Last week a nervous rental owner told me that he expected 75% of his tenants would not pay their April rent. Yesterday he told me that that all rent was paid.

Last week more than a dozen rental owners were terrified they would have to borrow money when the residents didn’t pay and the mortgages came due. Yesterday a seasoned banker told me he spent his last two weeks preparing loan modifications.

Loan modifications? Yes, most apartment lenders are accommodating responsible owners whose tenants have not paid in full. Many apartment lenders instituted policies allowing the investment property borrowers to make partial payments for two to six months. The difference may be rolled to the end of the loan or made up over a 6 to 12-month period after the virus subsides.

The news media and the worry warts are racing the virus to see who can cause the most anxiety and harm.  But not all the news is bad.

As of April 2, The Economist magazine’s experts had dropped their prediction by 90%. Since then other usually reliable sources are guessing deaths will be even lower, maybe below 100,000. All premature deaths are tragedies, but the most recent estimates seem dramatically below what expert health professionals expected three weeks ago.

So, World War III didn’t happen. Neither AIDS nor Ebola ended humanity. Global warming has not yet killed all life on earth. There absolutely are problems, but it looks like we’re going to make it another year, maybe even longer.

Last month I read The End Is Always Near, by Dan Carlin. It was a Christmas gift from somebody who loves me. The subtitle is Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse, to Nuclear Near Misses. His eight chapters describe different ways mankind didn’t go extinct.

Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler describes how humans have used technology to improve the quality and length of life.  The last 200 years have had improvements at an increasing rate.

This pandemic may turn out to be the worst health disaster in our lifetime. This last winter was among the two warmest in the last 100 years. Your life and mine are fragile. Yet, overall, life on earth is robust.

Last week instead of commuting, I read What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. The closing chapter is “The Value of Science,” his 1955 talk to the National Academy of Sciences. Here are some highlights.

Great scientists have a lot of experience with ignorance, doubt, and uncertainty. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. As he develops a hunch about the result, he’s uncertain. Sometimes he’s almost sure what the result will be, but still has some doubt. The scientist must recognize ignorance and leave room for doubt. Feynman described scientific knowledge as a body of statements and claims with varying degrees of certainty. Some are mostly unsure, some likely, but none absolutely certain.

Great scientists are comfortable with that lack of certainty. Most of us are not. Scientists struggle for knowledge but understand that perfect knowledge is beyond human capacity.

What Feynman praises in scientists can also be true about competent adults in any field, including income property. Investors make choices based on incomplete, confusing, and sometimes contradictory information. Sometimes we’re wrong; sometimes we’re right. People who insist on absolute certainty choose not to act.

Since you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you’re leading people, whether you recognize it or not. Many people may be influenced by your actions. For your sake and for the sake of those you affect, don’t let fear overwhelm you.

Find things which encourage, refresh, and renew you. Maybe you like TED talks or commencement speeches, or comedies or some other laughter or awe-inspiring pastimes. Perhaps your faith or meditation increases your calm, inspires compassion, or builds wisdom.

Millions are sucking up media’s discouragement, fear, and worry or focusing on blame. Reject that mental sewage. You’ll receive enough information, maybe more than you really need, from the people around you. You’re not in charge of global defense against the virus. Don’t obsess on what is beyond your control.

You influence the people that you encounter. If you’re person of faith, then tell others about the hope that is in you. Let’s live out our legacy, our calling to bless others. You were created for a purpose. Maybe you are in your position as a person of influence just for this time.  Your purpose is greater and bolder than to sit in the corner sucking your thumb. There are many ways to comfort, encourage or help others. Act or speak on those noble nudges.

If the world ends tomorrow, rest assured you’ll get the memo. Just in case it doesn’t end tomorrow, be blessed and be a blessing to others.

What’s your take on how we should respond to the virus and the uncertainty?

-o0o-

Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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