COVID-19 has upended all our lives. It seems like the conditions and recommendations in the United States are changing on a daily, if not hourly, basis. The states that are currently most affected have large cities with international travel hubs. New York City, for example, has over 132 million passengers passing in and out of its airports each year. This averages to 11 million passengers per month. Given the amount of movement, New York City is a hot bed and ground zero for major pandemic issues. As a nation, we rapidly become more affected by this disease. Many workers, including those in real estate are losing business by the minute.
What’s Happening In New York State
Due to COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York issued an order for non-essential workers to remain home. In New York State, this includes realtors, even if the realtor is in a town that has yet to be touched my the virus. According to the Albany Business Review, realtors “can’t hold open houses, showings and in-person listing presentations due to the coronavirus pandemic.” Realtors are allowed to continue to work from home, but cannot make cold calls according to the NYSAR. As agents rely on commissions, stopping all showings is deeply problematic. Agents are still able to market properties online with virtual tours and other types of outreach, however. Many agents are choosing to ignore laws and risk fines. This could potentially cause future issues with licensing. Many are seeing the complete stall of all business.
Why New York State Matters
New York currently has the largest population affected by the virus in the United States. Due to the insidious nature of the virus, it will most likely continue to grow. As the pandemic continues, other Governors will look to New York State as a primary example. No one knows what the next few weeks will bring. We do know, however, that New York will be test-driving all measures, restrictions, and emergency plans. Most responses worldwide have called for isolation to combat the spread. The hope is that the virus will not surge elsewhere, but the likelihood of that is not great. No one wants to be a Negative Ned, but we do have to think about the proverbial “rainy days” that may lie ahead of us. New York, while possibly an extreme example, currently has many restrictions that affect realtors. Those include, but are not limited to: home showings, closings, apartment showings, rent freezes, and evictions.
What Should You Do To Prepare
Have a Clear Protocol for COVID-19.
- Your office should have a clear plan of what they are doing internally and externally given COVID-19. Look to the NAR Sample Preparedness Plan for more specific ideas. At this point, a specific plan needs to be formulated and communicated regardless of your geographical location.
Contact Your Clients (Current and Past)
- Make sure your current clients know what precautions you are taking to ensure safety. Are you giving virtual tours first instead of in-person tours of homes? Are you making sure all buyers are wearing booties? What are you doing to make that client feel as though you are protecting his or her best interest?
- Let your past clients know what information is coming from the state that may pertain to them given the local or federal government’s response to the pandemic. (Did your city freeze rent? Stop eviction proceedings? Stop realtors from showing apartments or homes?)
Prepare For a “Rainy Day.”
- No one knows the entire economic impact of COVID-19. However, we know that the conditions it is creating means for uncertain times. According to former Atlanta Fed president Dennis Lockhart, “recessionary conditions are definitely a risk.” So, it is important to prepare.
- According to financial advisers through CNBC, it is “wise to revisit your financial plan and assess your spending, debts and strategy” when preparing for uncertain economic conditions.
Build Up Connections
- Be sure to build connections through REALLY during this time. The impact of the virus will cause tremendous shifts to occur in a few months. If you are socially-isolating or self-quarantining, be sure to stay connected and build connections for future business. Additionally, spruce up your LinkedIn Page and tidy up your Facebook account, as well. Most will be using social media even more during these times.
Here’s To Hope and Preparation
We want to be hopeful, and we are. However, we do not want anyone to be caught blindsided during these already difficult times. Looking to New York State as an example of what the worst of times could look like is a sobering, but helpful exercise in preparedness. We know that we will triumph over this and recover as a nation. Until then, try your best to prepare, to be responsible, and to stay healthy.
Lindsey Quistgaard is the Content Marketing Director at REALLY. She has experience writing and curating marketing content and materials for various companies including NLyte DCIM Software Company, Orange-Ulster BOCES, and REALLY. Lindsey is also freelance writer, adjunct college professor, and published poet.