As the COVID-19 pandemic gradually begins to recede, we have now started to sift through the wreckage and decide what to throw away and what to save from such a deep and prolonged disruption. When it comes to the real estate industry, probably the trickiest factor will be managing the expectations that have changed in all this chaos.
As we all know, expectations are slippery things at the best of times. They are based less on data or facts than on scraps of mixed emotions, anecdotes and observations. And when it comes to residential real estate markets, the expectations that have taken root in a frenetic market have been even more problematic than usual.
Part of the reason is the large number of changes that have taken place during the extended lockdown.
Among them, agents and brokers have learned to use new technologies in new ways, the way of connecting with people internally and externally has changed as remote working has replaced office life, executives were faced with new challenges in terms of maintaining the office culture and remote teams, support staff found their rhythm working from home, buyers added new lifestyle features to their wish lists and the protocols for the physical visualization of houses have become much more stringent.
READ: Agents of change: A hot housing market is testing real estate professionals
And all of this unfolded, it should be noted, in a residential market on fire, setting new records in terms of sales volumes and prices.
The common thread running through each of these individual factors is their collective impact on expectations on all sides of a transaction. The challenge going forward is how the inevitable recalibration in the real estate industry will be shaped and managed – and to what extent altered expectations drive permanent structural change.
Let’s start with the technology.
After a relatively short race to find their feet, brokerage houses and agents quickly pivoted to an entirely virtual sales process and, where all physical presentation took place, strict new protocols. It had no impact on the speed of sales – or prices – and, in fact, turned out to be both cost and time efficient. The question now is how will the extreme reliance on technology recalibrate itself in an industry that has always been very personal and face to face?
Will physical open doors return? Sellers may well prefer the ease of virtually showcasing their homes and lobbying for this practice to continue. Buyers can be just as excited to grab the opportunity to inspect a home, respectively, while agents naturally want to build lasting personal relationships, strengthen networks, and generate leads for future sales.
For some parts of the home resale transaction, the genius of technology will not be put back into the bottle. The use of video, virtual tours and virtual open houses to showcase announcements will continue to grow and will be increasingly expected from customers in the same way that high definition photography is a tabletop issue today. hui. Efficiency-driven technological solutions replacing low-value personal interactions are here to stay, and we should expect more growth and innovation.
Technology is also a key factor in how the inside brokerage culture will evolve in the future. While he streamlined operations, he also affected the soft tissue of any organization: the culture. The habit of going personally to the office – and all the informal interactions that come with it – was in decline even before COVID hit. Once this habit was broken, it was difficult to attract support staff and agents. Again, conflicting expectations are at stake.
For those yearning for the human connection in person, there could be some good news ahead, especially if you look at what’s going on in the United States (where they are ahead of Canada on the second vaccine front). Feedback from partners and colleagues in the US is that the resumption of in-person events has been very well received. And while most are grateful for video conferencing apps deep in pandemic blockades, for many, the experience of in-person interactions has further underscored the value of in-person interactions.
Hiring and retaining staff, on the other hand, has become a bigger challenge than ever. For those with jobs that can be done remotely, those who don’t want to go back to the office and feel pressured to do so, or those who don’t feel like commuting from their new suburban digs, the d other options await them.
Nowhere are the altered expectations more apparent than when it comes to listing and selling homes in a frenzied post-COVID resale market. Remember the early days of the pandemic, when the few brave, bargain-hunting souls on the buyers’ side dressed in their full PPE to view the homes, clearly waiting for offers from grateful sellers? What a difference a few months make! Having grown accustomed to soaring prices, bidding wars, bullying offers, and personal letters from buyers tugging at sellers’ hearts to accept their inflated bids, sellers quickly came to expect to what they call the hits and, quite possibly, command a hefty premium over the listing price.
As markets stabilize and demand begins to moderate – which was reported in the May data – one of the biggest challenges for agents in their role as “trusted advisors” is navigating these markets. expectations and realigning them, while competing with those who keep promising too much just to get a list. (You know who you are.)
Agents who play the long game will attest to the benefit of educating their customers with real-time data to manage expectations up front rather than dealing with disappointments and frustrations down the road.
Market signals suggest that, despite the persistent imbalance in supply and demand, we are past the frenzy peak. But of course, that’s just a wait.
This article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.
Gavin Swartzman is the CEO of Peerage Realty Partners. Peerage Realty, which sold $ 18 billion in real estate in 2020, is a family of companies that includes Baker Real Estate Limited, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. and Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. This review applies what Gavin has learned as an accomplished drummer: Always listen to the offbeat, because a few well-placed hits on the offbeat are what make a memorable groove.