Announcer: Welcome to Creating Wealth with Jason Hartman.  During this program, Jason is going to tell you some really exciting things that you probably haven’t thought of before and a new slant on investing, fresh new approaches to America’s best investment that will enable you to create more wealth and happiness than you ever thought possible.
Jason is a genuine self-made multimillionaire, who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.  He’s been a successful investor for 20 years and currently owns properties in 11 states and 17 cities.  This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to financial freedom.  You really can do it.  And now, here’s your host, Jason Hartman, with the Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors.

Jason Hartman: This is Jason Hartman.  Welcome to another edition of the Creating Wealth show.  This is Episode No.  98 and I am on my cell phone here on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.  I’m with the National Real Estate Investors Association and we have been meeting with Members of Congress today to lobby on a couple of different bills.  One is the Installment Sales Tax Treatment, getting some breaks for investors to loosen up the lending and then also the Down Payment Assistance Program.  And we’re talking to all of them of course about TARP and Health and loosening up the credit environment.  And it looks like we may get some movement there and see some looser credit in the future, hopefully to make more opportunities for investors.
Right now, I’m on Capitol Hill and there are a lot of secret service agents all around in black SUV’s and Obama was here this morning.  Washington DC, of course if you’ve been here, you know, it’s a pretty exciting, interesting place.  And it’s really been interesting to see the process today as sort of being a lobbyist for the real estate investor industry.
And before we go to the interview with Stefan Swanepoel, be sure to check out our new Do-It-Yourself Loan Modification Kit.  If you’re looking for your own personal bail-out, we have a new kit that we are producing that should be available here within the next couple of weeks and that will be available at www.JasonHartman.com.  You can save a whole bunch of money on do-it-yourself loan modifications.  I’ve modified eight of my own loans by myself.  And you can’t always do it.  Sometimes you need to bring in an expert.  But sometimes you can save a whole bunch of money doing it yourself.  Here is the interview.

Interview with Stefan Swanepoel, author of The Trends Report

Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Stefan Swanepoel to the show.  He is the author of the Trends Report which is a very highly regarded book that comes out every year and talks about trends in the real estate industry and I think you’ll be very fascinated by what he has to say today.  Why don’t you tell us what’s going on out there?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yes, the real estate market is tough as you people already know.  It’s not an easy market which we’re in and I think there’s a lot of confusion and a lot of it’s of course self-perpetuated.  I mean we have created a lot of fear I think ourselves.  A lot of it, of course, valid, but I think some of it may be blown a bit out of proportion.

Jason Hartman: So you really focus more on the business side of the business.  We’re not talking really about the consumer as much here, but we’re talking more about the real estate broker, the real estate company, the industry if you will, right?

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely, Jason, that’s right.  Of course, the two do go hand in glove together.  They’re very close.

Jason Hartman: I was just going to mention that, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: But yes, the consumer is mainly addressed by the economists and they would make all those funny predictions about you know the bottom of the market, or going up, or going down and you know, it’s so hard to guess those.  But the residential real estate agent, the broker, those franchises which you all see on the street corners, the Prudentials and the Re/Maxes and the Coldwell Bankers and the GMAC’s.  Those people all work for a real estate business, a real estate company.  And people don’t understand how big that part of the industry actually is.  At the height of the market, you know three years ago, we peaked at about 2.4 million licensed real estate agents in this country.

Jason Hartman: And about 1.2 million of those are with NAR, National Association of Realtors.

Stefan Swanepoel: About half, that’s right, Jason.  About half of them are members of the National Association of Realtors.  That’s right.

Jason Hartman: It seems like everybody you know has got a real estate license.  The driver’s license is actually a little rarer, you know?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, actually in Florida, when they pull you over for a speeding violation they actually ask you for your realtor’s license and not your driver’s license.

Jason Hartman: That’s funny.  You know this is very important to all the listeners I think, Stefan, because of course, they’re interacting with people who are in the business.  And everybody knows someone who’s in the business, if not the listener here themselves.  So, tell us what’s going on out there.  What are people doing differently based on the market and based on the economy and the environment they find themselves in?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well I think over and above the fact that everybody is scrambling to get a better understanding of, you know, what the stimulus package means and what the rebates mean and what the discounts are and what the tax relief is and what the foreclosures are and how do short sales work?  Can I lose my house?  And how much is the bank going to give me off?  And over and above the fact that we have all of that confusion in the economic, financial side of the real estate transaction, there’s a lot actually happening within the real estate transaction and the real estate participant and the real estate professional itself.
The agents and the brokers are actually undergoing a lot of fundamental change.  I mean, as you well know, a lot of the information has actually been moved onto the web.  So a lot of information which previously you had to knock on a door, walk into a real estate office, and actually have the courage to talk to a sales person and say, “I need to know something.  I want to know something,” you know you can now in your pajamas on a Saturday night in bed go onto www.wherever and you can go and find out a lot of this information.  You can do virtual tours; you can go on school tours.  You can find out school information, neighborhood information.  You can come to smart people like you and get investor information.
So a lot of it to a certain extent is available on the web.  And although that has significantly changed the buying and selling pattern and thought process of buyers, it also has confused them because a lot of that information is now sort of untethered.  It’s unscreened.  It’s uncleaned.  So you don’t know if the information which you see on the web – is it accurate?  Is it true?  What does it mean?  Who is it coming from?  Is it coming from a reputable source?  Is the information out-dated?  Is it yesterday’s news?  Has it been updated?  How frequently is it updated?  So the real estate industry itself is coming to grips in the last 15 years with this huge evolution of the automation and the web-ization of real estate data on the web.  That in its own is just one trend which is dramatically affecting the real estate agent.

Jason Hartman: And that’s a huge trend.  You know, Stefan, I remember back in the early ‘90’s, everybody knew the internet was coming.  They were talking about AT&T having a MLS.  And some of the big phone companies were going to do the National MLS and all that kind of stuff.

Stefan Swanepoel: Disintermediate agents.

Jason Hartman: Right.  Disintermediate agents.  And, you know, the web did succeed really in disintermediating travel agents, the sort of traditional old-style stock broker, and several other businesses.  But it didn’t disintermediate real estate agents.

Stefan Swanepoel: No.

