We mortals have been working for a long time.  Long before we became humans or even mammals. It is many a wise person’s belief that, right up there with food, water, clothing, shelter, and air, is work!  Earning a little coin forges pride and achievement, allows us to take care of ourselves and others, and provides much needed social contact – albeit, these days, virtually.  Suffice to say, weeks before we were permitted to, my colleagues and I were in a lather, chomping at the bit to get back to one of the essentials of real estate life – showing property. On June 22nd, Phase 2 began and with it, real estate agents in NYC were permitted to work again. 

For me, Phase 2 felt more like crossing to Staten Island on a raft than driving over the Verrazano. I had strategized and planned for weeks so that I could hit the ground running. When the time came to finally bring strangers into my client’s homes, theory collided with practice harder than Foreman ever hit Ali.  Here are just a few observations of how the sausage is made during COVID.


Everyone is nice.  Really nice. One Sunday, I conducted ten separate half-hour showings of the same apartment.  Not a person complained about the mask, the shoes off, the hand sanitizer, the no touching, – the annoying inconvenience of it all. Admittedly, I was at my most charming and apologetic, but my experience with buyers since June 22nd is only positive. 

BTW, that night, at 8pm, after ten separate charming showings, I went right to bed!


We are working a lot more for a lot less. The ten, half-hour showings could have been squeezed into a single one hour open house pre-COVID. As alluded to above, each showing requires said agent to be the toucher and the opener. This leads to a lot more showing, a lot more talking, a lot more joke making, etc. Yes! I know! I’m whining but I haven’t even mentioned the four, two-page disclosures that have to be reviewed and executed via DocuSign for each showing!


It’s easier to spot the real buyers. In my business, we call a “real buyer,” someone who is ready to move forward immediately. This usually means that they have a knowledgeable buyer’s broker, know what they want, know their price point, have retained an attorney, are pre-approved for a mortgage or paying all cash, and know when they want to close. These attributes are the attributes of our dream buyer.  75% to 90% of the buyers I have encountered during COVID fall into this category.  In the epoch of pre-COVID, said buyer showed up only 10% to 25% of the time (fodder for another post, but if a listing is overpriced, the percentage drops to near 0%).  So yes, if you surmised that in this aspect of my work, I am working less – you are correct!


Presentation is paramount.  Photos and staging have always been important, but now that consumers have more time on their hands, they are looking more closely at property photos and videos.  As a result, solely because they liked the way we present our listings online, we have had a number of clients hire us without ever meeting me in person. Thank you Melanie, Orik, and Compass Concierge, we couldn’t have done it without you.  And, of course, the Virtual Tour technology is the bomb.  Everyone asks for it!  It also substantially increases web hits and property saves.    


Postscript thoughts:

  • People are more or less adapting and we may never go back to the “old way.”   
  • No one sells a property because they sent out an email blast to 10,000 agents or because they sent postcards to 1,000 homes in the neighborhood. They are a waste of time and money. There! I said it!
  • My Goodness! The NY Times Real Estate search aggregator is awful!
  • I love working from home.  

Author: Jim Winters

Hi! I love feedback and helping, so please chime in. I'll always respond to comments, emails, and shouts in my direction on the 3 train 😊. I am, among other things, a passionate Brooklynite, a family man, and a (semi-) retired real estate broker.

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