It’s A New Day In Real Estate: Realtors Find Increased Relevance In COVID-19 World

Written by Posted On Friday, 12 June 2020 05:00

After a dismal April and a slight uptick in May, the real estate market in most parts of the country is experiencing a remarkable rebound - a June surge fed by easing restrictions, historically low interest rates, and pent-up demand by consumers weary of quarantine. 

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Cheryl Tynes McAdam, associate broker and general sales manager, Latter & Blum Real Estate, New Orleans, La. “There is still some concern on the part of both buyers and sellers. But by and large, people are regaining confidence. Our open houses are drawing record numbers of buyers and we have multiple offers coming in.”

It appears to be a new day in real estate. 

Consumers working from home want more space. Grandparents want to be closer to the kids. Families are leaving the city for the suburbs, and millennials living in rented space are contemplating the value of ownership. Whatever else this pandemic has done, it has forced Americans to reconsider priorities, take a hard look at finances and, in many cases, invest in real estate.  

That is not surprising, noted Jason Waugh, president and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate in Portland, Ore. “Consumers realize, as we enter this new normal economy, that real estate is a wise investment. In three of the last five recessions, the average sales price of American homes increased in value. The data dictates the story.”

Whatever the impetus, consumer demand offers new energy and new opportunity for Realtors.

“Buyers and sellers searching online find tons of information,” said Waugh. “But the reality is, so much of that content is bad, or misleading, or outdated. There has never been a better time for Realtors to demonstrate their value - to be a calming influence, a source of knowledge, an expert and trusted advisor.”

It is a time for deepening connections.

“Our agents have spent much of the past few months reaching out to past and potential clients,” said Lori Arnold, broker/owner, Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors, whose 625 agents serve the greater Dallas, Texas market. “They started out just checking on health and well-being, offering to help where they could, and as questions arose about home values and market conditions, they were able to engage with confidence.”

Knowing local market conditions is crucial, Arnold said, in a market as large and diverse as Dallas, and agents who demonstrate specialized knowledge are more than ever appreciated. The lesson learned is that staying in touch does, in fact, yield benefits.

Current conditions level the playing field.

“The internet is a great equalizer,” said Broadpoint Properties broker Melissa Zavala, whose small, independent company serves Northern San Diego, Calif. “We are taking this time to engage with our customers, to provide information on a variety of topics - whatever they need, from relocating to downsizing to special needs or refinancing. We offer a truly personalized approach, and our connections with brokers nationwide add depth and breadth to our service.”

What customers want in this time of uncertainty, Zavala said, is equal parts knowledge, safety, and hand-holding, and that is a condition likely to last for a while. Agents who are able to provide all three are well-equipped for the new normal.

COVID-19 has forced us all out of our comfort zones, noted lifelong real estate professional Linnette Edwards, founder of Abio Properties in Northern California.

“These past months have given us unprecedented opportunity to nurture and engage with our SOI,” Edwards said, “to stay positive, to stay real, to provide an anchor - and most of all to come to grips with what the industry will look like going forward.”

Savvy Realtors in the new normal, she said, will need to inspire confidence.

“We send out invitations to Zoom coffee chats,” she said, “that are not about buying or selling, but about empowerment - tips on home schooling, on taking control of finances, all the things consumers are dealing with in these uncertain times.”

Abio agents blog about local people who are helping to better the community. They offer tips on quarantine cooking, or recipes for comfort food and cocktails, and they use social media to promote small business and to fund-raise for local needs - such as providing cell phone chargers for isolated hospital patients who need them.

Inevitably, she said, much of the company’s untraditional communication circles back to real estate, and it is then that the agent’s market knowledge and expertise come into play. 

“We are providing a bridge between the needs of today and the needs of tomorrow,” Edwards said. “The idea is, we’re in this together, so why not help each other out?”

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Barbara Pronin

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade. She is also the author of three mystery novels and two non-fiction books.

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