Jason Hartman: And, in fact, it really empowered them.  And in many ways, I found when I was back in traditional real estate years ago, that it made my job a lot easier because, number one, I was dealing with a more educated consumer.  And they were easier to work with when they were more educated.  I wouldn’t have to do as much to educate them and they wouldn’t require as much hand-holding.  But also you know if I controlled the inventory and had the listings, they just went to the web and found me and that was so easy compared to the old way whereas I had to find them and then we had to go from there.  We had to look at every house and they didn’t eliminate a lot.  Like nowadays, they eliminate a lot.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, you’re right, Jason.  You’re right.  Back in ’94, I wrote a book called Real Estate Confronts Reality and I followed that up in 1997 with an extensive white paper Real Estate Confronts Technology and then short after that The E-consumer.  And you picked up on a lot of things there which I actually covered almost like a decade ago.  And at that stage I was saying to everybody, “You’ve got to understand, the real estate agent, the chances that he’s going to be disintermediated is probably .0001%.

Jason Hartman: And why is that?  Is that because houses are so different?  Every property is different.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yes.  You’ve hit the nail.

Jason Hartman: Even next door, one next door to the other, across the street from the other – it’s a different deal, isn’t it?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, think about it.  Everything…  we like to think of everything in the world as a commodity.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: And now, whether you go out and buy my book at Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or on my website, or you get it from you, Jason, or you buy a CD, or you buy a tire for your car.  You know, they’re basically the same.  And even if you go to travel agents – you used the example of a travel agent.  Let’s say you and I are both flying to Dallas tonight.  You know we can both fly in the same plane at the same time.

Jason Hartman: And pay a completely different price though.

Stefan Swanepoel: Exactly.  We can even sit in the same row, and pay different prices.  We can buy at the same time the ticket, but because maybe your status, your agent, your discount, your website, the place where you go to, your frequent flyer miles, you can get a different deal.  But at the end of the day, the seats on a plane are still uniform.  If I missed 1A because you’re sitting in 1A, I can get 1A probably in an hours’ time, or at least tomorrow on the same flight.
Even think about a mortgage.  If you and I have the same credit score, the same income and we’re buying the exactly the same kind of a property, the same kind of developer at the same kind of a price, could we actually get the same kind of a financial arrangement from Bank of America?  Yeah.  Why not?  Sure, probably.  So, to a certain extent, although there is customization, there is standardization of the commodity.
Now, what is the most unique commodity in the world?

Jason Hartman: A person’s house, right?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, I would probably say maybe one tad above that, maybe humans.  But you’re right because we can’t trade in humans.

Jason Hartman: Right.  Sure.

Stefan Swanepoel: So, we can’t buy and sell humans.  But of those things which we can buy, sell, and trade, you’re right.  It is probably a house because as you correctly said, even a house built by the same builder, whether it’s a KB house, or a Centex house, or a Pulte house, or a Toll Brothers house, they’re different designs.  If it’s the same design, it’s on a different lot.  You know, in California, they slide down mountains and we have earthquakes and you know.  Somebody buys the house and we renovate the kitchen and the bathroom.  So every house is unique and if every house is unique, we can’t commoditize it.  And we can only sell things through the internet through a commoditized system, if every single property, if every single house, if every single circumstance…

Jason Hartman: –is an exact commodity.

Stefan Swanepoel: Is an exact commodity and it’s not.

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  No question.

Stefan Swanepoel: So will you always need an agent?  I think you will.  Now do you need a sales person?  No, I don’t think…  You might not need a sales person any more.  And are the traditional tasks and functions done by sales people and those things that have been done by sales people over the last what – 30, 40, 50 years – do they have to change?  You betcha they have to change.  And I think real estate agents as we know them today have to forget about being a sales associate, they are no longer a sales associate.  They need to convert themselves into, I don’t know – what would you like to call them?  A real estate professional?  You know, advisors, consultants, mediators.

Jason Hartman: Counselors, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Facilitators, counselors.  Those are all kind of encapsulating descriptions of what I think a real estate professional in the future should be.

Jason Hartman: No question about it.  Yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Advise me.  Give me the knowledge which you have.  Give me the experience which you have.  Tell me what information is out there which I can lead credence to.  What can I judge my opinion on?  And what should I discard?  What is right, what is wrong?  Tell me what I don’t even know is on the web.  You know El Toro Airport close to your offices is going to be built/is not going to be built, is going to be converted into a park, is being converted into a shopping centre, and the freeway’s going to get an extra lane.  Where do you find that on the web?

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: It’s not, you know, it’s not just where you think it’s going to be.

Jason Hartman: The web really leaves a lot to the imagination, or a lot to mistakes, doesn’t it?

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely.

Jason Hartman: And you know, one of the things we talk about is the difference between – because what we do, we recommend different cities around the country in which people might want to invest.  And so we’re in 39 markets now.  And it’s amazing that people will come occasionally to one of our educational events, they’ll listen to the show here, and they’ll think, “Well, you know, Jason said Austin, Texas was a good market.  So I’m just going to go there myself, and…”

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh, big mistake.

Jason Hartman: “…and circumvent him and, you know, look on the web.  And I’ll just cut a better deal working with an agent.” But there’s a macro market, which is the city, and the micro market, which is the neighborhood.  And I give the example between you know, because we’re both local here in Orange County, Irvine and Santa Ana, contiguous cities.

Stefan Swanepoel: Big difference.

Jason Hartman: Completely different market.  Right?  And so, yeah, no question about it.  It’s very different.  It’s not a commodity.  But that kind of leads me to the next point here.  Is real estate local, or global?  What do you mean when you ask that question?

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh! Interesting question.  I think you’ve just said it when you said “every neighborhood’s different.” There’s no question that real estate is local.  I mean every street can be different.  So yes it’s local.  But when we say real estate is global at the same time, I think what we mean is that the buyer, the people who could be looking at that property, the person who you could be – you know, you work with investors, so your investor doesn’t have to come from Orange County if you’re selling him an Orange County property.  He could be in Santa Anna.  He could be in Austin, as the example.  He could be in Russia.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: At the end of the day, you know, whether it’s their currency, whether it’s converted, whether it’s our greenbacks, at the end of the day the buyers which could buy our property, be it residential, be it investment, be it commercial could theoretically come from anywhere.  And how do you find them if they’re anywhere?  In your neighborhood, the old way was, yes, boards, open houses, pointer boards, signs, street billboards.  You’re not going to hit the guy from Russia with that.  So you need the internet.  And the internet has now opened especially, I think, like your business on the investment properties, has opened the whole world as a potential market for you now to serve.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, absolutely.  You’ve got a whole stack of materials there in front of you and I don’t want to distract you with too many of my questions.  Tell us about what you’re looking at there.

