Commercial real estate is a contact sport requiring face-to-face, arm-in-arm, hand-to-hand interaction.
Or does it?
On March 16th, we made the decision to allow one of our employees to telecommute. She was in the high-risk category for a COVID-19 infection. The next day we sent our staff of five to work remotely. All agents were encouraged to engage off-site as well.
This was three days before our governor’s executive shelter-in-place order took effect March 20.
Full disclosure: I prefer to toll my craft while mobile and have worked since 2014 to replace any legacy desktop program in favor of those I can access from anywhere — the driver’s seat of my car, a coffee shop, the front porch of my house or a client’s lobby.
Those mobile platforms include CoStar Go, Reonomy, ClientLook, Dropbox, Zoom, and Mailchimp.
However, woven into the fabric of my vocation is a steady stream of client meetings, prospect discovery discussions, building tours, group conferences, networking events, lunches, coffees and the like. With a full stop on any physical contact, lest we endanger the weaker among us, what follows is what I’ve learned from sheltering in place.
Meetings can still occur
How many people just four short weeks ago had never heard of Zoom let alone used it. I’ve been a Zoom user for several years, but I’ve become quite proficient in requesting, scheduling, hosting, and recording individual and group meetings. Maybe not quite as effective as in-person but very close.
Building tours are challenging
Probably the biggest obstacle to the stay-at-home order has been touring available properties. A combination of FaceTime, virtual tours, and yes, Zoom, are the workarounds.
Working remotely is more efficient. Roll out and get to work — simple! No driving allowance or delays. Just pure work time.
Less on dry cleaning
Who cares if you wear the same shirt twice or more? No starch, please. I’ve not shimmied into a suit in weeks. I’m a bit nervous about the COVID-19 – not the virus but the 19 pounds!
No traffic: I’ve not sat in traffic for weeks. Brilliant! Plus, I’ve not been late. In the absence of driving to appointments every day, I’ve found two or three hours not claimed before.
Deals are happening: Especially essential ones – tax deferred exchanges, lease renewals, and marketing vacancies.
Folks are talking about “what’s next.” What’s next will be the subject of next week’s column.
Stay well, dear readers. That light you see is, in fact, the end of a tunnel not an oncoming train.
Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 714.564.7104. His website is allencbuchanan.blogspot.com.