Rebuilding From the Storm

When a derecho packing 140 mph winds slammed into Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in August 2020, toppling power lines and battering homes, REALTOR® Raymond Siddell was ready to act. The derecho—a violent, high-velocity windstorm often referred to as a hurricane on land—killed four people and damaged thousands of homes in the city. Nearly all of Cedar Rapids, a town of more than 133,000 people, lost power. Within 24 hours of the disaster, Siddell, a sales associate with Keller Williams Legacy Group, created a Facebook page where people could request or donate basic items like food, water, and medicine. In its first three days, the Facebook group swelled to 21,200 members. Ultimately, that figure rose to 70,000.

Click here to read the full story.

If You Build It…

In a normal year, Grant Johnson, a real estate agent at RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minn., divides his time equally between selling existing homes and developing land for new- home construction. But the pandemic has flipped Johnson’s business on its head.

“Listings have been very difficult to come by,” says Johnson. As a result, he decided to scale up his land development work. “Typically, the builder that I work with and I put together 20 to 30 lots a year,” he says. “This year we’re going to be developing 70 lots.” In addition to procuring the land, Johnson will represent the builder as a listing agent. “Creating our own inventory has helped us survive the pandemic,” he says.

Diversifying business streams amid a period of record-low inventory has been a productive move for Johnson and many real estate agents and brokers this year. National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says, “2021 is likely to have the most acute shortage of homes for sale in history.”

Click here to read the full story.

A Leap of Faith: How Real Estate Rookies Make it Work

Wendy Wright of Washington, D.C., was ready to take her real estate license exam last March—just as the term “novel coronavirus” was becoming part of the national conversation. After a 20-year career in IT project management, she had recently lost her job at a nonprofit because of funding cuts. Real estate offered an enticing new career path.

But the onset of the pandemic one year ago forced real estate testing centers in her area to close temporarily, requiring Wright to wait two months before she could sit for the test. Instead of just biding her time, Wright joined Katie Wethman’s real estate team at Keller Williams in Washington and began shadowing agents on socially distanced appointments with buyers and sellers. When Wright passed the exam and received her real estate license in June, she was able to hit the ground running at a time when the pandemic was turning many business practices upside down. The result: She closed 10 sales in six months.

Click here to read the full story.

Presale Renovations Take Off

A couple in Cambridge, Mass., were looking to sell a two-bedroom condo. The property had been rented out to three college students and needed work if the sellers were going to get top dollar for it, says Carol Kelly, a Compass real estate agent based in Cambridge.

“[The couple] didn’t want to reach into their own pocket to pay for the renovations,” Kelly says. “They didn’t want the stress of investing their own money into the property.”

So Kelly recommended Compass Concierge, a service the brokerage rolled out in 2018 to pay for presale renovations. Sellers pay back the money using the proceeds of their sale. Compass put $17,000 worth of improvements into the Cambridge condo, installing new flooring, painting the kitchen cabinets, and power-washing the house. It paid off: The condo, which was listed at $589,000, sold for $640,000, enabling the sellers to repay Compass and eke out bigger gains from their investment.

Click here to read the full story.