Scott Bayens: Running on empty as real estate and life run full-speed ahead
When I began my career in real estate in Aspen in 2005, there was a print ad for another broker that caught my attention. It was an unusual image for our laid back ski town as it showed the broker on a snowy winter day, dressed not in his ski gear but decked out in crisp business attire, briefcase in hand, descending the stairs at gondola plaza, headed away and into town.
It was an effective and memorable message that essentially said, “I’m busy working for you on a powder day, kicking my competitors asses, while you’re out there getting face shots.” As a new broker and knowing this agent had built a successful business, I wondered if I might need to forsake the slopes and adopt a similar work ethic if I wanted to excel in my new chosen profession. I certainly I didn’t give up skiing, but I have learned there are times you’ve got to head down the hill earlier than you’d like to show a home, write an offer or put out a fire.
I’m not complaining in the least, but I think it’s fair to say after 18 months many of us, and not just in the brokerage community, are running on empty these days and are looking to catch our collective breath. It’s been “game on” for so many through this pandemic, and one could argue we remain at an unsustainable pace. It some cases, our physical and mental health are at stake; just think about our teachers and health care providers.
But it’s no secret “there are still miles to go before we sleep.” In the world of real estate, more than $100 million went pending last week in a seven-day stretch between Carbondale and Aspen. This despite record low inventory. At that pace, we’d sell more than $5 billion of property in a year. The actually number is of course lower but still impressive as we are trending toward $2 billion in total sales volume for 2021. So far there is no “off season” in site for those in the industry.
When I was in the news business, I had a news director who would shout out to the nightside crew as he headed out the door each night, “New news, people! New news!” It meant get out there, uncover something fresh, find a new angle and don’t repeat yourself lest you lose the attention of your viewers and readers who could easily change the channel or use your rag as kindling. Not being original or relevant is the fear of every writer, presenter and creative.
To be honest, lately I feel as though I have been repeating myself, and am trapped in a bit of a loop. I’ve always tried to make my monthly missives more than just market metrics. The goal has been to connect the oft-observed obsession of real estate sales to something more substantive and personal, even intimate. So if you’ll indulge me a point of personal privilege, I’ll attempt to provide fresh material and say something connective that might be relative.
Recently, there are days I’m on the warpath, checking to-dos off the list, doing end-runs around obstacles, and knocking everything that gets in my way or wastes my time right in the teeth. And then there are the times I get distracted; by the news, by a bad driver, a difficult client, poor cell service or another pseudo-libertarian who wants to complain about masks, and preach about freedom and the constitution. Either way, it’s exhausting and leaves me wondering why my default these days is to walk down that set of stairs away from the mountain instead of running toward it. And then I remember.
The magic of where we live and why buyers locked up $100 million in real estate in a week is what we must all strive to preserve. We share a common bond as we are all a band of escapees, refugees, pioneers, risk-takers and trend setters. We aren’t afraid to be different.
We’ve been talking about conservation and climate long before it was a national conversation. We understand responsible growth, land management, sustainability and peaceful coexistence. We celebrate mind, body, spirit. We protect our children and cherish our health. At the end of the day, we can disagree on just about anything and still come together over a home-brewed IPA or share a laugh and a toke around the campfire.
As the fires of change continue to burn and growing pains are here to stay, I think it’s important to remember who we are and what we can do. Our town, our valley and our state has been ahead of the curve for a long time and will continue to be. Now, everyone wants a piece. The trick is to make sure we stay the course, protect what we’ve created and not take it any of it for granted.
Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a Realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. Learn more about him at http://www.aspendreamhome.com.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.