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Matt Dolan, broker with Team Harborside, Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, Mass., leads a team of six individuals. After a career as an airline pilot, Dolan decided to dive into real estate, forming a team that could work together to accomplish goals and commit to helping buyers and sellers achieve their homeownership dreams.

In this interview, Dolan discusses what it takes to lead a team through a crisis and how to navigate a challenged market.

Why is strong leadership so important in a team?
Matt Dolan:
Strong leadership is always important, but especially right now. With all the uncertainty and changes going on, I am focused on keeping our team motivated, positive and committed to our mission —which is safely and effectively assisting our buyers and sellers.

How has your team had to adapt due to COVID-19?
MD:
I certainly miss our weekly team meetings at the office, but we’ve adapted well. We are checking in through Zoom and have a constant text thread going filled with Bitmojis and GIFs. We’re keeping it light and upbeat! The work is still getting done between home schooling and crazy schedules.

What is the current state of your market and how is buyer/seller confidence?
MD:
Our market remains active and both buyer/seller confidence is still strong overall. We have been able to safely and efficiently assist both buyers and sellers in the midst of this pandemic with some modifications to the transaction process. Many of our listings are receiving multiple offers within the first week of coming online.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your market right now?
MD:
Low inventory levels continues to be the major challenge for buyers. While interest rates remain favorable, lending standards have tightened so it’s imperative that buyers remain in communication with their lending institution during the home search. There are certainly opportunities for some buyers, especially in the luxury markets where supply is plentiful. We are seeing an influx of buyers leaving the city in search of more space and a lifestyle by the ocean. Another trend is that many of our past clients who purchased starter homes are “trading up.” In this low-inventory environment, our sellers are getting significant interest on their listings. By leveraging funds from the sale of their starter homes they can position themselves to purchase a forever home.

Have you implemented any changes during this time that you’ll continue to adopt in the long-term?
MD:
For us, the major changes centralize around how we interact with clients and show properties. We will continue to adhere to all health guidelines for as long as necessary but hope to return to normal showing procedures when it’s safe to do so. Much of our business is relationship-based and the in-person interactions are sorely missed.

We are constantly hearing a narrative that property tours are only happening virtually, and this simply is not the case in our market. We are still conducting in-person showings to qualified buyers and have implemented a variety of safety protocols that follow social distancing and new safety guidelines. These include opening doors and cabinets to minimize anything being touched, cleaning and sanitizing doorknobs and high-traffic areas, etc. Showing properties is not as care-free as it used to be and is limited to just the people essential to the transaction.

What technology does your team lean on to stay competitive, especially in a time of social distancing?
MD:
We are a tech-forward team and also fortunate to be backed by a global luxury brand. All of the necessary tools for providing virtual tours, conducting virtual meetings and signing documents electronically have been part of our arsenal for years. This has turned out to be a major advantage for us as some of our competitors have been scrambling to catch up. As the pandemic unfolded, we leaned into all of these tools to continue showcasing homes at the highest caliber while delivering an exceptional client experience without skipping a beat.

What about culture? How does it play a role in your team’s day-to-day?
MD:
We are building something exciting and each team member is proud to be a part of it. When creating our team, we identified our gaps and hired specialists who are experts in those areas to fill the gaps. This allows each team member to “own” a function and focus on the area they feel most passionate about. We don’t micro-manage, we allow each individual to drive their own agenda. I think giving people control and autonomy is key.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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