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, Jason, that’s actually hard.  You know what we have in front of us is the 2008 and the 2009 Trends Report and they’re both 160 pages long.

Jason Hartman: Right and they’re great.  They’re just so innovative and so complete.  I mean the stuff you do really you’re in a total niche market.  No-one else is really doing this, are they?

Stefan Swanepoel: No.  I have no competitors.  That’s the fortunate part.  That is great.  But at the same time you know this niche market didn’t exist.  I created it.  And I created it because I think exactly like the business you do, there is a need for good quality information.  It doesn’t mind which niche.  You’re focused on the investor market.  I’m focused on the real estate agent and specifically, the real estate broker, manager, leader, and executive, who’s trying to run his company.  He’s managing agent.

Jason Hartman: With ever-thinning profit margins.

Stefan Swanepoel: You betcha.

Jason Hartman: And when I say that, I’m not talking about the economy.  I’m really talking about what happened in the ‘70’s with the advent of the 100% shops, with the rent-a-desk, and that really kind of changed the game, didn’t it?

Stefan Swanepoel: You bet.  I mean the RE/MAXes, the realty executives.  Yes.  They changed the model.  Today, you have companies like the Keller William and the EXIT Realties again changing the model.  You have a bunch of on-line dot com companies or allegedly on-line companies, let’s say like the ZipRealties and the Redfins.  They’re trying to change the model.

Jason Hartman: By the way, let’s talk about them for a minute because you know the famous 60 Minutes interview with the Redfin founder.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yes, I remember.

Jason Hartman: You know, real estate is the most dysfunctional industry in America, which I kind of agree with him when he said that.  They don’t seem to really be succeeding in changing the model that much – the ZipRealty, the kind of Redfin, the web-based, are they?  Am I reading that wrong?

Stefan Swanepoel: You know real estate brokerage, real estate agents is the last, I would say the last, stronghold of entrepreneurship, single entrepreneurship in this entire country.  If you think about it, almost every other industry has been consolidated, rolled up.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: I mean just think of the Lowes and the Home Depots and even the…

Jason Hartman: The restaurants.

Stefan Swanepoel: The restaurants, the movie houses, the bookstores.

Jason Hartman: Everything, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: The food stores.  Real estate hasn’t.  And if you said to me, “Well, what about Coldwell Banker and Realogy and those kinds of companies?” Remember, they’re still franchises and they like to say on every piece of stationery, “independently owned and operated” which means that at the end of the day, it’s the broker down right at the bottom and then that broker, who in many cases has a manager managing an office, appoints agents.  And event that agent is the famous independent contractor.  He’s not an employee.  So right down from Realogy, through Coldwell Banker, through the regions, through the branches down to the manager, to the agent we have an independent contractor, who in terms of the law and his contract, basically can do what he wants to do.  So although he’s playing the game within the confines of his company and he carries a brand and he carries a business card, he can do a lot of things his way.  So when we try and change an industry, whether it’s the Redfins, or even the RE/MAXes, where I think you used to work at one stage.

Jason Hartman: For 12 years.

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh, for 12 years.  Wow.  You know, now even RE/MAX, when they started in ’73, they didn’t change the industry in ’73.  They didn’t change it in ’74.

Jason Hartman: Right.  It’s a lot slower than people think.  Yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Exactly.

Jason Hartman: It takes a long time.

Stefan Swanepoel: It takes really the best part of maybe one to one and a half decades for a company which has established a new concept to get it entrenched, get it out in the field, get the buy-in from the industry, prove the model, show the model and then actually, if the timing is right, get the benefit of an upswing in the market.

Jason Hartman: So do you see a future for like the ZipRealty type, Redfin thing?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah! Sure.

Jason Hartman: You think that’s a good model?

Stefan Swanepoel: I think there is a lot of room for an online kind of a model which has a different kind of spin on real estate.  I don’t think that you necessarily need hundreds and hundreds of Century 21 corner offices opposite the McDonald’s on every street corner.  I’m at the same time not saying that you don’t need an office.  It’s a good thing to have an office.  People like to touch and feel.  They like to know that Jason, you’re here.  You know if I have a problem with my investment property and I have a crisis, I can come knock on your door.

Jason Hartman: Kind of a clicks and bricks model.  You’re right, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: You can’t run away, you know, sort of you can run but you can’t hide.  If you’re purely an online model, I think there are many people, especially the baby boomers which might still be a little bit reluctant to buy into the model.  The younger generation, I have kids 21, 23.  I mean, they live on cyberspace.  They live on Facebook.  They live on MySpace.  So they might be less inclined to go into an office.  But you know at the end of the day they do their shopping online, they do all their negotiations online, they look at the prices online, they look at Best Buy.  At the end of the day, they don’t order online, they get in a car and go to Best Buy and go pick it up.

Jason Hartman: Because they want it now maybe.

Stefan Swanepoel: They want it now.  They want to see it; they want to touch it, too.

Jason Hartman: Okay, interesting.  Tell us more about the model changing and what you’ve got in front of you, if you would?

Stefan Swanepoel: You know what I’d like to do is those people, whether they are real estate agents, or brokers, or even maybe some of your other people that have other kind of businesses, I think this is equally applicable to all of them, that when you try and convert your existing bricks business to a clicks business, or something in between, some smorgasbord, you’ve got to create a legitimate marketing channel, a legitimate internet channel.  You can’t just go and go to some cyber-squatter and go buy a million emails for 99 bucks and think you can just now spend the Tom, Dick and Harry out of everybody.  You know that is so 10 years ago.  We can’t do that.  There are so many checks and balances.
So you’ve got to create a legitimate channel and by that you’ve got to create a way in which you communicate with your customers, be those customers home buyers, or in your case, maybe investors, or in somebody else’s case, maybe somebody’s buying hamburgers or pizzas.  But you’ve got to create a legitimate channel with those people.  So you’ve got to give them what they want.  You’ve got to send them – and people would say to me, “Well, how frequently do I send them a newsletter, or email them?”
Well, you can email me as frequently as you like, depending on the quality of what you’re sending me.  If you send me good stuff, Jason, you can send me every week.  But boy, if you’re going to send me crap, then I don’t want to see it once a year.  So the better the quality, the more frequently you can send me something.  At the same time, you’ve got to make sure that you are going to stand out.  I came in here to your offices and I was looking at your big TV screens up here.  I was looking at your wall, and I was reading the stuff.  You’re trying to set yourself apart.  You’re trying to show that you’re different, that Platinum Properties is a different kind of a company, that you offer a different kind of a service.  Now, the agent, the broker, the consumer, if you’re sending out a piece of email, you’ve got to do the same with the email.  How do you show that that email which I’m receiving from you, Jason, or from anybody else is a better email?  Is a different email?

