The past year seems to have passed by us in the blink of an eye. While business may have come to a standstill for many industries, it has been non-stop for countless real estate agents. Agents have been working tirelessly to help their clients, neighbors, family and friends alleviate fear and help them to buy and sell houses.
As we laughed, cried, celebrated and mourned, many lessons were learned over the past year. What remains consistently true is that the way we do business may be forever changed.
Life Lesson #1: Be Ready to Shift According to the Current Circumstances
Some of the biggest lessons learned were clearly articulated by agents, Bill and Liz Spears from Mason, Ohio.
They stated that markets change all the time, and people have to buy and sell houses no matter the market. During the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate has been considered an essential business in many states such as Ohio. The Spears are doing business as usual, along with following safety protocols to protect all involved.
They added that the market will continue to shift. When the economy is doing well, inventory can be scarce, so prices go up. The reverse happens when we have a market downturn and foreclosure rates starts rising. Then, many agents shift their business to doing short sales, they observed.
Buyers and Sellers need to be realistic in their expectations, they recommended. And emphasized that it’s important to know how to use tech tools to assist you in your business –whether it’s using electronic signing, giving virtual tours, providing professional photography, or creating videos. They recommend agents should be prepared to adapt and change to their local real estate market.
Life Lesson #2: Prioritize & Schedule
The demands on a real estate agent’s time are multiple. While preparing a contract, there can be numerous texts, calls and emails that come in requiring immediate attention. Also, working with clients can demand a great deal of attention and time, which often takes away from other important tasks at hand. And, now more than ever, the need to be available and assist one’s extended family has become very important.
That’s why having a reliable transaction management program, a CRM and daily planner is imperative to staying focused and productive. We know real estate professionals are always looking for ways to improve the transaction management experience for their clients.
Your daily planner will also include those goals that you aspire to achieve during the year. When one learns to schedule and prioritize, much more can be accomplished. This helps to achieve balance and time with work, family and self-care.
Life Lesson #3: Boundaries are the Road to Health and Wellness
Do you jump whenever you get a request from a client at the expense of eating, hydrating and exercising to maintain balance in your life? Many real estate agents are guilty of this in order to please their clients and earn a living, which is understandable.
Know that unless you take care of yourself and build your immune system, it will be difficult to meet the challenges of everyday life. It’s ok to say NO and give the person who is asking you to do something an alternative time. This includes family, friends and everyone in your life. Many real estate agents are also parents, caretakers of loved ones and volunteers in the community. Don’t neglect yourself. It’s important to make your personal wellness a priority.
What this pandemic has taught many is the value of healthy habits and having a healthy lifestyle. When you schedule your day, make sure to include food, beverages, exercise and sleep. This will lead to a higher level of life so you can take care of others better.
It all begins with you taking care of yourself.
Life Lesson #4: Build an Emergency Fund
As Real estate agents, income can fluctuate from month to month or seasonally. When the real estate market gets quiet and income is not coming in, it can be very frightening and stressful. Two things are important to figure out first:
First is having an emergency fund in the event no money is coming in. Many financial advisors say that it is important to have at least 4-6 months of expenses kept liquid in a checking or savings account that is dedicated solely as an emergency fund.
Second is tracking your spending and eliminating unnecessary spending. Then, creating a budget and reviewing it weekly. Some financial advisors recommend you create a budget, so you know what is going out each month, and then using only your debit card so you don’t overspend.
Ultimately, do what works best for you with the idea of not creating debt in your life by using credit cards, which can add to daily ongoing stress. There is an answer that will work for you to build a financial future no matter the market conditions.
Life Lesson #5: Create Positive Social Connections
Part of working in real estate means being the ear to the fears, concerns, anxiety and problems facing our clients each day. Listening is an important asset and skill.
Yet, who is listening to your concerns and the difficulties you face each day? Many keep it hidden inside, which can lead to stress and anxiety disorders. To maintain good mental health, it is important to reach out and have those connections that unite and fill you.
You can find them by joining groups that interest you. As an example, this can be forming or joining a social distancing walking group or joining a dog walking group. The pets enjoy this also!
Look for an online group that offers a hobby you are interested in learning. Or consider volunteering for things in your community, such as delivering food to neighbors. Religious organizations can be a source of rejuvenation. There are online support groups and just about anything you can think of today.
Or take a class from a teacher that inspires you. When you find something that you enjoy doing, it can help alleviate some stress. It can also be a good way to build a network of strong, positive social connections. Then, of course, there are the many real estate groups offered online. Within them, you can create your own small group that focuses on the issues most important to you.
The point is not to feel alone. Reach out and connect with someone. What this pandemic has taught many is the importance of social connection.
Life Lesson #6: Practice Gratitude
Many agents have held this single expression as what they have learned from the pandemic: Gratitude. Gratitude helps to create positive emotions that can balance and uplift one’s spirit. It is a source to improve health and deal with adversity. It’s a great practice to count your blessings on a daily basis by keeping a journal. It starts with one, the gift of life.
What the pandemic has taught real estate agents from all over the world is that we are totally interconnected no matter where we are located. That we can be adaptive and flexible in uncertain times and that we can find goodness and kindness in the darkest of circumstances.
Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.