Realtors and mortgage brokers are used to playing on the same team, but never to the extent seen today. The battle against COVID-19 (and isolation, and boredom, and stir-craziness) has bonded agents and brokers in an “Oh, we are all in this together” kind of way that goes beyond professional courtesy. The circumstances are regrettable, but the real estate industry’s intensely cooperative reaction surely isn’t.
MBN spoke to real estate agents from across the country to find out how they’re driving business and, even more importantly, how they’re staying sane as the country comes to realize that the COVID-19 crisis is still in its early stages.
How are you evolving your business during COVID-19?
Sahil Jaggi, RE/MAX Realtron Realty (Mississauga, ON): There is some insecurity in our jobs as we are 100% commission, so without showings or meetings it’s hard for agents to be as productive. I’ve been focusing a lot on organizing my CRM systems and accounting. It’s also a good time to educate yourself with bebinars, podcasts, books etc.
Anthony Brown, Royal LePage Atlantic (Halifax, NS): I love learning, so I've been reading a ton and taking doing one webinar or online training activity every day. I've also been doing some business mapping exercises.
Patty Mack, RE/MAX Camosun (Victoria, BC): I have been self-isolating, but I stay in touch with clients by email, text and calling, just to touch base and say hi. Providing virtual tours, Docusign and electronic file exchanging is critical until health experts tell us we can return to normal. We are an essential service and must show leadership in this crisis. We all have to do our part to get over this curve.
David Fleming, Bosley Real Estate (Toronto, ON): I’ve been writing three blogs per week since 2007, and I’m not going to change that now. I’m continuing to produce new content, and even doing my “Pick5” video every Thursday, even though there aren’t many new listings, since I know people are starved for content and might be tired of Netlfix.
Paul Roussel, RE/MAX Escarpment Woolcott Realty (Burlington, ON): We’re maintaining communication with our current and past clients as well as keeping up with our “warm calls” to leads in our database. Our message has less to do with real estate and more to do with supporting our community and offering help in any way we can. We are still listing homes and, amazingly, they are getting some showings and even selling. We haven’t seen a big price dip but it’s certainly taking a little longer to sell than our crazy hot sellers’ market in the first 2 months of the year.
Tarek El Attar, RE/MAX Affiliates Realty (Ottawa, ON): We have our entire administrative and ISA team working from home, so we have taken a community-centered approach to our marketing, integrating things like 3D showings.
AJ Hazzi, Vantage West Real Estate (Kelowna, BC): We have been moving our meetings into the virtual realm via Zoom, have been masterminding the latest video techniques and are now incorporating some interactive video. COVID-19 has also forced us to take a good hard look at the fixed expenses of our business.
How are you staying sane during COVID-19?
Patty Mack: Like most people, we have simplified our life and are staying home. We self-isolated after being out of the country and all of our children are staying home as well. We’ve been in closer touch than usual, with lots of video chats and family Zoom meetings. It is so important to take the guidelines and restrictions seriously. It is mandatory that we self-isolate and maintain social distancing.
Tarek El Attar: Every day gets treated as a workday. It is essential that industry professionals have a nice home office – a space they can enter and truly get into their work zone in a time like this. I have books on the go and I’m also taking three different university programs in negotiation, leadership and commercial real estate development. This is an opportunity to grow and evolve, as Winston Churchill said, never let a good crisis go to waste.
Sahil Jaggi: Exercise has been really helpful. I’m going home workouts and I go for a bike ride every day. Podcasts and Audible have been great. I have also taken this time to reconnect with some old clients.
David Fleming: Maintaining a routine is key. As Realtors, we are accustomed to our daily schedule, which is often regimented, and involves time-blocking. To stay at home with the family and just take the day as it comes to you is a recipe for boredom, frustration, and a feeling of displacement. I try to work in my office from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then spend some time with the kids, then head back to work a bit more in the afternoon and again late at night, which is typically when I would be doing offers, listing presentations, or showings.
Anthony Brown: Going back to the basics has helped. Things like good sleep, daily exercise, good nutrition, drinking lots of water and meditating really make a difference.
AJ Hazzi: I’ve been using this time to produce content for both realtors and the public. It’s also been nice to be home spending time with our six-month old daughter (although my wife would say I’ve been on the phone or in Zoom chats around the clock). I can tell you this much, I’ve not been bored.
Paul Roussel: I’ve got three kids (8, 6, 2) so my house can be like a zoo at times but my wife and I are trying to maintain structure in their days. We go outside just in front of our home or walk around the block just to get some fresh air. We’re very careful with keeping our distance from everyone. In fact we are not allowing any visitors during this time, even the grandparents. It’s difficult for everyone. On the flip side of that, it’s been nice to spend lots of time with my wife and kids. We just have to avoid falling into the iPhone/ipad abyss.