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Finding Relevancy During Times of Crisis

As a broker operating in one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the country, I’m now applying lessons on quickly and creatively meeting clients’ needs in a new way.

April 16, 2020

As we all try to navigate a very different reality as real estate professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s good to revisit the basics and identify ways to move forward in the face of uncertainty.

I happen to work in one of the fastest-growing markets in the United States. My town of Bend, Ore., ranked third in a national Business Insider story about the 25 fastest growing cities in America—an average of nine people move here per day. To be successful as a real estate pro in this market, many of us have learned to think quickly and be creative in order to meet clients’ needs. Now those skills are more important than ever.

Here are lessons and insights from a booming market that can be applied any time, including during times of crisis.

Pay Attention to Regulatory and Infrastructure Issues

In Oregon, we have strict land-use laws that confine growth to specific areas, called the Urban Growth Boundary. Meant to minimize sprawl and conserve natural and agricultural resources, it drastically affects the way our towns grow. With minimal land inside the UGB, prices are driven up and options for clients are somewhat limited. In addition, infrastructure, such as roads, sewers, and water systems, was developed with a much smaller capacity in mind. When your population nearly doubles in 20 years, it can be hard to keep up.

I encourage you to pay close attention to regulatory and growth issues in your area, and educate yourself on how restrictions, land use laws, and infrastructure challenges might play out in the real estate future of your town. Here, it’s about striking a deft balance between preserving the lifestyle and environment we love while welcoming new residents to our community.

If you can stay one step ahead in your own community, you can better understand what your clients, both buyers and sellers, might be facing in the future. Right now, the uncertainty surrounding the economy and real estate market on a global level is very real. Stay on top of the latest trends, like help for home buyers and mortgage industry news, so you can be a resource to your clients during these tough times.

Get Creative in Meeting Client Needs

In a market like this, choices can end up being slim for potential home buyers. For example, here in Bend, many buyers want a west side home within walking distance of our craft breweries, popular amenities, and well-known trail systems, and adjacent to the road up to the ski resort. We’ve seen this kind of demand drive up prices in neighborhoods that fit these criteria, such as NorthWest Crossing, which generally sells at prices that are 40% higher than the rest of the city. Now nearly sold out, its new sister neighborhood, called Discovery West, is just starting to get underway and I anticipate its trajectory will be similar. It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on new developments like this in your area and to stay ahead of the curve, so you can serve as a resource for your clients.

Even as new inventory becomes available, the bottom line is that not everyone is going to be able to find that home in the area that they want that also fits their budget or other lifestyle needs. This is when your skills as a real estate professional are put to the test and you must get creative for your clients. I find that the most successful approach is bringing to life the story of a neighborhood that might not have been on your client’s radar. Giving them a deep understanding of what it would be like to actually live there, and show them the amenities that are close by—the schools, parks, and trails that they may not have known existed. Your knowledge and expertise can help them make a decision that will bring them happiness in the long run, even if it wasn’t something they were previously considering.

Watch Yourself for Signs of Burnout

As a real estate pro, you may realize there is no “work-life balance” in the traditional sense of the phrase. You have to take the opportunities to work when they come, and in a hot market, these opportunities may be coming at you fast, even nonstop. In this kind of environment, whether it is market-driven or simply due to your good marketing and reputation, it’s very important to take time for yourself.

Take planned time off. Put your device down a couple of hours earlier each evening and be mindful of how you are spending your time. If you are trying to grow your business, you can’t leave your phone unattended. Think about teaming up with a partner and come up with a trade-off schedule so you both can have that much needed time to reset and refresh. Your clients, and your family, will thank you for it in the end, as you can be more present with them when they need you the most.

There’s a lot of talk lately about self-care as many of us shelter in place and drastically change our daily lives. Some brokers and agents may be shifting to virtual tours and more digital ways of doing business that don’t come naturally. Give yourself some slack and do what you can to accommodate a new way of doing business while staying safe and keeping your clients safe. Also, know that this won’t last forever.

A growth market can be thrilling and lucrative. A crisis situation can be scary and unpredictable. We are all facing new challenges and, hopefully, uncovering new opportunities. No matter where you are in your career, there are still universal lessons you can learn: Educate yourself about what’s going on in your community; be a creative resource for your clients; and create balance for yourself. Even if my hometown drops off the fastest-growing list, I’ll keep the valuable skills I’ve learned from working in this exciting market. I continue to apply these skills on a daily basis while I find new ways to serve clients during our local “stay home, stay safe” initiatives, and you can too.


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Shelley Griffin

Shelley Griffin, ABR, GREEN, is the co-owner and broker of Bend, Oregon-based Harcourts The Garner Group. She is a top producing agent in one of the nation's fastest-growing markets and is an award-winning producer among agents in companies sharing the Harcourts USA franchise. She is an active member of her community and volunteers for many local organizations. Shelley is also an Earth Advantage Broker. Learn more: thegarnergroup.com.

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