Jason Hartman: What is it consumers want?  I mean, do they want you know neighborhood information?  They can kind of get this themselves if they know where to go, or they bother to look.  I mean email marketing, that’s a really good point you bring up.  You know, what should real estate brokers and agents be sending via email to consumers?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, again I think you were very close to the right answer when you started off.  Consumers don’t want to know about the things which do not affect them.  They don’t want to know about things in other cities, other towns.  We can go to CNN for that kind of news.  What we want to receive is something personal, something about local.

Jason Hartman: Local.  Something about local relevance.

Stefan Swanepoel: Exactly.  My school, my church, my neighborhood, my street, you know, if my neighbor sold his house, how much was that sold for?

Jason Hartman: Micro, micro, micro.  That’s interesting.  Yeah, okay.

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely.  If you could, can give me that stuff, now you can say, “It’s on the web.” It’s sometimes hard to find that on the web.  You know, you really have to know where exactly, you know if the one across the street is now being rented, where do you find out that price?  Not that easy to do.
But if I’m getting a newsletter from a trusted advisor, as you said from my real estate counselor, or consultant – let’s say you, Jason, you’re sending me something and you and I’ve had a relationship for 10 years.  I trust you, Jason.  You’ve helped me with two deals.  You’ve put me in two houses.  You’ve done this; you’ve even helped me buy an investment property.  And now you send me an email and you tell me that two streets away from me something’s happening.  Whether it’s positive or negative, I’m going to take that information seriously.  I’m going to take it to heart.  I’m probably going to call you or email you back and say, “Jason, I read your newsletter and your newsletter said a, b, c.  Jason, tell me.  What is that going to do to my real estate?  What’s that going to do to my home?” And I’m going to value your opinion because we’ve become not friends necessarily; we’ve become business acquaintances and a trusted advisor.

Jason Hartman: There’s the backdrop of a relationship there so yeah, that’s good.  Talk to us a little bit.  You know when you look around the world and I’ve travelled extensively.  I’ve been to 52 countries and you know, it’s odd that other countries they don’t have MLS – Multiple Listing Service.

Stefan Swanepoel: No, they don’t.

Jason Hartman: And you know, if there is one thing that has revolutionized the real estate industry, it is the Multiple Listing Service, the MLS.  Are there any international trends going on out there that are big global trends that affect people on a local level when it comes to real estate or their career in real estate?

Stefan Swanepoel: Interesting question and this year we’ve been looking at global trends for I think five or six years now and expanded on it.  So, I’ll give you a quick flashback to the previous reports and then I’m going to focus on what we said this year.  Previously, we’ve always looked at U.S. companies like the one you used to work at, RE/MAX.  But there’s also companies like ERA, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, Century 21, Casa Latino, which have all expanded their brands globally.  And RE/MAX, for argument sake, I think they signed their 73rd franchise last month and I think it was India, if I remember correctly.
So many of our traditional real estate brands have, like the Nikes and the McDonald’s, taken the brand globally.  And we’ve planted the flag in Australia, or Germany, or wherever.  And we’ve said, “Here we are, the Americans love us.” And you know, they don’t always love us.  They’ll always love us the first time around and we’re sometimes arrogant as Americans.  And we come into this country and we think we’ll do it our way.  And then we find out, wow, you know?  There are local rules in Germany and Australia and China and Hungary and wherever it is.

Jason Hartman: The customs are very different.

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely.

Jason Hartman: You know, like here in the U.S., people trade their real estate all the time.  Whereas, in other countries they keep their house, you know if it’s a personal residence.  They don’t sell it too often, you know?

Stefan Swanepoel: In many countries in Europe, it’s been in the family for hundreds of years.  And as you said, no MLS, so maybe there’s no commission structure.  There are many companies in the Eastern Block, Europe countries where there’s no association, there’s no licensing laws.  There’s no continuing education.

Jason Hartman: I know.  I was looking at real estate I said on one of my prior shows.  I went on a five country Eastern European trip.  I looked at properties with agents.

Stefan Swanepoel: What an eye-opener, huh?

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  In Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, etc.  None of them have licenses.  They’re just like some guy.  Oh, I’m going to sell real estate, you know?

Stefan Swanepoel: And the taxi driver, you know?

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: He’ll show you the sights and he’ll sell you real estate at the same time.  So we go plant a flag there.  We open an office, whatever franchise it is, and we think we can do what we want.  And we can’t.  And what happens is, after a year or two, at least one thing the Americans are good at – we’re entrepreneurs.  And after finding out that we can’t do it our way, we say, “Okay, well, let’s do it their way.” And then we learn some of the local rules and customs and systems.  We hire some local people and we tweak our model and that’s the good thing.  We re-engineer our model and then we do, usually round about year two, three, four, five, we become successful.
And if you go to many of these countries today, we are actually successful in many of these foreign countries as American franchises.  Now what’s not really happened up ‘til now, and that’s what we focused on in the 2009 Report, Jason, and that’s the interesting part.  America is a big country and as a result of that the RE/MAXes, the Coldwell Bankers, The Prudentials are huge franchises.  I mean we’re talking 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 offices.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: And some of them are–

Jason Hartman: And 50,000 agents.

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh, absolutely.  And people like RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker and Century 21 have even broken the 100,000 mark at one stage.

Jason Hartman: Oh, wow.

Stefan Swanepoel: I think they’ve dropped down now.  But they were over 100,000 at one stage.  Now if you go to countries like, let’s take a Western country, maybe like England or Germany, or Australia, New Zealand, or even South Africa, those countries, although they have real estate markets which are to a certain extent similar to our customs, different but similarities – meaning that they buy and sell real estate on a secondary market.  There is a middle person usually called an agent or a sales associate.  He or she owns a real estate commission; although it might fluctuate from not being what we charge, but a different fee.  And they might have a different marketing system, not our MLS.  They do buy and sell houses and real estate like we do.  If you go to those countries, the real estate companies which have dominated those markets, the local ones, have generally been small.  Let’s go to Australia.

