Real Estate Lessons Learned from COVID-19 | Dotloop

Real Estate Insights and Lessons Learned from COVID-19



April 08, 2020 | comments

Q&A with Daryl Rogers, President of BHGRE Reliance Partners

Recently, I was able to connect with Daryl Rogers, President of Better Homes and Gardens RE | Reliance Partners, Roseville, CA, to reflect on lessons learned from the past recession and how this new event may forever change real estate.


How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will change real estate?

This is going to be the driving force behind change in the real estate industry. All of the touchpoints — from seeing the lender to the title company and meeting inspectors — many people are going to realize that they didn’t have to be there on site. It’s going to be tough for old-school agents. You know, the question may become, ‘Did you really need to sit at the house for two hours while the inspector did his inspection?’ It’s a little like that moment when you were the last person faxing docs. It’s going to change our thinking.

What lessons did you learn from the 2007-2008 recession? What takeaways will you apply, if any?

No. 1, you have to pivot fast. You can’t wait and try to figure it out four or five months down the line. Back then, we pivoted to short sales, REOs and foreclosures and started training immediately. We hit the ground running. We got together with our leadership and figured out what will be important. What will shift when this will all be over? What can we do to keep the agents active and busy so we are moving forward? We can’t just sit here and say, ‘woe is me.’ So we must ask ourselves, ‘What are the pivot points we can take now?’ We learned that when the market tanked in 2007 and people were losing properties, they were so caught up in the middle they didn’t look down the line.

In some sense, I think this hit is going to be a bigger smack to the face in a shorter amount of time. Most people believe it will be gone faster than the last recession.

It’s all about pivoting. I just had this call with leadership. There’s a tendency to just go crazy because you’re trying to help people. You know, hold 47 trainings a week and then agents become overwhelmed. Instead, we need to break it down and say, ‘These are the 5 things they can do right now and get them into a routine.’ Don’t hit agents with 27 things. Rather, come up with something succinct and easy for them to remember.

What are the top 5 things you’re asking your agents to focus on?

1. Focus on setting a schedule

Being at home can make you lose your mind and lose your focus. Just because you’re at home, maybe work on marketing on Tuesdays, your database on Wednesday and current clients on Thursday. Stick to a schedule and go with it. More specific to this market, I believe strongly when this thing turns, I think we’re going to see a rocket ship take off. People are going to want to get the economy moving. There will be pent-up buyer demand, sellers who couldn’t list and everything is going to hit big.

2. Get the House List-Ready

Ordinarily, it can take two to three weeks to get a property on the market. Use the two to three weeks now to get it ready. We’re telling our agents to tell their clients to do a video of their homes and get their homes list-ready during this time. So that way, when the time comes to list, we just have to get the 3D videos and drone out to the property. We should have nearly everything ready to go for those who want to list.

Even though you can’t show houses, you can send buyers five listings with virtual tours and get their feedback. Find out what they like and don’t like, so you can narrow things down and be ready to go when that time frame comes. I say, pay attention because this is going to change in 10 minutes.

3. Get Financials In Order

Agents should pinpoint buyers and sellers to line them up for the transactions tomorrow.

Tell clients to look at your cash flow and expenses. They might not feel the hit right now, but advise them to not do a bunch of online shopping, because by May/June they might not have the funds. Also, remind them to get their loan paperwork in now and don’t wait. That way, they’re fully ready to go when the time hits.

4. Think About Hiring for Tomorrow

I say let’s interview staff people now so we can be ready. If this thing hits and turns around — and it will — we’re going to need to make some quick hires. We might need two photographers instead of one, for example. There’s a good chance that multiple listings will hit us in 30 days.

Another thing that will come out of this I think is we’re such a workaholic nation, we’re so go, go, go and don’t spend a lot of time in our houses that by everyone staying at home for three weeks, I think you’re going to see many people looking to get out of their current house after this.

5. Use Your Downtime Wisely

We’re telling our agents to check in with their clients but don’t necessarily make it about real estate. Ask, ‘How you’re doing? What’s going on with your house?’ Most of our offices up here in California’s Sierra foothills are like a very big family community. Think about the high school seniors who suddenly lost their senior year and can’t go to their proms and sports events. All of our lives are being affected. So reaching out to people and helping them to break up the boredom of being at home is a great way to keep those connections alive.

Also, clean up your database. Make a call to everyone. Find out who’s an A, B or C. Even if agents just put one hour a day on their database, now’s the time to work on that thing that they always wanted to do whether it’s creating a new market slogan or logo or pulling all your numbers into QuickBooks. Take all those ‘I want to do’s’ and do them now.

Remember, if you’re using Zillow or BoomTown or whatever for your leads, the people from whom you’re getting leads today are buying 90 days from now. Keep nurturing those leads. The worst case scenario would be that you nurtured too many and you can’t keep up with them once the time hits.

Also, if you need a license renewed, now’s also a great time to get some CE training.

Have there been any silver linings from the recent changes?

One of the silver linings I’ve seen is tech stack adoption has gone through the roof! Reliance Switchboard traffic has almost doubled in the last week.

There are many positives that will come out of this. We’ll see the mortgage industry switching to desktop appraisals. In many neighborhoods, the algorithms are pretty accurate and we won’t need physical assessments. It’s a lender-by-lender decision. Even before coronavirus, we’re seeing lots of appraisal waivers. The automated models have been around and are getting better, especially in suburban neighborhoods.

If your agents can’t show/sell with shelter in place implemented, what are other ways to get your business processes in order?

We have the tech to do a 100% remote transaction, but there are still obstacles. The biggest one is the actual showing and viewing of a home. Yes, you can do virtual tours and live video throughout, but I don’t believe a large percentage of the buying public will ever embrace not being able to see the house sight unseen. They want to see and feel the house.

On the flipside, the tech is all there. Clients don’t want to go to multiple places to sign. They want online lending applications, online mortgages and title signings. Even an inspector can do inspections by video. There are lenders or entities that won’t take a digital signature, but the majority still do. A mobile notary is no different; it’s still a wet signature.

How are your agents educating clients? What are they covering?

Some of the topics our agents are fielding include, ‘Why should I put my home on the market today? Should I wait until December or get it ready for showing in May?’ We tell our agents to stay focused on the same reasons that have always been there for buyers and sellers. Ask ‘Why are you buying or selling?’ Divorce, marriage, pregnancy, retirement, moving up, moving down — all of those reasons for moving haven’t changed because of the virus. So we tell our agents to stay focused on the decision and off the current news as much as possible.

Byrd Bergeron, Strategic Partnerships Manager at dotloop

Byrd Bergeron

Byrd is the Strategic Partnerships Manager at dotloop. She works directly with the top real estate franchises across North America to implement brand specific integrations and strategize for each franchise conference. Her mission is to empower real estate brokers and agents to create an incredible client experience.