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Three Years Ago, Our Entire World Changed

Three years ago on Saturday, March 21, 2020, I was running some errands late in the afternoon. I’d forgotten and left my phone in the car and when I got back into the vehicle, I looked down and noticed I had more than 20 voicemails and text messages on my phone! Most of the voicemails were from my team members, but there were several texts from clients as well. Our entire world (literally) was about to change!

As I listened to the voicemails, I could hear the sheer panic in my agent’s voices, begging me to call them back immediately. They mentioned Mayor Lucas shutting the city down because of something called, “Covid-19”. Kevin was the first one I called back and he sounded out of breath. “Have you seen the news? The mayor is shutting everything down” he said. I said, “Kevin, I’m confused about what’s happening. You’re the first one I called back and I have 20 other voicemails. Just slow down and tell me what’s going on.”

Kevin explained that this virus called Covid has been spreading like crazy and it’s to the point where they’re saying it’s a pandemic! Schools were going to be closed, banks were not going to open, government offices were shut down, and Mayor Lucas was even suggesting that people stay home and not go out of the house for any reason other than medical emergencies. It was nuts, and then I realized why Kevin was so upset. He reminded me that we currently had 18 homes under contract and if the banks, title companies, and lenders were going to close their doors, we can’t get all those home sales closed in the next 30 days. Now I was beginning to freak out too! I told him, “Kevin, I have a lot of other people to call back. Do me a favor. Call all your clients and assure them we will figure this out and get their home sales closed.”

That whole weekend I stayed glued to the news channels as more and more information came out. Not only Kansas City was being shut down, but virtually every major metropolitan city in the United States was following that same plan. It was sheer panic and people were talking about it on every form of social media as well. There was so much misinformation I didn’t know what to believe.

I was getting news on Facebook and some emails from our broker who was assuring us they were in direct communication with Mayor Lucas’ office. At that time, we were right at the beginning of the Spring selling market and there were currently over 3,000 homes under contract in the greater Kansas City area. If the mayor was asking people to stay at home, then these people needed homes to actually stay in.

Fortunately, by early Tuesday morning, The Kansas City Realtors Association leadership had convinced Mayor Lucas to designate real estate and all real estate related businesses to stay open and continue doing business as it was vital to the economy and safety of their citizens. That was certainly a relief, but by then pretty much every single seller that had their home on the market wanted to pull it off the MLS and wait to see what happened next.

Virtually overnight, around 2,500 homes came off the market that week! Luckily, none of the 18 clients my team was working with were overly panicked by this and decided to keep moving forward with their home sales and/or purchases. That was certainly a good thing for my real estate team too because pretty much all new business had come to a screeching halt after the mayor’s announcement.

The next two months would be incredibly weird as RealtorsĀ® tried to figure out how to continue doing business with the concerns over Covid-19. More than half the licensed agents chose not to continue working during this time, the other half like me were scrambling to help as many people as we could, but sometimes it felt like the ground was shifting under our feet!

We no longer met in person with clients but talked on the phone or held Zoom calls. When we did meet in person, we wore masks and we didn’t shake hands. We saw an explosion in listing agents using video and services like Matterport (3-D tours) which enabled potential buyers to stay in their home/apartment and still tour homes online. We found that by using these services, some buyers were willing to write an offer without having actually visited the home in person. It was not at all uncommon for the buyers to first visit the home during the home inspection period and we hoped and prayed they still loved it in person. And afterward, the sellers would have to sterilize all countertops, door knobs, and any surfaces the buyers or their home inspector touched. It was exhausting!

On top of all this, there were actually quite a few buyers that still wanted to buy a home, yet there were almost no available homes to choose from. The ones that were on the market at that time, would sometimes get more than ten to fifteen offers, most of them way over the sellers asking price too! That trend would continue throughout the rest of 2020 and clear through 2021 and finally stop in May 2022.

Today, three years later it seems like a dream (or nightmare depending on your viewpoint), but the world of real estate did not come to an end. We just had to do things differently and figure it out.

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