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  Small, independent companies.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, 100 offices! South Africa, 100 offices.  Put a 100-office company here in America, no big deal. They would disappear amongst our 1,000-offices companies.  But during the 2000 to 2005, 2006, depending which country you’re in, the housing boom we had worldwide, those companies have increased in size.  And some of them doubled, tripled, or quadrupled in size.  And they’ve now reached the size where they’ve got critical mass.  They made profits.  They’ve got momentum.  And do you know what happened in the last couple of five years?  I’m calling it the “jumping of oceans”.  You’ve actually seen companies jump oceans.  Now it’s hard enough in the U.S., if you’re California-based, to go and open an office in Arizona, or New Mexico, or Texas because the laws are different.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: You’ve got to go register.  You can’t take your California License, Jason, and just go sell properties in Texas.  You’ve got to go take the real estate license again.

Jason Hartman: Sure.

Stefan Swanepoel: Now, if it’s difficult from here to Texas, how difficult would it be from here to Africa?

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: I mean seriously difficult.

Jason Hartman: Talk about culture shock, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah.  It’s jumping an ocean.

Jason Hartman: But jumping an ocean for the big companies which we’ve mentioned, the big American brands, that has had its challenges, but their budgets are so deep and their brands are so big.  I mean they’ve done it pretty successfully.

Stefan Swanepoel: But it’s now happening in reverse.

Jason Hartman: You’re talking about the Australian company that’s jumping over to New Zealand, right?  And maybe elsewhere?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, we’ve now had a New Zealand company; I think the company’s been around something like 150 years that jumped from New Zealand to Australia.  Basically, conquered Australia by getting into the top three, then went up through those islands up there in the Indian Ocean, jumped into Asia, went into Malaysia and Singapore, and Thailand and Korea, and China and Russia.  And then said, “Wow, let’s jump into South Africa,” bought a company there for 150 offices in South Africa, and now they’re looking at America.

Jason Hartman: Wow.

Stefan Swanepoel: That’s movement.

Jason Hartman: That is amazing.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, Harcourts.

Jason Hartman: I mean for it to go that direction.

Stefan Swanepoel: Awesome.

Jason Hartman: Yeah right.

Stefan Swanepoel: There’s another good example which I’d like to cite, Engel and Volkers.  I mean hard to pronounce it.  This is a German company.  I think they were born in the 1970’s, early ‘70’s about the time of RE/MAX.  Conquered Germany in the 1970’s and 80’s, struggled a little bit to expand in the 1990’s into Europe.  By the end of the 1990’s and the beginning of the 2000’s, basically conquered Europe.  And by that, I mean they became one of the top three companies in Europe as a whole.  So they went into the France and the Spains, and the Portugals, and the Belgians, and the Netherlands, and the Englands.  And then they said, you know like four or five years ago, three, four, five years ago, they said, “Well, let’s go to Dubai.” You know?  A very sexy place to be in, Dubai.

Jason Hartman: Right, yeah.  Talk about a bubble.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah.  Absolutely.  So they jumped into Dubai and then they said, “Well, can we go into Russia?  Can we go into China?” And then two years ago, they said, “What about the U.S.?”  And they quietly, quietly snuck into Florida without telling anybody.  Opened some offices, tested their concept, and they’ve got a really innovate concept, tested it, tweaked it, changed it, tweaked it, changed it, then opened one up in Connecticut.  And what’s happened in the last four or five years, they’ve opened about 40 offices in the U.S. and we’ve barely noticed them.  They’re officially now the fastest growing franchise in the U.S.

Jason Hartman: That’s amazing.  That is really amazing.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, it is.  It’s a cool story.

Jason Hartman: I bet not a listener listening to this knows them.  What’s their model?  What’s so unique about them?

Stefan Swanepoel: You know in America, real estate franchises have no uniformity.  We don’t follow like a shop franchise concept.  A shop franchise concept is like a McDonald’s.  In and out.  Wendy’s, Burger King.

Jason Hartman: Where the actual physical office is identical in colors and everything?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah.

Jason Hartman: Okay, right.  Yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: That’s it.  I mean they look pretty much the same: the layout, the people, the clothes they wear, the menu, the pricing, the system.  You know how long you cook the fries, where you buy your burgers, whether you have Coke or Pepsi, pretty standardized.

Jason Hartman: Sure.

Stefan Swanepoel: In real estate, we have none of that.  So no two Century 21 offices are basically…

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  It’s sort of like you have the logo, you have maybe in the reception area there’s a touch of the color scheme.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, maybe.

Jason Hartman: And the letterhead looks the same.  But you know, yeah, but that’s it.

Stefan Swanepoel: But the systems and the way the offices are run are pretty much as the broker wants to do it.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: Aha, come in Engle and Volkers.  Not the same.  Engle and Volkers says, “Let’s do the shop franchise concept.” If you’re buying a franchise from me, I’m going to tell you how big your shop has to be.  And they don’t call it an office.  They don’t call it a franchise.  They call it a shop.  And they actually put it in a shopping center, in a shopping mall, on a high street, high volume, high foot traffic location.  And they’ll even tell you the color of paint of the walls.  And it’s white.  You will make the shop look, feel, function, both front office and back office, the same.

Jason Hartman: Okay.  So, my question for you – well, I’m going to sort of make this a big question because when you look at it at the agent level, Stefan, I have long thought that the biggest problem with the real estate industry is the phrase “independent contractor”.  That same thing applies to the broker/owner doesn’t it?  I mean you know, do you think that individuality is good or bad?  Apparently, this non-individualistic concept is catching on real well.

Stefan Swanepoel: You know I think this non-individual concept was – you know it wasn’t always like that?  If you go back to the ‘40’s and the ‘50’s, it wasn’t quite like that.  We had a much more structured real estate system.  So, we have, over time, because of changes in legislation, the way the people were taxed, the way the people were held accountable and errors and omissions, and the independence of the RE/MAXes of the world, and even the training of the CRS’s and some of the training of NAR has in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s and the ‘80’s, we almost pushed the agent out of the office.  We almost created an environment and today yes, it is the system which is loved.
Why?  Because the baby boomers of today know no other system.  That is the system which they’ve grown up with.  And yes, I would say that the majority of real estate agents today, if you said to them, you should become a salaried employee, they’re going to say, “No! I don’t wanna be!” But I will tell you, at the same time, there is no question that there is a certain chunk of the industry which would like a 401K, would like a medical fund, would like a more consistent professional job.
If we can change life insurance sales people selling you a death policy by knocking on your door, and we change them to financial planners, working for American Express and they become Life Advisors or Financial Consultants, if we can change that industry, I think our real estate industry is going to go the same way.  And your kids and my kids I think will go to college, can and might pick real estate as their permanent full-time career and might go and work for a company like, I don’t know, maybe an Engle & Volkers, maybe a Bank of America, maybe a Home Depot.  Who knows?

