This July, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — what it takes to build and join one, how to optimize your team for summer 2020, and even when to consider leaving one. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.
The past few months have been a challenge even for the strongest teams and agents. However, as Inman’s recent conversations with different teams have shown, many have taken this strange time as an opportunity to grow.
When Inman caught up with Joyce Rey and Stephen Apelian of the Joyce Rey Team recently, Rey said they were “very optimistic about the summer demand.” Rey’s team has pivoted to conducting meetings remotely, improving on their 3D tour and other video tour offerings, and generally trying to find ways to appreciate their increased time at home.
The Joyce Rey Team services luxury markets in and around Los Angeles with a focus on the Beverly Hills area, and has existed in its current form for about 10 years. Rey has spent more than four decades in the industry and acquired over $4.5 billion in career sales. The team earned the No. 3 ranking in medium teams sales volume for this year’s Real Trends + Tom Ferry The Thousand rankings.
“We think the luxury market is benefiting from this increased focus on the residential environment,” Rey told Inman.
Inman interviewed Rey and Apelian about how their team has fared during the pandemic and how they anticipate moving forward in the months to come.
Inman News: What’s the biggest challenge your team has faced during the pandemic?
Stephen Apelian: I think it’s really, for me anyways, difficult, because we’re a little disconnected as a team. We used to meet regularly, see each other in the office. So it’s been a little difficult staying connected … and then also adhering to the guidelines has been the biggest challenge, I’d say.
Joyce Rey: There’s an added layer of responsibility that goes with our situation and it not only impacts our team operation, but it also impacts our connection to our clients. When we see them, we have masks on, which isn’t quite the same, and when we meet new clients, we can’t really see their facial expressions. Our business is really based on relationships and connections. We all tried to focus on those as best we could, basically through the telephone — that’s what we’ve been relegated to, to stay in touch with people.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your market as a whole, or just among individual clients over the past few months?
Apelian: There was initially some uncertainty as to the market and what was going to happen, and people were just afraid because of that. And now, I’m not sensing that at all. Now things really feel more back to normal.
How do you think having to operate your business during this time will change how you do business in the future?
Rey: I think we’re going to rely more on video and 3D tours. I didn’t use 3D — I had favored video over the 3D tours, and now, I feel we need to have both on all our listings. So that element of our marketing has become much more important.
Joyce, you mentioned in another conversation with me that you’ve been holding meetings online instead of in your living room, as you used to before the pandemic. At this point, do you have any estimate of when you’ll all be able to meet together again?
Rey: That depends on what happens in the next month or so. We’re all concerned with the [Fourth of July] coming up, and of course our governor has mandated a bunch of closures because of spikes in cases.
Apelian: I honestly don’t think we’ll get back to a more normal course of business until there’s a vaccine.
Rey: Ten people is like the magic number, and I’ve tried to keep my social connections way below that. When I go to dinner, I prefer to have dinner with one to two people maximum. We’re being very careful here.
What advice would you give to new teams that have just started working together this year?
Rey: I have maybe had a team for, I’d say 14 years. And throughout my whole career, I’ve enjoyed partnering with people and though I didn’t have a team per se, I worked in concert with other people on my firm … So the team concept, on a different scale, I’ve really employed throughout my career.
Apelian: I think a lot of what we’re doing works. Trying to bring in people from all different walks of life that can add something different that relates to the real estate business. And adding agents who are experts in different areas. The best thing you can do is have one person that helps to do a little management [a role Apelian takes on]. You kind of have to have someone who helps corral everybody and be the guiding force.
Rey: And the team leader really needs to be responsible for helping everybody out. If you’re starting a team, you need somebody to be in a position to bring in business.