Sept 2020 stats

DAY 214 of COVID-19 Battle Plan: Virtual Life & New Challenges

First of all, I cannot believe I did my first “COVID-19 Battle Plan” post 214 days ago on March 22nd! I guess time flies when you are having fun! LOL! Not!  But… we are adjusting. I hope this does not become our new normal. So many things have changed. Then again, many have just evolved.  Some, I think, will be a permanent new state of affairs. Take, for example, virtual showings. Virtual showings, while much more prevalent now, have been part of our Realtor toolbox for ages! Check out my video done in early 2018. We were using an iPhone and a gimble and had a lot of fun with it. (Fortunately, I was blessed to be ably assisted by Niki Maturi, my Assistant Extraordinaire; Photographer; Videographer; and Graphic Artist!) I thought about this fun video earlier this week, because it was a virtual showing. Prior to this, I had made many videos to send to a client while previewing and sometimes, using Facebook Messenger or Skype, we held live video tours. This particular virtual showing was videoed live and then later edited for a promo video. (Niki and I actually had a lot of fun doing this and subsequently have done several “I LOVE MY JOB!” videos.) But now, rather than an occasional occurrence, we are conducting virtual tours and Open Houses for our clients almost daily. Of course, there are differences. One big change is that we would all be wearing masks! Another less sobering one is that before it was Skype or Facetime we used. Now it is more often ZOOM or What’s App, especially for our International Buyers!

Here is a BIG CHANGE: With inventory today at a two-month supply, the beachfront house in this video would have sold very quickly, even at $1000/sf,  if only for the lot value! Instead it took almost 1.5 years to sell and finally did close at $1,561,000 versus original asking price of $1,795,000. With over 1000 people per day moving to Florida, we are STARVING for inventory. There were 36% fewer listings in our area in Sept 2020 versus Sept 2019! But our total Sales/Dollar Volume for September  2020 versus 2019 was up by $1.5 billion or 38%! The average sales price is also up by 18% for 2020 versus 2019! The ‘moral’ of the story is that it is a VERY GOOD TIME TO BE A SELLER! And with mortgage rates almost ludicrously low and rental rates exceedingly high, it is also a GOOD TIME TO BUY!

The challenges in today’s market are:  As a Buyer, how to you buy intelligently? (Forget about buying cheaply unless you are prepared to do extensive rehab.)  And as a Seller, how do you achieve the best price? I recently had a listing appointment with a client that intended to do a FSBO, i.e., a For Sale By Owner. I am going to talk about that transaction and the challenges in another post. Suffice it to say that in our market, at every Open House, there is both a live and virtual stream of people to reach and manage. Then there is the potential for bidding wars. (Personally, I do not like them – but that too will be covered in a future post.) There is also the issue of the appraisals. Cash is KING, as always. Today CASH is even more important, as escalating prices are not always acknowledged by the appraiser.  That means advocating for your non-cash Buyers is another important skill.  Safety, while always a concern, now has a whole new twist!

What’s the bottom line? Life and business go on. We evolve! 214 days later I still get out of bed one foot at a time. I lament that moment when I reluctantly, but religiously step on the scale. (More so 214 days later than I did, by the way! ;o) I work seven days per week, every week – not 5 or 6!  But, I  am not complaining! I am happy to have a job. And that job manages to help me keep my people employed. And my people help our property management clients to earn income, paying their bills. As so on and so forth. The truth is, like in the video, I am truly grateful and “I DO love my job!”

Day 37: Day One of My New “COVID-19 Battle Plan”

Moral of this story:  EVERYTIME you smugly think to yourself, “I got this!” THIS, GETS YOU!  

Before I begin, I want to say two HUGE THANK YOU’s:

  • To Pinellas County Sheriff Todd Brien, who was kind enough to drive my husband home, despite the blood – You Saved his life! Thank you. He never could have walked home. And as he had a heart attack shortly thereafter, I know he never would have made the 1/2 mile walk back home that morning. You are our hero!
  • To the Staff of St. Anthony’s Hospital in Downtown St. Petersburg, which is more than just a beautiful spot! Downtown St. Petersburg is also a hub of incredible medical facilities and practitioners, to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.

fIRST reSPONDERS FRONTLINE WORKERSThank you! 

On April 13th, (which would have been Day 23 of my battle plan), I began the day full of vim and vigor and a concerted desire to get EVERYTHING back on track. I finished my morning Zoom “huddle” with my Team, during which time I presented my COVID-19 Battle Plan Challenge:

  • Continuously
  • Operating
  • Very
  • Intentionally
  • Daily for
  • 19 Days!

