Real Estate

Returns, Resignations, Recruiting: What Real Estate Teams Are Facing

This June, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — we’re going to go deep on what it takes to grow your team amid this intense seller’s market. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.

June 15 marked the day California went back to business as usual — it was pretty much a nonevent. After I remembered where my sock drawer was, I ventured out and, while I managed to see a few brave souls going maskless in local stores, everyone else was still in ninja mode — mostly likely afraid of being the odd man out.

With restaurants advertising that they are back in full swing and performance venues opening up once again, could everything just return to the way it was? And what would be the effect on real estate, especially for real estate teams? The answer, I’m finding, is: “Not so fast …”

The irony is that of all of the service industries out there, real estate was not really affected by the pandemic. Yes, we had to set viewing appointments, wear masks, lather up with disinfectant and remain a respectful distance apart, but in spite of things, it was business as usual.

In fact, some of the restrictions made the business easier. We were able to track visits through homes, had a much higher level of communication with buyer’s agents and discovered we could do the vast majority of our job from our home offices.

So, now that the barriers are being lifted, open houses are happening once again and appointments are no longer necessary to view most homes, what now? Here are the top five trends we are seeing in the short term:

1. Team members are reticent about returning to the office

Having worked effectively from home for the past 15 months or so, many team members have become accustomed to having things their way.

They have been able to avoid commutes, juggle childcare responsibilities, work in their “comfort clothes,” and save considerable time and money they would have spent on travel and clothes. They have been able to adjust schedules around their family and work off hours as necessary to get things done.

Yes, it has been frustrating for team leaders to have team members dealing with kids rather than being available when needed. Yes, Zoom is just not the same as collaborating in person. Overall, however, everyone has managed to make it work, and now that we are cleared to return, we are seeing pushback at getting everyone back in the office.

2. Teams are rethinking office spaces

Having discovered that a good deal of expensive office space may actually be unnecessary, teams are rethinking how they can pare back their physical footprint.

There is no question that in-person work has significant benefits. There is also the reality that highly skilled administrative help is available either full time or part time so long as they are allowed to work from home to be with their children.

While administrative areas are unlikely to change significantly, individual cubbies or offices for team agents might be on the chopping block as less expensive collaborative spaces become the norm.

3. Teams are dealing with The Great Resignation

Coined by Anthony Klotz, a Texas A&M University professor during a Bloomberg Businessweek interview, the phrase “The Great Resignation” refers to the pent-up dissatisfaction many employees have endured through the pandemic as they have stayed with current jobs rather than look for more appealing opportunities.

Now that things are opening up again, it’s projected that we will see a significant wave of resignations and corporate reshuffling. This is echoed by The Wall Street Journal, which stated in a June 13, 2021 article that the number of employees quitting their jobs is at a two-decade high.

Rather than return to the office, many employees are looking for better paying opportunities more in line with their skillset and values. Some are leaving the corporate world altogether as COVID-19 has reshaped their priorities and desires. This is also happening in real estate teams as agents are looking around to find better deals elsewhere.

At the point in time where companies (and real estate teams) were hoping to capitalize on the new freedoms and relaunch in earnest, they are forced to deal with waves of resignations, setting them back on their heels.

4. Team recruiting has become more difficult

As a result of the current corporate reshuffling, recruitment is awash with emerging challenges. Employers, eager to gain traction in the reopening market, are upping the ante to gain new employees, and consequently offering higher salaries and benefits.

Employees, sensing they may have the upper hand, are out looking for better opportunities and raising the bar on their expectations. We are seeing this trend in the real estate sector as well as agents have recently began shifting en masse to what they feel are better opportunities.

Not only are teams across the country seeing key members evacuate, we are also seeing entire teams jump ship and align with different brokerages. Teams will need to reevaluate how they recruit if they want to build amidst the current environment.

5. Clients are asking to meet in person

Whereas the mandatory guidelines opened the door to Zoom meetings and distance interactions, now that the barriers are coming down, clients are making it very clear they want to do real estate in person. Crowds are flocking to open houses, buyer tours are in full swing, and clients are requesting to meet in person instead of enduring Zoom consultations.

Teams who had hoped that Zoom would have permanently streamlined some client interactions may be disappointed. It appears people like being together and are jumping at the opportunity to reengage in social contexts once again.

It is a new world for sure, and like any new environment, it appears to be coming with a few surprises. In the short term, it appears that real estate teams will have their hands full learning how to navigate these new waters.  

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.

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