As I see it, there are two ways to handle a crisis as deep and far ranging as the coronavirus pandemic. You can hang out in the shallow end of the pool with other real estate professionals you know, having fear-based conversations and commiserating about the state of the affairs. Or you can join the small handful of others who are in the deep end of the pool, taking this opportunity to reinvent their businesses for success, no matter what’s coming down the road.
Both ends of the pool can be uncomfortable for different reasons. The shallow end can be deceiving: It looks like the easier place to be and it’s also the path of least resistance. There are more people to talk to, and it doesn’t take much mental energy to worry or complain about what’s happening in the market or on the news. But if you are honest with yourself, it will eventually become clear that such an approach will keep you treading water, or worse, cause you to slowly start sinking.
The deep end offers a different challenge. You’re often going at it alone. The focus is on uncomfortable topics like how your business needs to adjust. There are no rules to follow, and you’re working hard every day to stay afloat.
I know how it feels because, in addition to being a life coach for real estate professionals, I’ve also spent the last 13 years as an active agent. I have a solid understanding of what it takes to get the job done.
Most of my coaching clients were in the shallow end this spring. Once we collectively got past the initial shock and began to adjust, I started challenging them. It was clear to me that this could be an opportunity for those who were willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work.
The fact is, there is opportunity in adversity. You just have to look for it. No matter what the economic situation, someone has prospered because of it. The people and companies making more income than they’d ever anticipated right now are the ones that have pivoted. I watched as they made adjustments early on. Take, for example, Panera Bread. They saw that their drive-thru system wasn’t efficient and revamped it. They also created a light grocery pick-up for things like milk and bread that they were already stocking. Finally, they entered the delivery service market quickly and offered cash incentives to customers willing to try it out.
Take a minute to look around your world and see who else is thriving. When you notice these shifts happening around you, it opens the door to seeing opportunities in your business as well.
So how do you apply these lessons to your industry? Start by imagining you have a crystal ball and can look into the future. What do you think the real estate market might look like? My guess is that we’re heading into an era marked by more distressed sales.
There are a few concrete actions you can proactively take today to position yourself as an authority if that happens. How about registering with asset management companies, or getting certified as a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource? Have you considered affiliating with auction sites? What if you were the go-to agent already positioned, well-versed and ready to help those sellers?
Financial stress also leads to more bankruptcy filings and credit issues, but you can be a life-line for your clients. Would it be worth the time to connect with your favorite lender to learn more about credit underwriting guidelines? Did you know that a buyer can purchase a home in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, after making 12 on-time payments to the trustee? That could be important for your clients to know as they are considering their options.
If you’ve been in the shallow end of the pool, I hope that you’re considering joining us over in the deep end. As the current situation evolves, some agents will falter, others will survive and a handful will thrive. I invite you to accept a challenge: Do one thing that will move you to where the future top producers are swimming right now. When you get here, come say hello. I’m looking forward to meeting you.
Teri Healy is a speaker and life coach for real estate professionals, serving agents and real estate teams across the U.S.