A panel of industry leaders said Thursday that real estate agents should be using the pandemic to increase the amount of contact they have with their current or future clients.

Tiffany Curry was at a store recently when she saw boxes and boxes of disposable gloves. Curry, a Houston-based broker and the first African American owner of a Berkshire Hathaway franchise, knew that during the pandemic gloves have been hard to come by. So she bought a pile of them and distributed them among her clients.

“I bought boxes of them and we just have been doing pop ins and dropping them off, saying ‘thanks, we’re thinking of you,'” she said Thursday, adding that her team would drop the boxes off without physically interacting with clients.

Curry recounted the story during Inman’s latest town hall, a digital event in which she and several other real estate leaders discussed ways to keep in touch with clients in an era of social distancing. Each of the panelists who spoke Thursday have pursued different strategies. However, the takeaway was that this particular moment is actually a decent one for consumers to get into real estate, but industry professionals need to make sure they’re doing intelligent outreach in order to stay top of mind for their clients.

Panelists during Inman’s town hall Thursday. Clockwise from top left: Jorge Guerra Jr., Tiffany Curry, Alyce Dailey, and Brian Copeland. Credit: Inman

In Curry’s case, the glove gambit appears to have done exactly that. She said that after her team dropped boxes of the gloves off, she received calls or text messages thanking her. The point was that she helped people, without explicitly asking for their business.

“That goes a long way,” she added.

Alyce Dailey, who leads an eponymous Keller Williams team in the Baltimore area, also spoke during Inman’s town hall Thursday and said that in the past she has had success connecting with people by hosting events.

“We built our business for 15 years on client parties,” she added.

Parties are effective, Dailey said, because they’re inexpensive and even if people don’t come the invite itself serves as a contact point between agents and clients. And they offer a chance to meet new people.

“If you want to pick low hanging fruit, go after your buyers because they know other buyers,” she added.

Obviously, the pandemic has changed the party strategy because in much of the U.S. people can’t physically gather together.

But events can still work in certain circumstances. Curry, for example, described holding an event during the pandemic in which people had to maintain social distance, but were still able to get drinks from a margarita truck.

“It’s so neat.” she recalled, “You have everybody that’s six feet apart.”

And Dailey described using the database and outreach skills that go into party planning simply to reach out to people remotely — an option that has the added benefit of being free.

Brian Copeland, the owner of Nashville-area Doorbell Real Estate, moderated the event and also urged agents “to make a list of everything you have done prior to 2020, everything you were doing to touch your clients.”

“And then make a digital parallel list,” he explained.

In his own case, he said that he has typically held in-person events in the past. Because the pandemic made those events impossible, he instead held a virtual easter egg hunt for kids. It was a roaring success.

“We had this amazing event,” he said. “I’m out $200 and we touched thousands of people.”

Panelists during Inman’s town hall Thursday. Clockwise from top left: Jorge Guerra Jr., Tiffany Curry, Alyce Dailey, and Brian Copeland. Credit: Inman

Not every strategy has to be event or gift-based. Jorge Guerra Jr., president and CEO of Real Estate Sales Force in Miami, also appeared at Thursday’s town hall and said that he likes to send out a market report to his clients so they understand the value of their homes.

“I don’t want my clients going to another website to get a valuation,” he explained. “I want them going to me.”

The comment also underscores a recurring theme that came up during the town hall: Inventory and interest rates are currently low, meaning both buyers and sellers currently have opportunities. And indeed all of the speakers said sales continue to move briskly in their markets at certain price points.

That means there are opportunities for agents to ease people into the market. It can be a tricky thing to pull off during the difficult times of a pandemic, but agents who manage to do it sensitively will leave a lasting impression on their clients.

“If you connect to people in their pain,” Dailey ultimately observed, “they remember it for their entire life.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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