Canceled transactions, shelter in place, and working virtually; real estate agents must adapt and seize new opportunities during the Coronavirus crisis.

One of my long-time coaching clients here at Icenhower Coaching and Consulting, Rick Fuller, has the number one producing team in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had a conversation with him about the shelter in place order from his local government officials, and wanted to hear about how his real estate agents have adapted their business during the Coronavirus crisis.

Real estate as a “non-essential” business.

At the time of my conversation with Rick, real estate had not been considered an essential business, and we had talked at length about the implications of that. Rick and his team have been adapting accordingly. I asked him about his current transactions and he told me that they have realized that their transactions have been divided into thirds when it comes to the Coronavirus crisis and shelter in place complications.

The client fallout: a rule of thirds.

“I’m out.”

Almost a third of Rick’s clients did cancel. The clients got cold feet and decided to hold off on transactions. One of their clients, for example, ended up losing her job when California rolled out their shelter in place order. That is what has happened to approximately one-third of the transactions.

“This too shall pass.”

Then, there is another third. This other third of Rick’s clients have their mindset looking to the long-term, and they aren’t as concerned with the fear of the present. These clients are saying, “Look, this too shall pass, and I need housing.” Maybe they are moving for a job relocation or maybe there was a divorce or death in the family. These things are still occurring today.

The Coronavirus hasn’t eliminated the need for some to move around the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento County, where Rick Fuller and his team have offices, people are always moving in and moving out.

“This is an opportunity.”

Finally, the last third of Rick’s clients. This is the interesting one. Rick told me about a member of his team that gave him a call. He said, “Rick, we just picked up another Coronavirus transaction!” What does that mean? The transaction doesn’t have the Coronavirus. It means that for whatever reason related to the Coronavirus, homeowners are deciding to sell their home. Some want liquidity. Maybe they run a small business and they need that cash to keep the business afloat. Some of these clients had a lot of money in the stock market, and now they want to buy property.

Rick also spoke with an investor. The investor told Rick that the market is producing some unique opportunities right now from an investment standpoint. She told Rick that she is seeing that the people who have their home for sale really want to sell their home today. There are fewer buyers looking to buy right now. So, that’s a really good market for an investor to find some great deals. That, coupled with the recent stock market losses, is making real estate a good long-term investment. This new third that is emerging is completely new.

Real estate agents should shift their focus.

We can give a lot of hope to people because many real estate agents are just looking at this “first third” of clients, the ones that are falling out. These cancelled transactions are typically the first wave of reactions to what the Coronavirus has done to the market, so it has scared a lot of agents. But then that “second third” emerges and is willing to follow through and aren’t caught up in the fear. And the final third is showing up and using this situation to their advantage.

The time has come to adapt and conduct your business virtually.

Rick Fuller and his team have been conducting all of their business virtually. After my call with Rick, he told me he had to jump on the phone with another team member who just secured a buyer representation agreement virtually. She never met the buyer in person.

Rick went on to tell me that it was the third interview he had done this week with his team who had successfully made a client out of somebody they had never met in person. They connected online and completed the buyer presentation or listing presentation and concluded with the agreement, making them a client. Every step of the process was done virtually, keeping all parties completely safely and in full compliance with all shelter in place regulations.

You must be willing to adapt your business. All business-related failure is a failure to adapt. How do you adapt in today’s changing markets? Those who don’t change will be changed out in this market. How do we get ahead of that and help people? Keep the conversation going and continue to educate your clients.

Remember that this Coronavirus crisis situation is actually opening up new opportunities. The Japanese word for crisis is split into like two different parts, and the second part of the word means “opportunity.” You can see now how as the market shifts through this crisis, we’re seeing a lot of people pulling out of the stock market and putting their money into real estate. Real estate is a safe bet compared to other options. You’re also seeing people need to sell to get some liquidity.

In real estate, look for new opportunities.

Rick made the point that as a real estate team, you can’t go back to look to where the old opportunities were, you must look for the new opportunities. There are opportunities to help people through this crisis. Nobody wants to work with an agent that is uncertain. We don’t know everything that’s going happen, but there are a few things that we do know. Real estate has been a solid investment for many people, and people will continue to need to transition from one home to the next.

A powerful quote that Rick reminded me of is, “It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup.” There’s a lot happening in the economy right now and our clients need us to be that steady hand. An unsteady hand spills the cup all over the place. We are going to be leading people through this crisis, so we must be steady. A shelter in place order does not mean to shelter your mind, and just go climb under a rock. It means that you double down.

Realtors: be leaders in your community.

Leaders today are working overtime. Leaders today are finding solutions and opportunities that were never presented before. That does not minimize this devastating pandemic and we certainly pray for those that are being affected by COVID-19, but we’re also responsible to lead our teams and to lead our clients, and they’re looking to us right now. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

An opportunity to expand your real estate team.

Another unexpected opportunity to come from the Coronavirus chaos is that it is an ideal time for teams to be hiring. If you’re running a team, you need two things. You need customers, but you also need team members. If you have been recruiting and looking for talent in the market prior to the Coronavirus, you probably noticed that due to the low unemployment rate, the pickings have been slim.

Millions of people filed for unemployment this week. There’s an opportunity to hire right now. Help them get their real estate license and get them on your team. That was not available when the unemployment rate was under four percent. As we are seeing the unemployment rise, as a team leader, you have the opportunity to help someone transition from one career to the next. That’s phenomenal, and life-changing.

It’s time to step up.

Help your clients. Help your community. Stay visible and be sure to stay in full compliance with your local and state regulations to shelter in place. Adapt to our changing industry and help other agents do the same. Join our Facebook group, Real Estate Agent Round Table, for daily updates and helpful content that you can use to help build up your business during this time. We’re in this together!

Stay up to date on what's happening in our industry and join our Facebook group, the Real Estate Agent Round Table for free, relevant content daily, including breaking news on the real estate market and the coronavirus crisis.
Stay up to date on what’s happening in our industry and join our Facebook group, the Real Estate Agent Round Table for free, relevant content daily, including breaking news on the real estate market and the coronavirus crisis.

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