Jason Hartman: I mean, Stefan, I gotta tell you, you know, having managed agents for so many years –

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh, my deepest sympathy.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, really.  Thank you.  But you know, in my traditional company, it’s not really the same here with the investment side, but I mean the work habits are abysmal.  They’re terrible.  These people are – they don’t work! It is unbelievable.

Stefan Swanepoel: Let’s rephrase it a different way a little bit, Jason.  I truly–

Jason Hartman: I mean 90% of them don’t work and 10% does great.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, that’s right.

Jason Hartman: There’s no question, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: That’s the uniqueness of the real estate industry.  They are truly, truly a very diverse group of people and I love them dearly.  And you have on the left-hand side you have some of the most professional, ethical, well educated.  I mean you would take these guys home to mom.

Jason Hartman: Top notch people, yeah.  I would, yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Top notch.

Jason Hartman: Absolutely.

Stefan Swanepoel: And then on the other side of the spectrum, oh my goodness.  Where did they crawl out of?

Jason Hartman: It’s like, you know, on that other side of the spectrum – the “oh my goodness side” is you know, this person obviously couldn’t get a real job.  So maybe this sort of corporatization, if they become W2 employees and have benefits and have a more specific path in which to follow, is that going to be good for the consumer?  I think it is.

Stefan Swanepoel: I think with more accountability, with standardization, with uniformity, with technology, with corporatization, and the evolution of where the industry is going to, most likely the industry is going to end up there in the next decade or two.  That’s where we’re moving towards.  It might be a slow move.  We might be kicking and screaming all the way, but I think slowly but surely, we are going to become some kind of a corporatized, structurized, more professionalized industry.  Yes.

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  Good.  I think that will be good for the consumer ultimately.  Hey, before we go on to the social media stuff, one more thing I want to ask you about those international markets?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah.

Jason Hartman: You know, your opinion of – I don’t know why it is that in other countries there is no Multiple Listing Service.  What do you think that leads to for the consumer because we’ve looked at recommending various foreign markets to our investor clients and we just haven’t done it yet, because we still think the best deals are really in the gold old U.S.A. here?  The MLS really makes the market a more perfect market, doesn’t it?  Whereas, in a foreign country, you’ve got all these off-plan developments and there’s no price continuity.  There are no good comps.

Stefan Swanepoel: You’ve got to understand where it actually came from, Jason.  You know, back when we ended the Second World War in the late ‘40’s and the G.I. Bill came into place, suddenly we had a lot of building taking place in this country, and we were trying to house millions and millions and millions of people.  And we started the concept of tract housing.  We started building large developments, which had a lot of similarity on floor plans.  And that similarity, whether it’s in houses, or apartments, or any kind of duplex, or simplexes, or tract housing, is ideal for uniformity standardization and multiple listing systems.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: If you go to Europe, you know many of these houses were built hundreds of years ago.

Jason Hartman: Oh, even a thousand years ago.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah!

Jason Hartman: I stayed in a hotel in Paris that was built like in 1100 AD.

Stefan Swanepoel: There is no uniformity there! Each house is architecturally designed by somebody and it is so unique because it’s been changed over thousands of years.

Jason Hartman: Right.  But there are a lot of areas around the U.S.  For example, in our area right here, in the hills of Tustin, Cowan Heights, North Santa Ana where the houses are very different, but still MLS is a useful tool, isn’t it?

Stefan Swanepoel: I think it’s because the MLS has become to dominate.  Remember, that MLS officially goes back to 1888, when it was started in San Diego?  So, we’re talking about a long time ago.

Jason Hartman: Really?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yes.

Jason Hartman: It’s that old?

Stefan Swanepoel: It’s documented–

Jason Hartman: Who the heck invented the MLS?  You know, this guy should have a – he should be, or his family –

Stefan Swanepoel: Five gold stars!

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  They should be earning royalties galore.

Stefan Swanepoel: I tracked it down in a library that there was a documented indication that brokers got together in 1888 in San Diego around a kind of a party, a cocktail to share listings.

Jason Hartman: A plug-in-one session.

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely.

Jason Hartman: Wow.

Stefan Swanepoel: But do not underestimate the power.  I think, that the foreign countries – there’s a nice company up in San Francisco called Proxio.  They’ve created what I would almost call a ‘Global MLS’.  And what’s happening here is, they’re taking – it’s run by two people that used to work for I think the San Francisco Association of Realtors.  They left, created their own company.  They’ve taken the concept of MLS and they’ve basically put it on the web.  And they’ve gone with this to France.  They’ve gone with this to Europe.  And they’ve said to them, “You don’t have to have a computer and a back office.  You can basically put your listings on the web.” And now many foreign–

Jason Hartman: I meant that’s not really such a big idea if you think about it.

Stefan Swanepoel: No! And suddenly countries are becoming, call it “MLS-ed” very quickly by going on the web.  And I think that a Global MLS or MLS in countries across the world is no more than maybe two to five years away.

Jason Hartman: It seems like it might prevent the consumer from making a big mistake and over-paying for a property and give them an opportunity to establish a value more reliably.

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, it’s like what you do.  It’s like what I do, isn’t it?  The more information, the more quality information; the more information a consumer has access to, on the condition, of course, that it is qualified, that it is good information, the better position he will be to take a qualified decision.

Jason Hartman: So when you talk about that, you mentioned when we first started today about how some of the information on the web is out-dated.  It leads to incorrect conclusions and all of this.  I have to just ask you, Stefan, what do you think of things like Zillow because we have clients that go on Zillow and sometimes it’s pretty good, and sometimes it’s out to lunch?  I mean it’s all over the board.  And I just tell everybody use things like Zillow with caution because it’s not always really that accurate.

