Compass CEO Robert Reffkin shares his thoughts on why the concept of “home” matters so much right now.

There has probably never been a time in human history when people around the world have depended on their homes more completely than they do right now. It’s never been more clear how much our homes matter and how much the work you do every day matters.

The work you’ve done

This experience is bringing new meaning to all the work you’ve ever done. Think about all the homes you’ve ever helped buy or sell in your career. Everyone who is living in the right place during this very-wrong time because of you. Every family that has the space they need to stay sane while being stuck inside, or the backyard they need to get fresh air, or the kitchen they need to be able to cook for their kids while helping them with their home-schooling. Everyone who feels like they’ve found their place in the world — no matter what happens to the world around us all.

The work you’re doing

During this crisis, I’ve seen you do critical work that will never be forgotten. I’ve seen you solve urgent real estate problems in totally new ways. I’ve seen you use virtual tours and showings to help clients who are immunocompromised and need to move quickly. You’ve found second homes for clients to feel safer outside of hard-hit cities. Helped medical professionals move to those same cities to save lives. Provided personal, logistical, and emotional support to your clients and your communities. Called them up, with no agenda whatsoever, just to see if they’re lonely or in need of someone to talk to. Driven your clients’ children to the doctor for cancer treatments that can’t be postponed. Volunteered your own time to help build field hospitals. Donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal protective equipment to front-line medical staff.

The work that will be needed

The weeks and months we’re spending inside are going to forever change our concept of home. We are living through the biggest shift in the relationship between people and their homes since the 1950s when the American Dream of homeownership swept the nation.

Home has never meant so much to us in so many different ways. Home is now where we live… and work… and eat… and sleep… and exercise… and relax… and stress out… and play. Living rooms have become classrooms and exercise studios and virtual meeting rooms. Kitchens have become restaurants serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day and way too many snacks in between. Some bedrooms have become hospital quarantine rooms where we care for the sick while trying not to get sick ourselves.

Home is now the place where we shelter in place. Home is where we stay to keep safe, and keep our families safe and keep our communities safe. Staying in our homes is literally saving people’s lives; our homes have become life-saving devices.

Our homes have become everything to us.

After this, the idea of home may never be the same again. It’s changing in ways that are clear to us now and in ways that won’t be clear for a long time. When this is over, what will your clients expect from their homes? What types of places will they want to live? What scenarios will they be preparing for? What will words like “comfort” and “safety” and “community” mean to them? What dreams will they be dreaming and what futures will they be planning for?

How will their idea of their place in the world — or of the world itself — be different?

The future is unknowable, especially right now, but what I do know is this: Your work is going to matter more than it ever has. You will be the ones responsible for helping people find the home that provides the sense of belonging, sense of security and sense of possibility that will be more important tomorrow than ever before. And I have complete faith you’ll rise to the challenge.

Stay strong.

Stay healthy.

Stay home.

Robert Reffkin is the founder and CEO of Compass. He was inspired to enter the world of real estate by his mother, Ruth, a longtime agent who now proudly works at Compass. Robert completed a B.A. and M.B.A. from Columbia University and worked at McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and as a White House Fellow.

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