This month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable discusses how brokerages are trying to forge a roadmap back after the coronavirus crisis subsides.
John P. Horning, Executive Vice President, Shorewest REALTORS®, Milwaukee, Wis.; Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)
John Horning: Few could have predicted, as 2020 began with a strong job sector, a robust stock market, and most Americans bullish about growth, that a worldwide pandemic would sweep through the nation and upend life as we knew it. Yet here we are, confronting a grievous health crisis, still assessing the impact on our lives and businesses, and trying to forge a roadmap back. Mark, what’s happening in Las Vegas?
Mark Stark: Quite honestly, John, March was off the charts for us, and while April was substantially impacted during the worst of the crisis, we expect May figures to be up (at press time) and we’re looking forward to a stellar June, July and August. The fact is, we’ve been through many downturns, and we can’t think short-term. What we’re going to do is come out stronger, better and more competitive in the long-term, and that’s the message I’m sending our agents.
Steve Brown: With respect for all who suffered, the Southeastern states we serve have not been among the hardest hit. April closings were down about 7.5 percent, however, May pendings show a steeper drop. We chose to have our agents work remotely even though our offices were officially open with a skeletal crew, but, like Mark, we expect to be very busy this summer dealing with pent-up demand. We’ve been focused all along with Zoom sales meetings, virtual home tours, digital contract negotiation, curbside closings—all strategies customers love, and that we absolutely plan to continue.
Sheryl Chinowth: You’re right about that. Buyers and sellers have totally been into digital transactions, and we have sold homes totally virtually. Our listings are down, and we still have limited inventory, but our agents will be taking their digital skills into the new normal—though they’ve been very eager to get back into the brick and mortar. That social aspect of buying and selling real estate is a big part of our company culture.
Chris Raveis: As our service area is closer to some of the coronavirus hotspots, we anticipated a protracted slowdown—and certainly video conferencing and virtual sales strategies will be part of our business going forward. At the same time, maybe not surprisingly, while sales were down throughout the early spring, we saw a spike in the rental market as people were getting out of New York City, and that’s a trend we think may continue.
SC: We’ve noticed much of the same trend—customers leaving Dallas and Houston to settle down in wide-open spaces.
JH: I think this pandemic has changed people’s thinking in lots of subtle ways. Enrollments in our real estate school, for example, were up 260 percent in April compared to 2019. We attribute that to people taking advantage of the downtime to earn a real estate license and embark on a new career.
SB: I think a lot of people stuck at home were looking at homes online, too. It’s another reason to expect a strong market ahead.
JH: Given those expectations, what are your strategies going forward?
CR: Empowering our agents with the best tools, digital and otherwise, to keep them at the top of their game. But also, taking a hard look at the efficiencies coming out of this crisis—not just digitally, but expense management.
SC: We want our agents to continue putting safety first, but also to do some visionary thinking. Ramp up your marketing, extend your social media reach, take what you’ve learned and make it work for you.
MS: Get clarity on your goals. You had a phenomenal Q1 and a bad Q2? Be ready to rock n’ roll in the third and fourth quarter, and do whatever it is you need most to make that happen.
SB: If agents aren’t prospecting now, they’ll be out of business later this year when we expect things to come back. Stay closer than ever to your sphere of influence. Provide value and be kind. Don’t do random acts of kindness, do regular acts of kindness—and hang in there.
For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.