The year is 2007, and the housing market is rocketing forward. There are zero-down loans, and everyone can buy a home. Everyone is happy — until they aren’t.
Through a series of events, the real estate markets crash in 2008. People’s lives are changed; we’re facing a new era. Some call it a correction, a credit crisis, while others call it a shift.
No matter what you want to call it, back then, real estate agents had to adapt to short sales and more bank-owned inventory. With these changes came new skills, new thoughts and new professionalism that was needed to succeed. During those changes, savvy agents adapted and gained market share.
In my case, my business doubled in the first year of the downturn. In three years, I went from 25 transactions, with only six listings sold, to more than 100 transactions and 30 active listings.
This time is like that time.
At this point, we don’t know if the coronavirus is going to change things for a month or for the rest of the foreseeable future. However, we do know that it’s changing how people think about interacting with one another.
However, there’s one thing that won’t change. People need real estate, and they will be buying and selling real estate as long as we have a democratic government and a planet to live on.
What possible silver lining is there?
A healthy real estate market
In contrast to 2008, where we had to endure several years of clients recovering from a credit crisis and had an overabundance of inventory, our market is extremely healthy.
Yes, as a profession, we still have to deal with investor buyers and tech companies. However, the rates are insanely low and so is inventory. If anything, the coronavirus will help people want new housing as they’re stuck in their current situation for two weeks. They’ll come out stir-crazy and ready to move.
The rise of professionals
Every time there’s a shift, the professionals rise and take more market share. Those who aren’t committed to the business typically take a break.
It’s not a negative thing. When the market is up, business is easier, and it invites more hobbyists into the community. When the market shifts, it requires professionals to learn new skills or relearn old ones. Take this opportunity to connect with those agents and see if you can secure their future referrals.
Increased productivity through virtual appointments
Dear agent, you’re about to enter the most productive time of your career! Clients will gladly accept your appointments to walk them through the process on the phone.
How do I know this? In 2008, when the market shifted, I went on a five-year stretch during which I never entered a home I didn’t list on the phone! That’s right, my listing appointments were on the phone. I emailed the paperwork to my clients, they signed it, and I either picked it up or they faxed (remember fax machines?) it to me.
In addition, if you do a great job of video-touring the home, you can do it once and send it to every would-be homebuyer.
Start thinking now about your redundant activities. The ones you have scripts for. What could be a video? What could be a Zoom presentation online versus in the office?
This isn’t a blog post about embracing new technology. Video tours and conferencing have been around for several years. What’s different is that consumers will now want and expect this type of interaction instead of face-to-face appointments.
The ability to be back in the driver’s seat
This one’s a bit of a stretch, especially this early on, but think about it. Buyers and sellers are concerned about exposure. Who knows the most about any given home? The tech company? The internet? No, you. The agent.
With most of the information coming from you, it’s your responsibility to know more about your community and available homes. This is not a new thing. The coronavirus didn’t change your responsibility to be excellent. The change is that now consumers will be coming to you with questions that will allow you to shine as the knowledgeable source that you are.
A knowledge of community
Community information that only agents know will be important. Should this crisis continue, agents will be poised as community informants. Consumers might still ask questions that we can’t answer, but new questions will arise that we can answer.
We might be asked: How did we handle the outbreak? Was there community involvement? In my neighborhood, many neighbors are coming out and telling us to let them know if we need toilet paper, sanitizer or even a meal. That’s the kind of community many families will want in the future.
In 2017, I wrote about three free online lead generation sources. One of those, Nextdoor, is a treasure trove of neighbor activity. Yes, the demographic tends to be older. You’ll be tempted to say, “OK, Boomer.”
However, Nextdoor and community Facebook groups are places for you to be the community mayor. Don’t sell yourself, ever. Instead, try to be a resource, and make people curious about you. If you must, you can always do a market update, but be humble about it. The point is that by helping people in these communities, you’ll be seen as the go-to person for all things community.
Creating a lasting impression
Whether it lasts two weeks or multiple years, this kind of outbreak leaves an impression in a similar (but also vastly different) way as the 9/11 attacks. Life will be slightly different. These differences create opportunities for you as the agent to continue to create value for your client.
Agents add so much value to a transaction, and unfortunately, it’s usually during a downturn that it gets appreciated. Take heart in knowing you’re needed to help navigate the choppy waters — now more than ever.