Doing Real Estate During The Covid-19 Pandemic
It is tough to predict how Covid-19 will impact business in the next six months. Yet currently, it seems to be “business as usual” for me, “usual” being a relative term. I currently maintain listings but how Covid-19 impacts the Real Estate business here in British Columbia is dependent on the same factors it will affect everyone around the world. As it is, I am grateful for the technology such as secure e-signing and video conferencing, 21st-century conveniences that were unimaginable when I started that now help to mitigate the risks of spreading the virus. Until things are better, Realtors® will continue to follow our board’s mandated health protocols that are in place: masking, limited essential viewers, social distancing, cleaning before & after showings and... NO ON-SITES OPEN HOUSES! The BCREA and Fraser Valley Board has mandated no open houses and strict rules to view properties, including limiting people visiting a property to view. Appraisals and inspections are often done remotely or with very limited numbers of people allowed present in a property.
Personally, business has not been disrupted so much as narrowed the consumers of whom is buying and selling during this time. From my subjective anecdotal experience and observation, people whose jobs that are minimally effected, sometimes because they can telecommute, people who have always had an online aspect to their jobs and those intending to downsize to a smaller house, are largely those who can still consider listing or buying real estate.
The group my heart goes out to the most are certain seniors and their families who have to postpone their decision to moving to an independent living community because of the necessary health restrictions at this time in such communities. Such a move would mean families cannot see one another in person.
Otherwise, on the whole, Real Estate remains busy as usual in the lower mainland; in fact, the last couple of months have shown record breaking sales.
As much as possible Real Estate transactions are conducted through every electronic communication. Personal meetings are kept as essential as possible; no extraneous guests, masked and socially distanced concerned parties only, exercising mandated provincial and Fraser Valley Real Estate board’s health protocols. For me, real estate is always personal thus despite these rules, my goal is still to provide the best one on one service for my client’s individual needs. Currently, our Homelife White Rock office is not allowing work at our Brokerage. So we must work from home or on site at our listings; or showing properties following the protocols set out by our real estate board with covid protocols in place.
As a people person, I miss the personal interaction and I have to be aware that certain nuances like humour can be lost in typed communication such as texting or email (emojis are probably not professional when dealing with legal matters), so I need to constantly remind myself to keep the written very straightforward and save the subtleties of expression, voice and humour for the visual communications. As everyone with a phone has experienced, it’s important to double-check that message thanks to the “helpful” spell-check and dictation function. My assistant learned the hard way when the dictation function caught him swearing when he thought the message screen had disappeared. Good thing my colleague to whom he was messaging had a great sense of humour.
I miss the normal day to day in-person routine of being a realtor: seeing my colleagues, the weekly office tour, in-office sales meetings as opposed to our new found Zoom meeting, and I miss showing homes without a mask. All staff have been instructed to work from home and currently not allowed to work in the office with no clients able to meet at the office. When entering our office we are masked at all times and are required to regularly sanitize our hands.
I also miss holding an open house or sitting down with a client in the comfort of their home discussing the needs of selling for whatever the season of life that their circumstance represents.
On a personal level I work almost 100% of the time from my home office in a bubble of two (discounting the dog), me and my husband-assistant. We are voracious cleaners and keep personal errands to the absolute essential while masked and carry our trusty hand sanitizer everywhere. As with shopping, my visits to my Homelife White Rock headquarters if ever, are usually socially distanced, masked in & out affairs, usually to pick up mail or keys. I cannot imagine a scenario that would be mandatory for a client to meet me there during this pandemic and neither will I encourage it, as stringent as Homelife’s office rules are. So far, when I have taken out buyers we have travelled in separate cars. Everyone seems fine with this arrangement no matter how disinfected my car is prepared. All meetings with clients are encouraged by Zoom, and contracts are generally signed via eSign. Obviously, there are exceptions where clients are limited by not having the benefit of these resources. Meetings are always encouraged by following all work safe protocols and government-mandated guidelines due to the current Covid restrictions, which are updated regularly. We BC Realtors® are defined by our provincial government as an essential non-emergency service.
Just as you who are reading this, I am no exception in missing the personal interaction. As I type this, only one person, my sister, can visit my senior parents, as requested by my parents’ residence. We decided this a few months back since I talk to my parents at least twice a day by phone, that she would be our designated visitor, partitioned with plexiglass between them once a week, which at times only heightens the loneliness. This decision was made never realizing that it would now be months since I can see my own parents. I now will never take for granted a hug or a simple drop-in visit even with the good news of a vaccine on the horizon, as I am writing this. As I heard a reporter say, there is light at the end of the tunnel but that end of the tunnel may be months away, thankfully.
I am getting through this as I am reminded that these protocols are just for now, not forever.
My rights don’t exist without our rights; we do this for one another. As the Christmas season approaches, I now see all that I took for granted. Right now, we are collectively one body to a non-discriminating unthinking virus. Still, my heart is with all who are impacted economically and in health, never taking for granted the blessings that I do currently have could be turned upside-down at any time. I also think of the self-sacrifice of all our front line workers who cannot say no to attending their posts: the doctors, the nurses, the hospital workers, grocery workers, truckers, and the list goes on. For me to complain on how this has impacted my business and personal life would only add to the noise of a very unusual time in history. My hope and prayer is that we do all we can to take care of each other so we can all enjoy some dear customs of normal life in the next year to come. Next year, the time with loved ones will be that much sweeter knowing I did all I could to make sure they stay safe and healthy.
If I may borrow
and be safe.”
And here’s to hoping I can have tea with you in 2021.