Inspiration for 'When the World Goes Upside Down' | John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Inspiration for ‘When the World Goes Upside Down’

When you spend 11 years worried about a bomb landing on your head and then start your own company only to see your country’s currency become worthless, you develop a level of grit and perspective that helps you see clearly in tough times.

In this podcast, Emile Haddad, CEO of publicly traded land developer FivePoint Holdings, describes how these experiences as well as bankruptcies at two prior employers, helped him prepare for the next black swan event—and helps him guide his team through these difficult times. If you want perspective, this will be the best hour you spend this week. Emile reminds us that:


“…out of chaos comes opportunity.'”

-Emile Haddad, Chairman and CEO, FivePoint


When your master plan sells 25 homes one week and zero two weeks later, your business has changed abruptly. Emile believes that the economic turmoil post 9/11 is the best “comp” to what is currently occurring. Right after September 11, 2001, many parts of the US shut down or paused for a while, people reassessed what really mattered in their lives, and then everyone slowly came back to work. While this shut down and recovery will last longer, the similarities can guide business leaders.

Emile believes the housing market is going to experience a “detour” from the path it was already on but will resume that path eventually. He noted that most of his clients—home builders—were already carefully positioning their balance sheet for some sort of economic disruption, and this will help them survive. Here is a chart from our weekly webinars that proves Emile’s point:

The Recovery

As a land owner in truly some of the best locations in the United States, Emile knows there will be plenty of demand for his lots. Regarding the recovery, he reminds us that “housing follows jobs,” so it will be job growth that leads us out of this. Emile believes the jobs will return in urban areas, although we didn’t get into whether this would be urban downtowns or their lower-density neighborhoods.

Emile also believes that COVID-19 will accelerate the technological revolution that was already underway—by as much as a decade. Just step back and think for a moment how businesses have adopted technology in the last month in order to improve their operations. We will likely all be using technology much more efficiently than ever before—and much sooner than would have happened otherwise.

Finally, here’s a link to a poem Emile’s mother often read to him as a child, “If” by Rudyard Kipling.


For a full transcript of this episode, click here.



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John Burns If you have any questions, please contact John Burns, CEO at (949) 870-1210 or by email.
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