Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops—rose 3.1% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.00 million in January.
GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Patience is a Virtue—Who Ever Said That?
Everyone knows the old proverb that patience is a virtue. However, it’s not a virtue I’ve been able to embrace very easily. At the end of February, the real estate market was chugging along at a brisk pace. We were getting ready to launch OneKey MLS. I was repeating my mantra that change is good and we have to get in front of change and mold change to our benefit. And then the Coronavirus headlines starting to become more prevalent and the cases started to come closer and closer to home. And then we hit the “Pause” button and real estate as we know it stopped.
In many ways the last two months have been busier than ever. HGAR transitioned to a virtual environment in the span of one weekend and our Success Team continues to answer hundreds of phone calls every week. Just this past week we launched a new “chat” feature to enhance our communications with our HGAR family. Our education team led by Director of Professional Development Vicki D’Agostino transitioned all of the scheduled spring classes to a Zoom environment in the span of a week, and they are adding even more classes to the schedule. Committee meetings and Task Forces are now meeting on a regular basis via zoom.
However, while we have transitioned our association to a virtual environment, and while our members are engaging in as many virtual property showings as possible, we also know that real estate has come to a grinding, though hopefully temporary, halt. It’s been almost eight weeks since the “Pause” order has been in place, and recently we’ve seen the benefits. COVID-19 new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are significantly down. However, for many of us, it has tested our patience. Being confined to a “Zoom” environment with no one on one in-person interactions gets pretty old after a while. Being told that showings must be confined to a virtual environment with no in-person showings is starting to chafe.
When the Pause button was hit back in March, the speculation on recovery time went into overdrive. Many suggested that because the economy was so strong prior the COVID-19 it would be a “V” shaped recovery. The staggering surge in unemployment numbers is casting a bleak shadow over prospects of a quick recovery. Quite frankly, reading all of the pundits’ predictions on the length of the current economic downturn is exhausting, and from my perspective pointless until we have more data.
The difficult lesson I am learning is that we have to be patient in those situations when we know it’s for the greater good in stopping the spread of COVID-19. As I write this article neither New York City nor the Mid-Hudson Valley have been given the green light for a phased re-opening of the economy. I am being advised that some real estate licensees have lost patience and are engaging in in-person showings, which is in conflict with the Governor’s Pause order. Such activities could jeopardize the launch of that green light.
We need to be patient in waiting for the economy to get its footing and start to rebound. We are still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and we still do not know if there will be a resurgence of the virus later this year, or next. We need to be patient and empathetic with our co-workers, neighbors and friends, many of whom may have been touched by COVID-19. As I said in my article last month, I don’t believe life will go back to normal quickly, and indeed we will, in all likelihood, have a new normal where virus testing and containment becomes a way of life until an effective vaccine is developed.
Where we don’t have to be patient is how we prepare for this new normal. In my mind virtual is here to stay. How we communicate with our clients and how we negotiate on their behalf could well be changed for good. The types of tools and techniques we use to close a transaction may be very different from pre-COVID-19 to post COVID-19. Now is the time to learn and hone these new skills and embrace what is sure to be a very different real estate environment, and HGAR will offer as many educational opportunities as possible to help our members with this transition.
To all the members of the HGAR family, stay well and stay safe!