Being quarantined at home equals more time to accomplish long-delayed tasks. So, the pressure to plan the future is on. Here, one indie broker shares why she is refraining from doing that.

It has been more than a month of mostly staying home, and overall, it has been an experience. I took a little time off over the Easter holiday. I haven’t had as much work as I would normally have in April, but we have remained busy with closings, homebuyers and new listings.

I figured that, after a month of following the state stay-at-home order, I would have learned a foreign language, gotten caught up on my reading, cleaned up my database, learned new technology and launched a new marketing campaign. I thought I would have a new business plan for the rest of 2020 and 2021 by now. But I don’t — and that’s alright.

Instead of going back to the basics in my business, I have kept it moving forward and have remained in business. I have done little to gain new business other than daily blog posts. I’m still struggling to find my pandemic writing voice.

At home, we’ve gone back to the basics of cooking, and I’ve been sewing and baking. I plan on doing some painting as soon as I have a little extra time. I’ve repaired some windows, and for the first time in more than a decade, all of the windows in my house open and close.

In the evenings, I read, listen to podcasts and chat with family members via Facebook Messenger. We share pictures and a little of that dark humor we all love.

I’ve started a garden in the house, and it’s slowly taking over my kitchen. I’ve hung empty food cans to take advantage of the vertical space, now that the counters and windowsills are covered with seedlings and plants. Usually, I am too busy this time of year to work on a garden.

These days, there’s some pressure to plan for the future. I’m not ready to do that yet, and I don’t think I have to right now. I feel fortunate in that my business overhead is low and scalable — less business means lower business expenses. I don’t need to cut expenses, but I may delay making some purchases I budgeted for.

We’ve always worked in home offices. Day-to-day operations haven’t changed much under the state stay-at-home order. We can finish out 2020 without making major changes to how we work. In fact, I’m surprised to learn how many agents depend on going to into an office and how many brokers are working hard on communication and rolling out new technology.

As I talk to my peers around the country, as well as my friends, neighbors and clients, it becomes clear to me that we’re all experiencing a big change in our lives because of COVID-19. However, that experience isn’t the same for all of us.

Our age and vulnerability to the virus affects our attitudes and outlook. Where we are in our careers has an impact on how we feel about business and on what kind of plans we will need to make.

In many states, real estate services are considered essential, but that doesn’t mean all real estate agents are essential. There are nonessential agents out there making promises they can’t keep and continuing their tone-deaf marketing.

Essential agents are helping divorcing couples, families who recently inherited grandma’s house, people who have jobs and need more space, and others who need to buy or sell during a pandemic and would like the help of an experienced, knowledgeable professional.

Everyone is feeling some level of stress; some just refuse to acknowledge it. Unemployment is now at an all-time high, and we’re already seeing small businesses close. We need to be sensitive to that. There are people who will not be able to buy that new house this year. Some won’t live to see next year, and others will not be able to pay their rent or make mortgage payments.

Being forced to stay home isn’t a vacation, a retreat or a special time in our lives that we should be thankful for. What’s happening right now is huge and global, and it will have a lasting impact on the human race. It’s alright to have some concerns about the future and about the present, too, for that matter.

There are people who are excited about everything to get back to “normal,” while some believe we need to do better than normal. Others, however, think that the old normal will be gone forever. I want to be part of a better and more sustainable future. I want to know what I can do to make a difference.

The old normal isn’t good enough. If it were, we would have enough face masks and protective equipment. Healthcare workers and COVID-19 tests would be available. Food would not be left to rot in the fields while people go hungry because we don’t have a way to harvest and distribute it. People wouldn’t be living in tent camps near the freeway.

People should not have to choose between death and huge medical bills. They shouldn’t be dying in record numbers in understaffed nursing homes where underpaid staff don’t have proper protective equipment.

It’s possible that some of us will have to mostly stay at home until there is a vaccine, which may become available in 2021 or 2022. I haven’t seen any plans made by the state or federal government that includes letting people in high-risk groups leave their homes.

I’ll be ready to plan for the future when the time is right. Until then, the only thing I have planned is a garden, and I think it’s going to be a great year for gardening. Right now, I don’t see any reason why I won’t be in business a year from now.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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