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— by Nancy Chu

HOW DO REALTORS COPE WITH ANOTHER POSSIBLE COVID SHUTDOWN – BOTH IN BUSINESS & MENTAL HEALTH?

As a nation, we recognize the impact COVID has had on our front line healthcare workers – the NIH published a link to an article in GENERAL PSYCHIATRY of a study on Chinese healthcare workers in July of 2020, and the repercussions are significant: 

A cross-sectional, web-based survey was conducted in February 2020 among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic…used to explore the factors that were associated with psychological problems and the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia and…overall psychological problems in…front-line healthcare workers….Psychological problems are pervasive among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic…The psychological health of different healthcare workers should be protected during the COVID-19 pandemic with timely interventions and proper information feedback… (NCBI Article)

 

The study showed that up to over 60% of frontline healthcare workers were suffering from these psychological issues – and China is not alone – we now see the same effects on American doctors, nurses & others working in medical facilities.

Truthfully, healthcare workers are NOT the only ones suffering – retail, food & hospitality – anyone who has to interface with PEOPLE in order to do their jobs is under a constant sense of heightened anxiety, and REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS ARE NO DIFFERENT.

According to the National Association of Realtor’s 2020 Market Recovery Study, only 19% of real estate agents surveyed felt they were only “…very prepared to weather [a potential] second COVID wave…”  I have to wonder, what are they worried about “weathering” in this case?

Are they worried about the possibility of catching COVID and being able to withstand the illness? Are they worried about being able to last through a period of low market activity – can they survive in this business if there is another shut down of physical real estate practices in their market area? Are they worried that if real estate is deemed essential in their market area, will they be prepared to list and show properties in a more restrictive and potentially unsafe environment? Or are they simply worried that the effects of a shut down – the constant sense of isolation, children struggling through online school without valuable social interaction time with peers/teachers/coaches, or just the challenges of daily life in a socially distanced world – will have lasting effects on their psyches?  I mean who knew we would have such agita just trying to buy groceries at our local Whole Foods?

While we all patiently wait our turn to receive the vaccine, which for some of us could take still a few more months, take solace in some of the coping methods recommended by mental health professionals:

  1. EXERCISE – Home gyms, a walk in the park, dancing to music in front of YouTube, take our dog on a hike. As a real estate agent, might I suggest taking a video bike tour of the downtown of a town in your market area? 2 birds with 1 stone! Release the endorphins that help us simply FEEL BETTER!
  2. REDIRECT YOUR FOCUS towards positive things, such as gratitude for what is good in your life or on finding ways to help those around you that may need help during these trying times. Drop off dinner for an elderly neighbor, run a canned food drive for the local food bank, or collect coats for a coat drive. Heck, just buy coffee for the guy behind you in line – sometimes an act of kindness can help 2 people feel better. As real estate agents, we are always looking for ways to connect with our clients to help our community.

  3. PROCESS your feelings – you can stay physically distant without being socially distant. Zoom, Google meet & driveway visits are the norm now, and it’s important to share your feelings & emotions with others – talking often relieves stress and worry before they build to a damaging level. Never has the “care call” been so important as a real estate agent – checking in on your clients and allowing them an opportunity to express THEMSELVES is a valuable thing.

But what to do in business?  If restrictions are put in place again, it won’t stop the need to move – family obligations, outgrowing space, job changes, divorce, marriage, downsizing – these events will never stop, and are you prepared to work if you can’t physically show homes?  

  1. Have the technology in place to do Facebook Live home tours, online showings through Zoom or Duo & make arrangements for virtual open houses with free tools like Calendly.

  2. Links to landing pages to provide all the paperwork a client needs for a listing while providing a safe “hands-free” experience for everyone.

  3. Ask your clients to film a walk-thru of their home – it may be a little shaky and not so professional-looking, but a homeowner is often a great advocate for their own home.

  4. Stunning videos and interactive floorplans can catch a buyer’s attention online. A well-paced slideshow video can be very effective, without much effort – Wondershare Filmora Video Editor is an inexpensive program ideal for beginners (even I can fiddle with it enough to get a decent video out of it, and I am technologically un-savvy!).

  5. Work your clients with care, space your open house attendees for distancing. Have your sellers turn on all lights and open all the doors for a hands-free showing experience. 

With a little planning the adoption of some helpful tech, we can keep our businesses rolling forward. And with a little mindfulness & care for ourselves and others, we can keep our mental health in check as well.

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