Stefan Swanepoel: You know, I think that’s a wise recommendation from you.  I would use almost everything from the web with caution because you don’t know necessarily where it comes from.  Zillow is a good company.  Zillow is a great company.  There are companies like Realtor.com, which the NAR is involved with.  There’s Trulia, there’s House Values, there’s HomeGain.  So there’s a string of those companies.  They all try and do the best they can.  But they source information from different places.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: You know, sometimes it’s from agents.  Sometimes it’s scraped from websites.  Sometimes it’s piped through IDX feeds.  Sometimes it’s updated.  Sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes it comes from the local authority.  Sometimes they get it from a good source like First American or Fidelity Title.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: But you know the information at the moment is in hundreds of different silos across the world.

Jason Hartman: And now it’s trying to be that – that aggregation is hard to be put together in one place.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, it’s hard.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, it’s really hard.

Stefan Swanepoel: So, go check the sites out, no question.  At the end of the day, still come back to Jason.  Still come back to your trusted real estate professional consultant, advisor.  Go to a broker.  Go to a realtor.  Go to somebody you know.  Let them help you verify the information, yes.

Jason Hartman: Good.  Good advice, Stefan.  Okay.  So talk to us about social media.  I mean this stuff is changing the world: Linked-In, Facebook, all this kind of stuff.  What’s going on there in the real estate world?

Stefan Swanepoel: You know it’s completely exploded.  It’s almost like it’s created this second world.  And you know originally, people like you and I probably thought it was something for our kids, our nice little kids.

Jason Hartman: I did at first until I started using Facebook extensively, and I love it.

Stefan Swanepoel: A couple of years ago, we would see these young people Twittering or being on Facebook or putting their profile out there and we thought, wow, this is just an extension of maybe Saga Genesis or X-Box or Warcraft or something like that.  And originally, it was.  So MySpace was for high school kids and Facebook was predominantly for people at Harvard and Stanford and those kinds of stuff.  But they’ve changed.  And as those companies were acquired by Corporate America, they changed the profile, the structure, the rules, and the regulations.  And Facebook today – there are more people on Facebook that are transacting business and conducting can I say, “Grown-up business”?  Can I say, “Real Business”?  Rather than people just putting up stupid profiles and what they had for lunch and for dinner last night.  There’s no question that that component is still on Facebook and on Twitter.

Jason Hartman: But I gotta say in defense of that type of status update, if you will, that sort of helps people get to know each other, doesn’t it?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, it does.  It’s got a human touch to it, a human element.

Jason Hartman: As corny as it seems because you know if I call you up and we’re just buddies and it’s not a business conversation, but I’m just calling you on the weekend or whatever, I’m going to say, “Hey, what are you doing?” That’s going to be my first question, right?

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, exactly.  And you’re going to tell me that you went to a show, or you went to a sports game.  Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Hartman: Sure.

Stefan Swanepoel: So, I think you’re right, it just depends.  I try to tend to keep my personal life generally separate from my business life.  And I do share things privately, or my personal life on the web.  I have a Facebook page and I’m on Twitter.  But I share only a certain part because I don’t know who’s reading it.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: So, I’m not going to say those things which I would be embarrassed about, or which is very intimate.  I will tell them, “Yeah, I’m going to a show.” Or that I’m going to come and see Jason today.  So when we’re finished with this interview and you might post it, you might send me a copy and I’ll share it with all of my Twitter people and all of my Facebook people.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: So, I do think that you can share those kinds of things.  But there is such a large – there are literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of social and business networks.  And the hard part is not getting involved with them.  The hard part is trying to say where am I going to find enough time to spend 15 minutes or 30 minutes every day because going online on Facebook or Twitter or Linked-in or Plaxo, or if you’re going to be in the real estate side on Active Rain or Real Town, or in [inaudible] or the Real Estate Weekly, or Broker Agents Social, you can only spend so much time on a day.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: And I don’t think that you should give it to your secretary.  I don’t think you should give it to your assistant, because at the end of the day then it becomes almost like a spam email again.  If I go on Facebook and I’ve got my face there and you’ve got your face there and I’m sending you a little in-mail or in-communication, I want to know I’m talking to you, Jason.  And if I’m talking to an assistant, put her picture up.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, exactly.  And she might be better looking, too.

Stefan Swanepoel: She might!

Jason Hartman: So I just went to Facebook and requested that we become friends and I see that we have six mutual friends already!

Stefan Swanepoel: Excellent.

Jason Hartman: I didn’t know that.  Bernice Ross, I interviewed her and several other people.  Yeah.  What else does this social networking revolution mean to people?  I mean it’s a way to get business.  It’s a way to manage relationships and leverage those relationships, right?

Stefan Swanepoel: You know, it’s a way to manage relationships.  It’s also a way to expand your circle of influence.  I mean suddenly you’ve got the globe at your feet, at your fingertips.  You can suddenly communicate with people which are geographically, product-wise, social-wise, in any kind of way like-minded to you.  It might be somebody that say says, “Well, I like Ayn Rand or I like the TV program “24”, or I live in Orange County.”

Jason Hartman: I love both of those things.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah!

Jason Hartman: John Galt and Jack Bauer.

Stefan Swanepoel: Absolutely.

Jason Hartman: Two heroes.

Stefan Swanepoel: So there you find commonality and you know it’s easier now to find maybe new kinds of friends.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying, “I like Jack Bauer, or who is John Galt?” And suddenly we find a kinship in that author or that TV program or that sports team, or that geographical area.  So yes, use the web.  Use those social media to grow your business.
But don’t just keep on pushing products down your throat.  At the end of the day, it’s all about building relationships, and how good you are at providing other people quality and meaningful information.  They’ll want to become your friends if they know they can go to the web and suddenly when they go to your website, they’re reading excellent posts about something which they would be interested in.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, that’s great.  In your book you have a portion that talks about the energy crisis and maybe what’s happening with housing and green housing and stuff like that.  You want to touch on that for just a minute?

Stefan Swanepoel: It’s a very hard part and one of the reasons I did not jump into it really early in our discussion is because it is so unique to a specific geographical area.  If you read through the report and the report covers a variety of cities and towns and places, it actually will tell you which cities are considered to be more ‘green’ or which are more public transport friendly and where prices might have a lower or a higher impact.  So, clearly, places where there is good public transport you could maybe live further out away from the city.  But where we have like in California, we have traffic congestion on the freeways and sprawl, yes; a spike in the oil prices is going to change gas prices, which is going to change what we buy, where we buy, how frequently.  You know, are you willing to spend two hours on the 91 Freeway every day, one way, going to work?  You know, so it’s hard to live the other side of Riverside or Palm Springs if you’re working at Los Angeles International Airport.

