Realtors bond over tough times

May 19, 2011: 6:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's no fun to be a realtor these days: home prices are sinking, delinquencies are up, and stricter regulations are coming.

So the mood at the convention for the National Association of Realtors last weekend in Washington, D.C., was understandably sober.

And yet, those in attendance were working hard to stay upbeat.

Matt Cohen was in from Minneapolis. He's in the tech side of the industry, handling multiple listing services for realtors.

"You can't let yourself get down," Cohen said during a break. "You just have to be positive. Move things forward. Try to make things better."

He knows what some of the realtors here have been going through.

"In many markets, between 45% and 60% of the members have not done a transaction in the past year! There are not a lot of listings to go around. And the prices are down so the commission checks are smaller -- it's a very difficult market for everybody." (See also "Top 10 turnaround towns")

Cohen said he was glad to get together with his colleagues in these tough times. "This meeting doesn't change the business environment, the challenges. But we can discuss how we can work together and help each other as a community. And that's a wonderful feeling." Podcast: Scenes from the Realtors' convention

Tammie Tucker tweeted from the convention to her fellow realtors back home in Springfield, Missouri, including the ones who couldn't afford to attend.

She said her market hasn't been hit as hard as others. "But it's definitely the hardest market I've seen since I've been in the business," which is 22 years.

Hers, like many other markets, has lost realtors to the downturn.

National Association of Realtors membership has declined 21% since 2006, to 1.06 million, according to Inman News.

She said the ones who are left are focused on the basics: helping families make responsible, educated decisions. And keeping upbeat about the future.

"We are making some strides; the market is improving," she said.

This was the semi-annual realtors' convention. They were here to lobby lawmakers to make realtors' jobs easier. And to engage in a little convention-as-therapy.

Ron Phipps, president of the realtors' association, spoke about what his colleagues are doing to deal with the stress.

"Some of us like me, run. I do lots of running -- I do a fair amount of swimming."

He said what makes it hard for realtors is that they deal directly with families dealing with the same challenges.

"And we have to figure out how to fix it. There's a tremendous stress to that. Because for us it's personal. We're facing them. And they're saying, okay I can't make my mortgage payment. What do I do? Who do I call?"

Phipps said he's talked to realtors who've dealt with the stress in different ways. This year, for stress relief, the convention offered yoga. Rent vs. Buy: 10 cities rated
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