Coronavirus and Real Estate – The Real Talk

(Posted on March 14, 2020)

Let’s talk about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

… and how it may affect real estate

… and your business.

Before I begin, let me just say that I am NOT a medical professional or expert on infectious diseases.  This email is my OPINION only. I could be right or wrong or somewhere in between. So take my comments, do your own research, and come to your own conclusions.

First, my advice.

For this discussion, put your EMOTION on hold … and use your LOGIC.

As Mike Ferry said to me a few days ago on this topic:  “Everyone needs to stay calm.”

Get curious.  Look for solutions.

Let’s dig in.

The Problem.

The COVID-19 panic is real.  The disease is spreading rapidly and is highly contagious.  It’s rapidly spreading throughout the world and is making it’s way into our communities.  It does not care about the color of your skin, your gender, your age, your political views, or your real estate knowledge (a little humor).  It’s just looking for hosts … human beings.

The disease can be deadly.  The mortality rate has been estimated from 1% to 3% of those that get infected (based on what I am hearing).  Most people, 97% to 99% will walk away from this.  Those are good odds.

Many in our community are at higher risk than others.  The elderly and those with other healthy issues (like respiratory issues, heart disease, diabities).  Do what you can to keep them from getting infected (i.e. bring them supplies so they can avoid crowds at stores, and if you feel ill, stay away from them).

Most importantly, let the medical personnel and the scientist do their job.  They are struggling with this challenge and need us to help by listening and following their guidelines.

We are in this together.

We will solve it together.

Communities across the country are working on solutions. Our leaders have never had to deal with this before. But they are looking for answers.

Schools are closing and going to online environments.  Why?  Slow down the spread.  Makes sense.

Sporting events, concerts, and public gatherings are being postponed or canceled.  This makes sense too.

Grocery stores are running low on items, but refilling fast.  Stores in my area are working hard to re-stock the shelves and keep the public calm.  Smile and thank them.

We need to be positive.

We need to make it through this together.

And we will.

Volunteer Quarantines at home are happening everywhere.  This is frustrating (especially for independent strong willed people – like real estate agents), but necessary if we want to slow this thing down BEFORE it over takes us (see Italy, Iran, South Korea).

Most of these school closures, work at home programs, and quarantines have limited duration … 3 to 6 weeks.  Keep this in mind.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  It will NOT last forever.  This too shall pass.

People will be isolated … and scared.

Be the calming force … not the amplifier.

Ready for the BIG ONE?

Real estate transactions will grind to a halt.

Your title company, lender, inspector, and other service providers … will be home.

Before you jump off a building, remember, this will be temporary.

So what should you do?

The Solution.

I believe you need to focus on 3 things:

– You
– Your family
– Your finances
– Your business

In that order.

Preparing Your Mind.

First, stay calm.

You are no good to the people who count on you if you are erratic.

Second, use your LOGIC … and keep your EMOTION in check.

You need to walk through the logical options, resist hysteria, and look for solutions.

Third, focus on helping others.  For some reason, helping others calms human beings and allows us to think clearly.

Finally, search for opportunity and do not be opportunistic.

What do I mean?

When you search for opportunity in a challenge, you are looking for solutions that are good for you … AND those around out.  Win-Win.

When you are opportunistic, you look for solutions that help you … and hurt others.  Like buying all the toilet paper in the store for five dollars a pack and selling to your neighbor for fifty.  Sure you made a small profit, but you caused the problem by hording resources.

Look to help yourself … and others.

People will remember when everything settles down … respect you … tell their friends about you … and yes … want to do business with you.

Take Care of Your Family.

Once you have your head on straight, focus on your kids, spouse, and parents.  They need you to be a “rock” and find solutions.

Talk to the important people in your life.  Tell them you don’t have all the answers (nobody does), but that you are looking for answers.

Also assure them that you will survive this … together.

Ask for their advice … and listen to their ideas.  Odds are they have insight you don’t.

Once the family is on the same page, make a plan.

Start with the basic needs:  water, food, clothes, and shelter.

Today the big one is food.

Go the the Grocery Store NOW … and stock up on shelf stable food.

My advice, get enough to last 30 days.

That might be too much … or too little … we don’t know.  But it is a reasonable start.

When at the store, stay calm and smile at everyone.  You are all in the same boat.

And remember.  When this all blows over … these same people will want to do business with you … or avoid you.

Courtesy, politeness, and a smile go a long way.

Look at Your Finances.

Here is the stark reality:  you might not get paid for a month or longer.

As an agent, it’s highly likely that you’ve dealt with this challenge before.  Flash back in your mind for how you solved it in the past.

Make a list of your “Quick Cash” options:  cash, savings, credit cards, lines of credit, and people who can help (parents, grandparents, siblings, friends).

Add up your resources and see if you can make it 30+ days without a commission check.

You might need to get a home loan, finance a car, or get a personal loan from family or friends.

You might need to sell something valuable (coins, stamps, tools, a car).

Look for options now … BEFORE you run out of funds.

Doing this will stop your heart initially … but when you find answers … will allow you to breath.

Look at Your Business.

After … and I do mean AFTER … you get yourself balanced, your family settled, and your money plan in place … look at your business.  Only then will you be in a mental state to make good decisions and give good advice.

First, call your vendors (lenders, title reps, inspectors, etc) and ask how their BUSINESS is handling the challenges.  Find out their policies and plans … and how it will affect your clients.

Next, call your clients.  Under contract, listed sellers, and active buyers.  Let them know that you are here for them.  You don’t have all the answers (nobody does), but you will help them through this challenge.  Now that you have put your own house in order, it’s easier to advise others.

Let your clients know that things might get dicey, but to stay calm.  You will brainstorm solutions with them.  Together we are stronger and will win.

Third, call your hot leads and prospects (90 days or less to move).  Tell them what you know (and don’t know) about the market.  Educate them about the real estate situtation (as you see it).  They want your advice.  There may be a temporary pause, but we will get back on track soon.  Stay positive … and be ready to move back into the market when the tide rolls back.

Fourth, pause your prospecting and marketing for new business.  Many will advise you to forge ahead (and that might be wise), but I think the next 2-3 weeks will be a lot of panic and stress for most Americans.  They will NOT be thinking about real estate and moving.  They’ll be thinking about basic survival first (like you did).

Instead of marketing, conserve your cash and time.  Pool your funds and use your time to keep your existing pipeline intact.

Fifth, you are going to have some down time.  Probably a LOT of down time.

Look at this as an opportunity to catch up on your education, learn new techniques, and sharpen your skills.

Remember, your market will open back up soon (yes, it will – be positive).  Be ready to jump in when your competition will still be paralyzed with fear and indecision.

If you need some real estate educational resources, check out for how to jump start your lead flow when the market opens up.

Take advantage of this market pause … educate yourself … and turn this tragedy into an opportunity.

Chin up.  Spirits up.  Be a beacon of hope.  And …

Keep moving forward.

-Mike Cerrone
Master Mind Agent LLC