The Truth About Real Estate Today By Shannan McWaters
I keep getting asked "How's the market now?"
Everyone that asks has a different motive. Some people ask because they are in a situation where they MUST sell their house and you can feel their face cringe through the phone as they twist out the words. There are the ones who ask because their house is sold, and they have no idea where they are going to go... yet they still have to move out. I have those who message the question because their business is dependent on homes selling and they have families to feed. Many times, the question comes from another agent hoping my answer will give them hope or insight into their own livelihood. I have gotten the question from people that sold or bought a home before all of this hit and they wonder if my answer might give them a momentary feeling of relief that they made a choice that saved them from some unknown penance. We are all looking for thoughts that give us any form of peace right now. Some people ask how the market is because they are my friends and it's an easy way to find out if I am worried about my family's financial security since both my husband and myself support our family through real estate. My answer to all who ask, no matter who's asking, or why they are asking is, "I really don't know." I think that today, March 22, 2020 if anyone tells you anything is "absolutely" this way or that way... you need a new source. The only thing certain in this world right now, besides the love of God, is uncertainty. The only thing consistent is the constant change. Today's standard is not tomorrow's. My husband was interviewed by a reporter over a week ago and asked how our market was being affected. He gave his honest answer for that day. He basically said that houses were still being listed and shown because it's usually a more one on one type event as far as individual showings go and that he expected the market to come back strong when this whole thing was over. It was was a simple answer and made sense for that day. It wasn't just "true", it was the "truth". Three days later the article was released and then shortly after that the same reporter publicly criticized him for being unauthentically optimistic. He basically accused my husband of misleading people in a time where they needed the truth about investing.
Today I got up and put on a nice sweater and my biggest pair of jeans. I knew my quarantine diet would demand these roomier pants. I took a shower and curled my hair, just the front really, because for this particular work day no one would be seeing the back of my hair. My feet applauded as I traded my usual four inch heels for mismatched fuzzy Halloween socks. Today was my first day as a virtual agent. I felt nervous and wondered if I could do this. I had my first listing interview since the Coronavirus took over almost every facet of our lives. My only option to try and win this listing, where I was competing against other agents that wanted the listing as badly as I did, and who may still be meeting clients in person, was to send the seller my presentation in advance and then conduct the interview via Facetime. (I should also mention that the client was not 100% sure they even knew how to use Facetime) You see, not only is my family respecting social distancing recommendations but I have been sick. Sick enough and sick long enough to get tested. Unlike 329,858 other people my test came back negative. I made choices in those days of sickness to completely change my business until this is over no matter what the test result was. On Monday when I was asked to come interview, Just 6 days later, the world was a different place. If I wasn't sick it would have been expected that I interview in person. Monday was the same day my husband was asked his thoughts by a reporter on the real estate market and he gave a positive response. If he were asked today, I know him, he would still have something positive to say but not because he was offering false hope as he was accused, but because he believes it. He believes that our market, just like our people, and just like our world will bounce back. He knows there will be damage, but he knows we will not be defeated. That is the way he was raised. That is the culture of his profession. That is his truth. We all see agents posting "The market is still hot, Now is the time, Multiple offers, No need to wait". And while some of that is "true" not all of that is "truth", so I get it. Here's an example at our house. We had a closing this week and we have one next week. Today we received an offer above list on a house that was just listed yesterday. We had three showings on another new listing. We are most likely listing 2 or 3 houses next week. All "true" but not the whole "truth". The closing we had was in the works for over a month and a half and the signatures were done remotely. None of the contingencies on this deal were met "after Corona". The closing we have next week was supposed to close last week. Who knows if it will really close. The offer we received was great but normally a house like this would have received three times the activity. The new listing showed but there were lots of questions about how do we do this and is it safe. The new listings for next week are people that really have to sell because they are being transferred, because they already bought another house or because suddenly now financially they need to sell their house. It would be easy for me to post the parts of these scenarios that are "true" and attempt to breathe exaggerated life into my business but I think now is the time for transparency. For those of us like my husband (when you are PURELY talking about the real estate market, and you survived 2008) this is not the worst we have seen so to find optimism here is not that hard. If you call us in 3 days we may say it's getting better, we may say it's worse but for right now there IS activity and homes are being listed, shown and sold. We are rapidly learning new ways to do this. Is it a good time to buy or sell? The truth is, "There is still a lot of activity in the market." But the truth is also "I really don't know". No one knows. Realtors are an interesting bunch. There will most likely need to be a cease and desist served on every Realtor in this city to stop us from trying to do our jobs. It is how we survive but that's not why we are unstoppable and why we are optimistic about our business. The paycheck is not the reason we are home learning best practices to keep our clients safe, using our social media platform to promote local businesses, adding technical tools to work from our dining room table and figuring out any way possible to keep doing what we do. We do it because home ownership is not something that can be quarantined. Everyone needs a place to live. When a client calls and says "Please help me"... WE DO and we will continue to "do" until we just can't "do" anymore. Whether we are sick, or learning to home school kids, or worried about our families getting sick, or worried about not being able to pay our bills, we just do. If you are trying to decide if you want to buy or sell your home we can't tell you exactly how it's going to go right now, but we can tell you the truth. We can tell you what we are seeing at the moment and we can tell you we are here, ready to help you anyway we can. We will listen to your fears and hide our own as we try to lead you through this uncharted water. So as you scroll through your feed, read articles we are quoted in or when you call us, please forgive our optimism concerning your largest investment. People are hurting physically, financially and emotionally all over the world. Realtors are not healthcare professionals on the front lines of this new war but we have a role. We all have a role. Some of us will be forced into the best version of ourselves through this experience. Some may be embarrassed of the way we reacted. We can all play a part in bringing this to an end and we can all play a part in the recovery. There have been few times in our lives that our homes were more important to us. So if you see your Realtor still out there trying to do their job, and put a positive spin on something... please go easy on your criticism. You may not know their story or story of the person they are trying to help. I was honored and slightly tearful at the news that my first virtual sellers told me right on the spot that I got the listing. I took a deep breath and looked back at my Facetime call and said "I can't promise you that we will sell your house fast...but don't you worry...we will sell it. That is the truth." I could tell they believed me.
So today here is the final truth I will leave you with: There is plenty of fear and uncertainty that you can tune into. It is on every channel and in most people's minds but if you are looking for someone to tell you it is hopeless right now, it is not going to be your Realtor.
Stay safe, stay well, stay grateful.