Natasha Phipps was trying to secure a deal for her client at the height of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak. The Calgary-based real estate agent, specializing in investment properties, was working with a mortgage broker to move her deal forward as the pandemic kept on throwing up roadblocks. Appraisals were the major issue, she says, because in those early days appraisers couldn’t even go into a property. Without the necessary data to work from, Phipps’ broker “threw up their hands” and told the client there was no way to get the deal done.
Phipps was undeterred. She sent her client to another broker, one who had already stepped up for her during the pandemic. After pulling some strings and escalating the issue, the broker got the deal done. It was a challenge, Phipps said, but where one broker balked at the first sign of a challenge, another worked harder to serve the client better. Throughout the pandemic, Phipps says, brokers differentiated themselves in moments like these. Some stepped up to serve the client better, others walked away. Phipps says the brokers that came through in the most uncertain times have earned her trust and continued business.
“During the COVID-19 outbreak, brokers and realtors could take this time and use it in one of two ways,” she says. “One was to really spend the time to build relationships, focus on the relationships, and provide value to people. Those are the types of people I like to work with.”
Phipps explains that there were plenty of brokers scrambling for business at the height of the pandemic, but they weren’t leading with value.
“And that’s a turn off for me. I want them to look at how they can help our clients, because this is a very scary time for a lot of people. Many of my clients who own multiple rental properties were asking if they should take the deferrals or not. The best brokers were willing to engage, educate and help. That's really what I was looking for. But then I also saw a lot of people who just kind of took this as a bit of a holiday. They didn't want to get involved.”
Though competitive rates could prove a differentiator, Phipps says that the rate and incentive environment was changing so fast that offerings were being cut to the bone. In that environment, client service and sound advice set brokers apart from the competition.
The brokers who missed the mark for Phipps were those that failed to empathize with her clients. There’s still a lot of fear and uncertainty out on the market; if a broker laughed off a concern or failed to meaningfully address a client’s worries, Phipps says they failed her client and, more importantly, lost an opportunity to build trust.
“This was not a time necessarily where you saw your highest volume or your highest numbers,” Phipps says. “But our clients in this industry will remember how we responded in this time.
“I think that is the main indicator differentiator for how people perform during this pandemic: Were they supportive or were they being pushy salespeople? When you combine that with someone who is feeling fearful or concerned, they will remember their experience. This was a great opportunity for relationship-building and the building of trust. I think the people who did it right are now far ahead. And the people who took that wrong approach are going to feel the effects, because people remember that.”