Real Estate is ever changing, ever evolving, and it seems is changing to a point where the Internet and information overload online is our new future.
But then the middle of March happened. The entire city, province and country had gone into lockdown to #plankthecurve. Our health care professionals, frontline workers and all the services to keep us well became our lifeline. In the midst of this all, real estate became an essential service.
So with real estate being essential, we have been forced to move to the online world of ZOOM meetings and Facebook Live open houses. We now offer 3D imaging of homes to our customers and are mandated to provide extra disclosures when representing sellers and buyers to protect us all from the spread of COVID.
If this is the new normal for the sale of real estate, have we as a society achieved what we wanted to from the industry? Albeit catapulted to this new way of life through a pandemic. But were we not moving to this direction?
Instead of calls, we text and direct message. Instead of face to face meetings, we use email to convey our intentions to buy or sell.
Now of course, these aren’t normal circumstance that we are living in. But I’m asking, is this the way today’s consumer appreciates working with the real estate industry?
In the just over the five years I’ve been in the real estate business, we have seen the introduction of online sold information available to the public, the introduction of new real estate models and discount brokerages here in Calgary and the province, the growing of the iBuyer model (investment partnerships and funds purchasing property from home owners for the intention of flip or long term growth) and a growing push on real estate professionals to convey to the consumer where we can add value.
None of these developments have come out of thin air. These are all pushes from consumers like you to have more transparency and options to enter into the real estate industry. We know this because none of the above programs would exist if there wasn’t an audience behind them.
But where are we now?
I had a chat with my previous brokerage owner in March and told me something interesting. He said, through all of the downturns our city and the world has seen to affect our market in past, the traditional real estate model grows stronger. We grow in market share and in consumer confidence.
I had asked how can that be? We aren’t the cheapest, there are discount brokerages for that. We don’t have the guarantee to sell someone’s home, iBuyers offer that. All the information is available to the public to determine what they feel is market value.
He told me something that I think was really profound. He said, “Aly, you are missing the point!” He then went on to tell me that in real estate, yes, we trade properties. But that’s not our business. Our business is people. Our business is helping that first-time buyer navigate the achievement of one of their dreams of owning their first home. Or being empathic to that seller that lost their job and doing everything you can to help them get out of that situation.
I think more than ever, that message really came through to me.
Today, as I write this, one of the largest property listing services in the US, Zillow, has suspended all of its instant offer (iBuyer) programs. The new discount brokerages that have entered the market are still asking for their full fees to sell properties upfront. These fees are low, but also don’t carry a guarantee of a sale. And I’ve seen an example of an iBuyers offering significantly lower than market value to a homeowner to purchase the property to hold or flip.
But none of these programs have been able to speak to customers, family and friends. Let them vent their situations about their home situation or their hardships during this time. They also aren’t offering to help their clients with grocery delivery or community outreach to produce essential goods. They aren’t organizing help to local businesses during this time through work or gift cards to provide clients that are waiting for food pickup delays from the grocery store.
This is the business we are in as real estate and mortgage professionals. We are in the business of caring for our people, whether they be our clients, friends, family, or just the next person. We do what we need to ensure our fellow person has been taken care.
My favourite quote, which I shared a few days ago really stands true to this:
"The true worth of a man is not measured by what he does for himself, but what he does for someone else. And if you help another, without concern for a reward or gold. What you give, you shall receive tenfold." - DMX
During this pandemic, I have had sellers remove their home from the market. Buyers have paused their searches and plans. But also, in this time, I’ve had the great opportunity to call and FaceTime some my best friends, family and clients. The conversations all start the same way, we both ask, “how are you doing/feeling?” Many times, real estate does not come up, other times it comes up because those that I speak with are concerned about how my business is doing. It’s in these relationships where I see that we are most definitely in the people business.
So, is the world of online shopping, instant offers and virtual tours replacing the world of belly to belly interaction, care, empathy and service?
Not any time soon.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I would love to connect with you and chat about it or any else you’d like to speak about. My information is below as well as my handles on social media. Thank you. Take care. Be safe.
If you'd like to support local restaurants, CIR currently is offering 1 of 6 $100 Skip the Dishes gift cards. To enter, visit my Instagram handle at @alyjanmohamed and find my weekly good vibes post or click here for details. These business have Skip the Dishes and services like it allowing them to continue to provide their wonderful food to us all during this time and keep their doors open for the future.