Jason Hartman: One of the mantras was, “Drive until you Qualify”.  So you have to drive from your place of work until you qualify for a loan.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah.  So you know, there is no question that the energy prices will affect property developments in the future.  But it is a very localized area.  It is very hard to make a national prediction on how it’s going to change it.

Jason Hartman: And then, of course, the home-based business revolution has a huge impact there too.

Stefan Swanepoel: It has again the opposite impact.

Jason Hartman: Right.  Well, yeah.  In a good way, actually.

Stefan Swanepoel: Exactly.  In a good way.  Many many people actually say, with the evolution of the – they call it the “virtual office” or the “virtual assistant” – who cares where you work.

Jason Hartman: Right.

Stefan Swanepoel: Well, you know that’s true to a large extent because many occupations can be done virtually.  But then again, there are many things which can’t.  You know the guy serving the hamburger or giving me the hamburger, has still got to be behind the counter to give me the hamburger.

Jason Hartman: Sure.

Stefan Swanepoel: Or the lady’s who’s going to check me on the plane has still got to be at the airport counter or the checking gate.  So there are certain things which we can’t quite make virtual.

Jason Hartman: Yeah, no question about it.  Just in closing, you know, one of the great things about your Trends Report is you talk about the top ten events, top ten trends.  Do you want to touch on any of those before we go?  And then we’ll just kind of wrap it up.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, what we do every year is because we try to look back at the previous year, not because the previous year is important, but it’s important to see where we came from.  We don’t try to call these predictions.  We’re not the Dali Lama.  We don’t make predictions about next year, but if you look at what happened in the last 12, 18, 24 months, you can usually draw a line.  You can usually see a pattern.  Even the Coldwell Bankers, or the Realogy’s, or the ZipRealties weren’t born over night.  It took some time for those companies to develop.  So in the case, for argument sake, let’s call it the “Trendsetters for 2008”, we put Brookfield in the number one position.  Why?

Jason Hartman: The builder?

Stefan Swanepoel: No! No, actually not.  This is a Canadian company.  They have construction arms and they do own shopping centers and they do own commercial, but they actually are known, in my circle, for owning the franchise Royal LePage.  And Royal LePage is the largest Canadian-based…

Jason Hartman: Real estate company.

Stefan Swanepoel: …Canadian operated real estate brokerage company.  And they now have been trying to expand into the U.S. for quite some time.  They’ve struggled, not quite been successful.  And last year they went ahead and bought the GMAC franchise which came on the auction block when GM decided to disinvest out of the real estate industry.  And by buying that franchise, they bought a thousand outlets across the country – major move.  So here they’re already the biggest Canadian franchise, Canadian home-grown franchise, and now they own one of the top five, top six U.S.-based franchises.  So suddenly, Brookfield has become a major player.  And obviously, they can’t keep the name GMAC because one of the condition was they had to change it.  So we know that the GMAC franchise is going to change its brand.  So there’s a trendsetter.

Jason Hartman: Which probably isn’t bad anyway, that wasn’t a real good name.  Yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: No.  Not bad at all.  Yeah.

Jason Hartman: Any other trends or events we should know about?

Stefan Swanepoel: Well you know, Keller Williams has been growing very rapidly in the last couple of years and I think that that’s a franchise which one should take notice of.  They’ve actually been going against the trend.  So where you’ve seen some of the big franchises really contract, they’ve been doing very, very well.  We’ve mentioned earlier on Casa Latino which is the first or only or largest Latino Hispanic-based franchise. They’ve been growing very rapidly.

Jason Hartman: Huge market buy, that’s a good idea.  Yeah.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yeah, very nice market.  Engle and Volkers, I like that shop franchise concept.  I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I think they’re going to grow.  We can’t end the year without talking what happened in the financial markets, Freddy, Fanny, the banks.  You know that on its own is just a huge market in its own and we have to discuss that.  We can’t ignore that.  But at the end of the day, as bad as 2008 was, it’s not going to permanently shape our future.  Yes, it’s impacted our life, it’s shaped our life, and it will impact us probably for another six months, nine months, to a year.  But it is not going to hold us hostage forever.  The market will rebound.  I think you told me just now that you worked for RE/MAX for 12 years and you’ve been in the market what’s it 20, 25 years?

Jason Hartman: 23 years.

Stefan Swanepoel: Twenty-three years?  And I’ve now been in it 26 years.  So we’ve all seen a down market.  And we’ve all seen that it comes around and it turns back up.  We will have a good market again, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month.  It might take a couple of months.  It might be next year.  But it will rebound.  And that’s why we should never look back at yesterday and with a negative feeling feel like it’s the end of the world.  It isn’t by a long shot.

Jason Hartman: It always seems like it when you’re in it though.

Stefan Swanepoel: Boy does it ever.

Jason Hartman: But remember there’s a big picture and you know there are still six and a half billion people on Earth that need a place to live.

Stefan Swanepoel: Yes.  And we will still this year in the U.S. resell; still sell between four and five million houses.

Jason Hartman: Wow.

Stefan Swanepoel: That is still a lot of houses.  So there are still 10 million transactions sides for real estate professionals to make commission from and to help somebody move into a house.

Jason Hartman: Yeah.  That’s great.  So where can people go to find out more and get your Trend Reports?

Stefan Swanepoel: Jason, they can buy the report from RE – RE of course an acronym for Real Estate – so www.retrends.com is the website which is dedicated to this report.  They can, of course, also download a variety of free articles, white papers, reports which I’ve done in the past.  The current one is for sale on that site.  Or at any time, they can also go to www.Swanepoel.com if they’d like to book me for any kind of speaking engagement.

Jason Hartman: And you are a great speaker, by the way.  I’m going to put that in.

Stefan Swanepoel: Oh, thank you.

Jason Hartman: It’s so fascinating to hear from you.

Stefan Swanepoel: Thank you very much.  That’s very kind.  There’s also a free Trends Update Newsletter if they’d like to subscribe to it, complementary on that website.

Jason Hartman: Excellent.  Well, Stefan, thank you so much for joining us today.  And we’ll look forward to staying in touch with your material and keep up the good work out there.

Stefan Swanepoel: Jason, thank you very much.  And good luck to you and all of your investor friends.  Take care.
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Duration:  52 minutes