The notion of resiliency has been tossed around a lot, particularly in light of the challenges that most entrepreneurs and businesses have experienced as a result of the pandemic. The word is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or toughness, but I like to think of it as an individual or business owner’s ability to weather a storm.
Without question, the pandemic brought with it a vast array of implications for the business community. As many REALTORS® are also sole proprietors/business owners, the necessity of adapting to changing market dynamics is an essential characteristic, not only for success but survival.
Unlike many other businesses such as in the retail and hospitality sectors, which were forced to deal with a significant downturn in demand and foot traffic, along with a shortage in the labor force and/or labor market participation, the real estate market surged to unprecedented heights.
As the desire to leave major cities grew, rates remained low and many buyers searched for larger homes, most REALTORS® struggled to keep up with the demand. The use of advanced technology to serve and support buyers and sellers became even more of a differentiator, as showing homes over Facetime and electronic signatures gained prevalence.
If nothing else, these two factors alone have the potential to reduce the environmental impact of the industry as a whole. And make no mistake, if any of us are going to survive, we are going to have to be resilient in the face of climate change and flexible about the way we do business, to reduce ecological impacts and hopefully keep things from getting worse.
This dovetails into the topic of hurricane preparation and disaster response. Of course, any article on resilience published in a coastal area would be remiss without mentioning how business owners and individuals can plan and prepare. Although many experts now expect the season to be less busy than previous predictions, it only takes one storm to make it a bad year.
A good resource for disaster preparations may be found at the US Chamber Foundation’s Resilience in a Box program, which is available at www.USChamberFoundation.org/ResilienceBox. Additionally, New Hanover County posts emergency information at www.emergency.nhcgov.com, complete with how to make a plan, what to put in your survival kit, and other resources. As always, it is a good idea to check local government website for more information and resources.
Getting back to real estate, if we are to shore up the industry and ensure that it is resilient moving forward, there are two key topics we need to focus on: repurposing obsolete buildings for new uses and creating more options for affordable housing. This will help establish a new vision for real estate in our communities and if the pandemic had any lesson to teach, it is that adaptability and flexibility are essential for businesses dealing with a crisis.
It’s also worth pointing out that, as the Fed has manipulated interest rates with the stated goal of cooling the housing market, many REALTORS® have used the small breath of downtime to refine their systems and work on their marketing content, such as the Bios on their websites. Some have even taken much-needed vacations! This is not to say that the demand for housing has abated; only that many have welcomed the stabilization of the previously frenetic market. And, even though rates have increased, they are still at a historically low level, especially for those of who remember the 1980s, when rates were around 18 percent. For more guidance on resiliency and how it applies to real estate and the broader economy, visit CapeFear.REALTOR or call 910-762-7400.
Ea Ruth is the 2022 president of Cape Fear REALTORS®, an organization with nearly 3,500 members who serve as the region’s Voice of Real Estate. Cape Fear REALTORS®, through advocacy, education, and community involvement, support efforts to protect the rights of property owners, promote the availability of housing, and provide resources to guarantee every individual has the right to share in the “American Dream.” For further information on this topic and the association, please visit www.capefear.realtor or contact the Cape Fear REALTORS® at 910-762-7400.
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