In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
There’s just nothing like a global pandemic to drive us all to peak judgy-ness. That doesn’t make our judgments wrong, though! So, if you’re doing this stuff, could you please cut it out?
1. Wasting time while over-indulging
Watching too much TV, eating too much, drinking too much (who would do that, right??) — all this stuff used to be widely known as one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth in all its forms is not merely wrong. It’s deadly for those engaging in sloth-like behaviors.
So, pull up those sweat pants, and stop:
- Neglecting your hygiene
- Ignoring clients, your peers or team
- Over-consuming those webinars we’re all inundated with
Get your head back in the game.
2. Holding ‘normal’ open houses and otherwise enabling lookie-loos
Seriously, folks, there’s a global pandemic going on, and not everyone who has this virus has symptoms. One county we work in requires on-site visitors to wear masks, gloves and shoe covers. And “hot spots” throughout the property have to be cleaned after every showing.
Why would you let lookie-loos in? You’re eventually going to have to accept that we’re not returning to “normal open houses” for months (and, maybe not ever). So, why not make changes now?
3. Failing to loop in everyone involved in the selling process on current showing guidelines
We’re all trying to figure out how to conduct our real estate business in a world fighting COVID-19. We immediately think about how this will affect us and our clients.
In fact, it will impact everyone from repair people, inspectors, appraisers, and title company officials to stagers, housekeepers, and photographers. Maybe you need to have a Zoom meeting with them all — soon.
4. Not reading the confidential remarks
Practicing real estate in the time of coronavirus requires over-preparation. If you’re showing property, smart agents will be putting everything you need to know about showing requirements in their listings’ confidential remarks. There is no excuse for not reading them now. Just none.
5. Arguing with other agents’ showing restrictions
Your interpretation of county public health protocols and your local association’s showing guidance may differ from the listing agent’s. Your opinion doesn’t matter right now.
If that listing agent or seller wants you to turn in three circles and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before you enter, just do it. Every agent who has a listing now is already stressed to the max. They don’t need more.
6. Not thinking through your own showing instructions
When you are crafting your confidential remarks, make clear what your showing “rules” are, and then stick to your guns. Do not rely on other agents reading — much less complying with — public health protocols.
If you want buyer’s agents to equip themselves and their clients with specific personal protective equipment (PPE), say so, and be specific. You might want to back that up with a reminder sign at the property, as well.
Given the propensity of folks to turn uncharacteristically light-fingered when faced with ample supplies of PPE, we can’t advise stockpiling that stuff at your listings. But, it wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of items discreetly tucked away so you can help out any agents who have simply forgotten to replenish their trunk loads of PPE and are calling you in a panic.
7. Letting sellers and buyers make uninformed decisions
Maybe the stress of the pandemic is making everyone more scatterbrained. But, honestly, this is no time to leave your clients in the dark about the ramifications of any step they are thinking about taking (or not taking) in regard to real estate transactions. That’s not to suggest you tell them what to do, but, Lordy, explain stuff so your clients aren’t doing anything in a blind panic.
8. Leaving home without a mask, gloves and cleaning products
Good agents typically have a trunk full of stuff — including cleaning products — all the time. You’re probably just going to have to add a few things to your standard supplies to comply with local regulations.
While you’re at it, equip yourself to comply with the requirements of the most restrictive regulations anywhere near you. If you don’t, you know the first call you get will be from a bazillion-dollar buyer who wants to see a property in an hour in the restrictive area you’re not prepared for.
9. Spreading fake news
With so many more people (and bots) online now, the odds of some particularly juicy tale being true are pretty low. Save time, and quit sharing stuff. If you must share, at least do a search on the topic or wild tale. Trust me. You can find anything online. So, for the sake of your professional reputation, verify that anything you post or share is true!
10. Giving health advice to strangers online
Apparently, every elementary school parent, vet tech, health food enthusiast, conspiracy theorist, exercise junky, and their CPA feels qualified to give medical advice unasked the second a stranger makes the grave error of passing along actual information from actual medical experts.
Along with not arguing with showing instructions, please don’t argue questions of medicine (unless you’re a doctor whose specialty is the field under discussion) or legal issues (unless you’re an attorney practicing in the state and specified area of law under discussion) on social media.
And just for good measures, don’t argue about real estate either. It’s really not a good look.
11. Not mastering online meeting technology
Face it: The pre-Zoom world isn’t reappearing. So, best to embrace the moment and learn how to use the technology. The technology doesn’t have to be Zoom; there are multiple options. Whichever app you choose, you need to practice with it in low-impact settings if only to figure out where the audio button is in advance.
Pay attention to the camera angle, too. It’s usually more flattering if the camera is just above eye level. Comb your hair and dress up a little, even if only on your top half. And take note of what’s behind you. Ditch anything that looks like it’s growing out of your head.
12. Expecting things to go back to ‘normal’
We all want this to be a sprint. It’s not. It’s a marathon. And the sooner we adjust our expectations, the sooner we can adapt to the new reality. Although we don’t know exactly what the future will look like (do we ever?), we do know we are likely to make fewer unmasked appearances in public for the foreseeable future.
We realize we’re apt to have less face time with clients (and others) and more virtual time with them. We are already devising new ways of handling “open houses” from afar. The not-too-distant future might find us creating virtual Q&A sessions related to real estate in general as well as our specific listings.
Buyer’s agents are already seeing an increased demand for home offices, workout spaces, high-speed internet, and kids’ study rooms and nooks.
Will tomorrow’s work-from-home buyers want fewer garages and more flexible spaces? Fewer mudrooms and more Zoom studios? It’s hard to know exactly how our business will change, but it can be enormously energizing to think about.
We have to stop looking back, and start creating the future. Today. We really don’t have any other choice.
Nicole Solari is owner and managing broker of The Solari Group in Solano and Napa Counties in Northern California. Nicole runs one of the highest producing brokerages in all of Northern California.
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