What lessons do we as an industry take away from the events of 2020 — lessons that can help us make our businesses more resilient in the future?

When the world seemed to come to a standstill in March of this year, many real estate professionals were left flatfooted, unsure of the future, and more importantly, unsure about how to address client questions and concerns.

In the months since, the industry as a whole has adjusted and flourished, with many markets seeing more activity than usual, even in the early days of the pandemic.

What lessons do we as an industry take away from the events of 2020 — lessons that can help us make our businesses more resilient in the future? After all, the unknown will always find a way to occur. It’s our job to meet it head-on.

1. Expect the unexpected

Business as usual is the enemy of innovation and of effectively responding to changes in the market or the industry. Many agents learned to expect the unexpected this year, finding new ways to put technology to work and rejecting the tendency to cling to the “normal” ways of doing things.

Agents and brokers developed new platforms and processes within days, reassuring buyers and sellers by moving transactions forward.

2. Always be ready to pivot

It’s not enough to be mentally ready to change directions. You have to develop practical alternatives to the way that you currently do business.

Creating a business continuity plan should become a priority for many businesses, giving owners and agents additional peace of mind by putting well-defined backup plans in place for a variety of scenarios.

3. Be sensitive to client needs

Even the most experienced real estate clients were white-knuckling their way through decision-making in 2020, unsure whether to stay put or continue to explore buying and selling options under suddenly disrupted market conditions.

Many real estate agents and brokers had to become more communicative and sensitive to the emotional weight of client needs and fears to keep deals together and keep clients moving forward.

4. Cultivate a top-notch professional network

No matter how prepared you are, an ill-prepared professional partner — whether it’s a mortgage lender, home inspector or closing attorney — can bring your transactions to a halt.

Although it’s always easy and even fun to work with a friendly and familiar business colleague, make sure that they are up to the challenges presented by market disruptions and shifting conditions.

5. Implement virtual processes from end to end

There is no longer any reason to doubt that end-to-end virtual processes are possible because they were responsible for keeping the market moving during a time of unprecedented activity and uncertainty.

Agents and brokers should be familiar with ways to facilitate virtual transactions throughout the sale and purchase process to provide superior service regardless of any eventuality.

6. Develop a robust online presence

Content marketing, social media and email marketing have been the cornerstones of effective marketing during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, too many agents and brokers found themselves trying to play catch-up with slow, poorly optimized websites and incomplete CRMs.

A meaningful online presence, regularly updated and properly maintained, is no longer an option. It’s essential for ensuring that you can reach out to potential clients and your sphere of influence.

7. Find alternatives to in-person marketing

Many real estate professionals have built their reputation through personal service, event marketing and in-person networking.

Although you might be eager to return to this style of connecting once the pandemic is over, it’s essential that you continue to implement online and virtual alternatives like video messaging and social media engagement.

There is no doubt that change has been the constant in 2020. The good news is that we all have the ability to manufacture and manifest our own opportunities despite market instability.

Ryan Serhant is a prime example of this. When we interviewed him pre-pandemic, he spoke about the importance of branding and marketing for Realtors.

While New York City’s real estate market has been upended by the pandemic, Serhant’s new firm Serhant is entering the real estate world at an uncharted moment. In our next piece, we’ll talk with Serhant.

As we close out this year, get ready to “own it” in 2021.

Stacey Ross Cohen is a branding expert based in New York City.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on  FacebookTwitterInstagram  and YouTube.

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