Feeling quite pleased with myself and my team’s reaction, I went through the thought process that turned this around for me. Because while this is FOR SURE, a dreadful time, it is also an opportunity to change, focus and plan. Things are going to be different. Some things will be negative, some will be positive. For example:

EXAMPLES OF BENEFITS OF THIS PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL INTROSPECTION:

  • I cut the fat from many unnecessary expenditures that have lightened my bank account and drained resources that I could very well use right now. (Frankly, I am ashamed at how uncontrolled some of my spending had been!)
  • I am focusing on core business growth activities and redefining my 2020 Business Plan.
  • I am spending quality time with my husband, once again working from home.

WHAT MY COVID-19 BATTLE PLAN LOOKED LIKE ON THE MORNING OF DAY 23, Monday 4/13:

  • I time blocked my day and had recorded in 30 minute intervals what I was doing.
  • I signed up for webinars that included education that I have been meaning to do.
  • I made a pledge to myself via the webinars to learn how to use FREE technology from my marvellous franchise, NextHome.
  • By 10am, I had a $300,000 closing on a listing. (Of course, it was in absentia. But the check was in the mail!)
  • With terms verbally agreed, I wrote a listing agreement.
  • I started going through emails and completing office work when….

My husband returned from his bike ride, bloodied and injured. An SUV pulling a trailer failed to heed the red light and hit him on the crosswalk. He was banged up and bloody. He was experiencing chest pain. He was reluctant to go to the hospital because of COVID-19.  We went. (I am a force of nature when required.) In addition to the multitude of other injuries, he had a ‘mild’ heart attack. I am so glad that we went to the hospital. Yes, COVID-19 is there; but, the staff are doing their level best to separate those poor individuals from the general population of patients hitting the ER for the normal things that happen.

I tell you this because  EVERYTIME you smugly think to yourself, “I got this!” THIS, seems to GET YOU!  

However, we live to fight another day. And today, twenty days from my last blog post, I have done my best to to get back on track; to be intentional. THIS is Day One of my Continuously Operating Very Intentionally Daily for 19 Days!

Thank you again to the First Responders, Medical Professionals and Frontline Workers, (lest we forget people such as our devoted Publix staff.) Thank you for all you do in the face of the adversity we are experiencing. My days are easy next to yours. My challenges are not life threatening. My sacrifices are inconsequential. Thanks and blessings to you all.

Sexy_Tour

Day 17 of COVID-19 Battle Plan

I have been researching and watching with admiration and amusement the different ways agents are working to get attention for their listings. Honestly, I really don’t know what the hell I have been doing with my life… These people are so cool, I can’t hardly stand it! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

# 3 Favorite: Because I love this song AND Wish I could dance like this!

 

#2: I don’t need to tell you why!

 

#1 – Who doesn’t love JT!!!! And this one, like the one before, really shows off…. the house as well as the moves!!!! And I give his cannonball a solid 8.5! Honestly, I feel certain I would love to meet and party with this guy! Chris Glapa, if you ever come to Florida, there is a home for you at NextHome Beach Time Realty!

 

 

My team and I are also showing and selling! We are armed with Lysol or Clorox wipes, booties, hand sanitizer and a mask. We drive separately and stay well back from one another.  In addition, we require that anyone we show complete a form attesting that they have not traveled in the last 14 days, are asymptomatic, etc. Here is a copy of the form: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3xdby898q2vql3y/COVID-19%20Screening.pdf?dl=0  Please feel free to adopt it for yourself. I was not the originator. Another dear Realtor friend sent it to me, suggesting we use it to protect ourselves and our clients. As the Realtor, we also sign the form and provide it to our Buyers FIRST, just to let them know that we are equally as concerned with their safety and health as we are for our own! So far, 100% of the people we have asked have signed and thanked us for our diligence.

I have been wracking my brain to come up with novel ideas to attract attention to my listings. We have several things in the works… Stay Tuned!  It does not involve me dancing. But… I do have some talented friends. And we all ‘Get By With a Little Help from Our Friends!’ I am glad to say, that HOPEFULLY today or tomorrow we will have one of our listings under contract and a new property coming to market this week! In the last week, we have had two accepted offers and written two others. Not exactly a BOOMING first week in April; but, not too shabby considering!

#BeSafe #BeSmart #BeKind #HUMANSOVERHOUSES

Asbestos

Day 15 COVID-19 Battle Plan

Dear Friends,

Real Estate Services are regarded as being essential. I have not personally heard any grumblings about this. However, I have heard of other Realtors getting flack. I think that this is primarily due to a lack of understanding and thought. The people that are selling their homes, typically have a VERY good reason. They don’t usually wake up and on a whim say, “You know what? Let’s just sell this house!” Buying a house can be a more whimsical notion. But, not many people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim. (Regrettably! ;o) On the other hand, let’s face it, some people DO wake up and say, let’s look at some houses today! If you are messing around on Zillow and asking to see houses right now with no intention of purchasing, shame on you! Inherently there is a risk in our job when showing property to strangers. However right now EVERY TIME we leave the house to take someone out, we are taking a chance! Indeed in my office, we have Buyers sign a disclaimer that they are asymptomatic and that they have not travelled in the last two weeks. It is a scary time! But, we are still serving our clients.

