Friday, August 15, 2014

Sage advice from someone who’s seen it all

Meet George W. Johnson. Today he is 98 years old and has been in the real estate business for an amazing 75 years. When he began his career in 1936 the unemployment rate in America was around 30%. Those were the days when lines at soup kitchens stretched around the block and there were a record high number of homeless persons throughout our nation. He has seen it all from the great depression to the incredible housing boom when all of the military men returned home at the end of World War II. When he says that "I've been through a lot of these ups and downs," I believe him.

Somehow in those tumultuous times Mr. Johnson managed to make it in the real estate industry. He decided to open his own office at the end of WWII and to this day works with his sons in that very same location. One of the “lowest lows” that he has experienced in his career was during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. At that time Boeing laid off more than 60,000 people in the Seattle area and the local economy took a huge hit, but Mr. Johnson managed to survive. He says that "I've lost a lot of money in a lot of things, but I've never lost in real estate," "We've done a good job.  We've been careful and honest and thorough and it's been good service, and I think that will always produce, no matter what business you're in."

So what advice does he have for all of us young folks? Mr. Johnson insists that after every housing recession the market has gone higher than the one before and you must have the patience to hold on until the time is right. ""You've got to be able to hang onto a house until conditions are such that you can make a little money". In this market, any young person that hasn't bought a house ought to buy one, a buyer’s market doesn't come along that often … you just can hardly help but make money on whatever you buy today at the prices they are." Keeping in mind that Mr. Johnson is talking about the current Seattle market his advice holds true for much of the country.

I find Mr. Johnson to be an amazing person and someone that we can all learn from. If he was able to start a booming business in the middle of the great depression than what’s our excuse? He is proof positive that a “can do” attitude and perseverance is what it takes to succeed in any business; something that we would all do well to remember.

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