out of their home with no credit or cash to get themselves back into a new one?
What courses though the psyche of foreclosed Americans when they see real estate agents in tour buses and loud speakers rummaging through the detritus of their broken lives?
As Brian pointed out his a recent post, Can you find a positive spin on this?, the danger facing real estate amid this crisis is being short-sold on get rich quick schemes and loose practices when far grander opportunities should prevail. They are there, right under our noses. All we need to do is take a whiff.
Real estate’s customer is in trouble. And they can use a few superheroes. Committed to protecting and serving those careening toward disaster as well as those who have fallen victim to it.
How hard would it be for brokerages to build a preventative foreclosure department dedicated to supplying services for those facing crisis? Mortgage counseling. Financial counseling. Or plain old counseling – you know – someone in the industry to talk to? To vent. A shoulder to cry on and then possibly lean on for strength.
Prevention solutions are not new. Companies like Trojan and Lifestyles rose to the occasion amid the AIDS crisis, publishing manuals on safety, donating their products and creating massive awareness campaigns. They fused assistance and education with their legacy product and came out the other side stronger for it.
It was good for business – but it was also just good.
This is the charge for real estate. To educate. To seek out the high road and wrap a benevolent sheath around the problem.
If I were a broker, I’d mandate foreclosure training for agents — not just on how to sell them, but how to help the people that called them home.
I urge the powers of real estate to organize their armed agent forces into a Salvation Army of service providers, because right now, in plain view of your marketplace — your customers — is a disjointed band of foreclosure mercenaries.
You have a golden opportunity to emerge a hero. How ’bout it?