Everyone in the real estate world is wondering how to keep their business moving forward through the coronavirus pandemic. While no one has all the answers, we decided to ask a few industry leaders for their quick, off-the-cuff take on how teams and agents should respond. Here's what they said.
Provide Information and Direction
"The name of the game is consistent follow up...You are gonna see this rebound as quickly as it fell off a cliff, so whenever this rebounds we'll be in front of everybody and ready to take advantage of it."
Eric Bramlett, Owner & CEO, Bramlett Residential Real Estate
Location: Austin, Texas
Team Structure: 13 agents, 5 support staff
Eric Bramlett runs a high-end boutique brokerage out of Austin, Texas. Last year, they did 302 transactions accounting for $131 million.
A month ago, they were on track to hit $180 million for 2020.
Now, no one knows for sure. “It upended everything,” says Eric. But he’s not adjusting his goals just yet. “As long as nothing else crazy happens, we’re looking at an incredibly short, incredibly deep recession that we’re going to rebound from incredibly quickly and incredibly strongly.”
For now, Eric and his team are advising sellers to temporarily withdraw their listings. "The name of the game is consistent follow up… You are gonna see this rebound as quickly as it fell off a cliff, so whenever this rebounds we'll be in front of everybody and ready to take advantage of it."
Eric’s sit-and-wait approach is based on his predictions about how his market will react to the crisis. “It’s short-term pain for long-term gain versus desperation, in my opinion.”
- A small percentage of buyers will use this as an opportunity to seek discounts
- 80% of buyers will sit out of the market due to travel, safety, or low inventory
- Demand will return after the lockdown ends
- This will most likely be a 4-month recession (based on current expert analysis)
Sales continuity plan
Goal: Provide direction to reduce anxiety for clients.
- Reach out to all leads once per week
- Actively listen to their concerns
- Offer a well-informed opinion
Team continuity plan
Goal: Provide direction to reduce anxiety for agents.
- Virtual meetings every Monday at 10:00 am
- 1:1 communication via daily or weekly check-ins by email and phone (as needed)
- Daily email updates to provide information and direction
“Deal with the reality of the situation and face it head-on... Work what’s in front of you. Put together your task list, follow your task list. Create as much normalcy as you can because it will make you feel better and help position you better when things go back to normal.”
Ask Questions, Then Show Up
"I think this will be a catalyst and accelerator of a lot of things that, sort of, take us out of the old traditional way of doing business."
Wyatt Graves, Team Owner, Kaizen Home Sales & Services
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Team Structure: Mega team including administrators, agents and a new construction department
Wyatt is the team leader of a Keller Williams brokerage and a mega team within that brokerage called Kaizen. His team covers a five parish region working everything from new construction deals and first-time homebuyers to luxury listings.
For now, he’s taking it day-by-day to “get the pulse of the agents”. He’s focused on securing the deals already in play and ensuring that the two major teams he’s onboarding have everything they need for a smooth transition into the team.
"It's kind of business as usual in terms of numbers. We still have listings being taken, we're still writing contracts, we're still going to closings. Showings are down, we're pivoting toward offering virtual showings."
Wyatt leads daily huddles with the team and is constantly asking agents: "What do you need?"
The way he sees it, this is a time when agents will look at their broker and ask whether they're getting what they need out of that relationship. To keep his own team engaged, Wyatt is updating training content to give agents the help they need right now, including open discussions about work/life balance and a talk from an expert marriage counselor. The goal is to make sure his team has the extra resources they need to weather the storm.
- The demand for virtual showings will continue to grow
- There will be a major shift in wealth for real estate teams based on rapid shift to online tech
- Some teams will experience an increase in agent turnover as the market improves
Goal: Secure pending deals, shift to virtual showings.
- Focus the team on securing pending deals
- Agents contact all leads to offer virtual showings
- Clean up database while checking in on past contacts and clients
- Problem solve to customize listings and ensure smooth conversion flow
Goal: Discover what they need, adjust coaching to give them that.
- Daily morning call (as per existing routine)
- Extra team huddles as needed
- Ask agents what they need
- Set up virtual problem-solving sessions
- Update your training to include support content
“Ask questions, then show up.”
Connect With Customers And Candidates
"The show has not stopped. [Agents] need to show now more than ever that they're getting creative for their sellers."
Justin Levitch, President, RLAH Real Estate
Location: Washington, DC area
Team Structure: 250 agent brokerage over 5 offices
"The entire playbook for us has changed in an instant," says Justin.
He’s noticed that even the heaviest prospectors on the team are slowing down. Still, he’s just signed on three new agents and is regularly checking in with his recruitment leads to nurture those relationships by offering information and support.
