We rounded up four of our best nuggets of information from the REAL Trending Special Edition Podcast.
Interviewing brokers, top agents, team leaders and industry executives gives me a bank of information to share with you! If you haven’t listened to our podcast, what are you waiting for? Go to tag/podcasts or subscribe to Podbean at https://realtrendsinc.podbean.com/.
Here are four takeaways from 2020’s podcasts.
- COVID-19 Budgeting. When the stay-at-home orders hit, brokers scrambled to review operating budgets and cut expenses. A big one was lease negotiations. According to Hoby Hanna, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services with offices in eight states, “We sent letters out to landlords—the ones that we have personal relationships with because we are a personal relationship business. In most cases, we asked for relief for the next three months, and then we’ll take those lease payments across the balance of the year or extended extend the lease terms by a few months on the back end.”
- Expanding a Footprint. Many brokers took advantage of the market lull to expand their market presence or start a brokerage company. Adam Elias, owner of RE/MAX Celebrations in East Windsor, did just that. He already had a law firm and a title insurance agency, and he said, “I was ready for another venture. I made the inquiry with RE/MAX, they got back to me within two days, and just when we were ready to put pen to paper, the state of New Jersey announced that they were going to shut down due to the rising COVID-19 pandemic.” Elias said they, “put things on hold for a couple of weeks, and we wondered whether this was the right time to enter into a market!” At the same time, he felt like there was a huge opportunity to forge ahead. “I’m a big history guy. You look back at the 2008 financial crisis or the Great Depression, these types of economic downturns usually produce opportunities in different ways. We figured this is now the opportunity to find agents who are not necessarily happy with their current situation, they may feel that they’re paying too much for brokerage, they’re not getting enough out of it. We saw that admission into real estate schools jumped during the pandemic, so it was a great opportunity to move forward.”
- Recruitment Boomed. As any broker knows, recruiting great agents never stops, even during a pandemic. Ben Hess, cofounder of Co-Recruit, offered some insight. “There is a huge influx of new, high-quality agents entering the business. Initially, COVID-19 caused a bunch of mass layoffs and furloughs, so many executives took the opportunity to start a real estate business,” he says. Digital tools such as Zoom can be just as effective as in-person meetings to suss out whether a candidate should move further into the interview process.
- Relationships Matter. When agents aren’t coming into an office, how do you maintain the relationship? Brokers had to get creative. For Jessica Averbuch, CEO of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty in Tennessee, that meant first making sure all of her employees and agents had the tools to work remotely. “We immediately went out and bought a dozen laptops and got people set up to work digitally. We also got our accounting department set up so they could deposit and cut checks from home with proper checks and balances,” she said. The next thing the leadership team did was schedule daily Zoom meetings with staff and biweekly company meetings. “Our participation in those calls has been somewhere between 85 to 100 people on every Zoom meeting,” she says.
Tracey Velt is managing editor of REAL Trends, now owned by HW Media and HousingWire.