In addition to putting food on our tables, WHY we still show houses right now is very eloquently expressed in these excerpts from a post that a friend sent me this week:

“A message to my NON REALTOR friends:

Based on what you see on TV, you may believe Realtors are concerned because they can’t sell homes or hold open houses. The Federal Government labeled residential real estate “essential” last week, & let me explain why…. it’s not about “sales”. In reality, our government & the real estate industry are much more concerned about people with these sorts of challenges:

The 80-year-old couple who just moved into a small condo to cut expenses and put their 4-bedroom colonial up for sale. They lost most of their life savings this month in the stock market crash. They must now sell their previous house immediately because they need the proceeds of that sale to sustain them financially.

A couple with an infant daughter who has special long-term medical needs. They must move closer to the hospital that specializes in the type of procedure required to heal their little one. They need to move now.

A woman and her two small kids who has been in an abusive relationship and finally had the courage to say enough is enough! Her priority is to get her kids to a safe home, she needs to move now.

TV concentrates on the glitz & glamour of our profession. In reality, Realtors serve many people through some extraordinarily difficult times. Death, divorce, sickness, job loss-an endless list.

–            Credit is given to an unknown, but much appreciated author!

I am glad to say that I have not experienced all of the above in my career. But, I have helped divorced/divorcing couples sell the marital home, where one party is sheltering elsewhere and struggling to make ends meet. I have helped others, for example, with a spouse suffering from dementia/Alzheimers who are needing a more controlled environment. I have assisted many during times of financial difficulty where a sale was an absolute necessity, sometimes due to medical bills, sometimes stock market losses…. 2007/8 and beyond was one sad story after the other. Happily, MOST of my job occurs within a happy forum where we are making dreams come true, and not helping people through nightmares.

To all my Realtor pals out there, I have a great form that a friend shared with me to help protect you and discourage ‘lookey-loos.’ I would be delighted to email you a copy. Just leave a message on the blog page. In the meantime:

#BeSafe #BeSmart #BeKind #HUMANSOVERHOUSES

 

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Day 14 of COVID-19 Battle Plan

Wondering about the SBA Loans, like the EIDL or PPP? Me too!

If you are like me and anxious to apply for your Payroll Protection Program Loan from the Small Business Administration, below are some links that the National Association of Realtors sent us. I am still confused by some aspects of this and have an email into my CPA for guidance. I use Fifth Third as my bank and they, like many others, are not yet ready to accept applications. I am worried that the money will dry up before I get my application in. This loan means that I will be able to restore my employees back to full employment. That is a HUGE deal for me and them! Below are links for more information that I hope you will find helpful. The guides are applicable to any independent contractor or small business.

If like the guy above, working in your home office is driving you B-O-N-K-E-R-S, here are some Working at Home Tips from a ADHD Queen. AND, IF it works for me, IT WILL work for Anyone! 

So if you are like me, you will be filling in the applications for these programs from your home office.

I am accustomed to working from home and have done so for many years. I do not find it a hardship. Although, I do miss terribly the interaction with my co-workers. Here are my best practices to happily working at home:

  1. Time block! I do it in 1/2 hour intervals.  Alexa reminds me when that block is over. I also keep track of what I actually did versus what I was scheduled to do.
  2. PRIORITIZE: For me, money-making actions have never been so important. I have people depending upon me for wages and no vacation rental income coming in! Do your ‘MUST DO’ items first.
  3. Do not graze all day! Just because the fridge is there is no reason to open the door and stare temptation in the face. This is vital to me, as I hate myself when I overeat!
  4. Reward yourself with breaks at defined times. Then, it is ok to open the fridge. I, for example, have a planned coffee and lo-carb cookie break every afternoon.
  5. Pick a quiet space. If you are lucky enough to have a designated spot, terrific. If not, you will have to make the other household members respect your need to work.
  6. Make sure you have a comfortable work space, or you may wind up like this poor sod in the video above!
  7. And if you are responsible for homeschooling your kiddos and working at home, I just want to say “Thank You”, “Bless You,” and if you need someone to do a liquor run for you, I hear Norman’s will deliver!   

#BeSafe #BeSmart #BeKind #HUMANSOVERHOUSES