"Don't reach out to the new people. This is now the time to engage your people [that you already have a relationship with.]" It’s a strategy he’s also using on the business’s front end.
Some of Justin’s agents are still posting listings but instead of moving swiftly on to the next one like they normally would, they’re taking time to improve their listing marketing plans to include virtual marketing tools. Others are asking for help with their website and other 'catch up' type work. Overall, agents are requesting fewer prospecting-oriented marketing materials and focusing more on improving the process for existing clients and leads.
But everyone’s keeping in touch. “They want to talk to us. They’re so happy we made that call,” says Justin.
- Transactional marketing will continue
- Digital sales processes will become the norm
Goal: Strengthen your connection with existing leads, update your sales tools and process
- Don’t reach out to new people, engaging with existing database
- Provide steady stream of relevant content for agents
- Embed matterports into flyers for virtual open houses
- Show team members how to show clients MLS using Hangout and Zoom
Goal: Continue to recruit and onboard new agents
- Keep recruiting (from existing candidate pool)
- Ask recruiters to call them and check-in
- Create a leadership call list to ensure regular 1:1 check-ins with agents
- Facebook Secret Group to engage with agents
- Help agents update their prospecting systems
“We want to make sure that we stay positive when we talk to the agents. There's a chance that your spring just got moved to fall or winter. It doesn't mean that the year is shot."
Be Present and Confident
“For your agents, be present and be confident. They need your support.”
Beth Nordaune, Team Leader/Associate, RE/MAX Results & Owner, The Enclave Team
Location: Rochester and Twin Cities, MN
Team Structure: 24 person team
Real Estate is deemed essential in Minnesota, so agents can show if they want, but people on Beth's team have different thoughts. “Everyone needs to decide for themselves what their comfort level is.”
Some agents are willing to work, some want to work with sphere only, and some want to stay in completely.
For the time being, Beth is leaving it up to agents to decide how comfortable they are with showings right now. She advises her agents to have their mind made up so they have a prepared answer and don’t feel pressured to say yes to a prospect that wants to meet in person.
For most of Beth's agents, virtual showings are definitely happening. Beth and her team are still posting listings and their marketing and prospecting is still on track, but the message has changed.
To help agents pivot their sales messaging, Beth and the team have brainstorming calls to talk discuss how different people are perceiving and reacting to the situation.
She also leads daily 15-minute video conferences for the entire team to keep spirits high.
- Deals will continue to be made
- Internal communication will speed up and slow down according to how the situation develops
Goal: Keep marketing, but keep it tasteful.
- Offer virtual showings
- Change sales message to one of helping, not selling
- Invite leads to relevant web meetings and virtual tools
Goal: Focus on connection and community to keep agents moving forward
- Daily 15-minute video conference for entire team
- Follow up with a sales check-in to troubleshoot sales challenges
- Keep it fun with (e.g. virtual dance party).
- Provide real estate specific updates daily or weekly
“For your agents, be present and be confident. They need your support.”
Be A Resource To Your Community
“We want to be the hometown heroes through this thing.”
Brad Allen, Broker, The ART of Real Estate
Location: Columbia & Greenville, South Carolina
Team Structure: Boutique brokerage with
"We're still seeing contracts coming in, we're still seeing listings coming in. We're seeing houses fly off the shelf."
Brad watched 45 houses go on the market last week in their local downtown district, half were under contract in 5 days. Brad personally listed his house a few days ago and already has two offers.
Like Beth, he leaves it up to agents to decide what they're comfortable with given their own health and family situations. As the team leader, he’s focused on keeping things moving. "I'm focused on getting business on the flip side of this."
Brand focuses on being a community resource. He has an in-house videographer who interviews people in the community about how they're responding, what their takeout options are, etc. Any tips that people might find helpful in an uncertain time.
"We want to become the hometown heroes through this, that are actually helping the community," says Brad.
He is actively engaging with his team on social media to let them know they’re all in this together. Above all, Brad believes investing time and money into the right things now will make a big impact on the way he and his team bounce back.
"Everybody's gonna say 'Look at your costs, see what you can cut…' Yeah, sure, be conscious of that. But I think sometimes people cut way too much and it's gonna be a hindrance to them in the future."
- Teams that get creative and market well now will see more business when things pick up
- Teams that cut too much are going to have a harder time bouncing back
Goal: Become a community resource.
- Record 5 to 6 videos per day with helpful tips for prospects
- Share videos on social media
- Update your messaging in your CRM
Goal: Keep agents engaged.
- Use Slack channels to track transactions
- Host virtual happy hours and book clubs via Google Hangouts and Zoom
- Check in and engage personally and on social media
"Your job is to keep the momentum going."