Written by Crystal Ward Kent
The real estate market is now strong, but back in March, when COVID began spreading across the land, real estate agents braced for a negative impact. Kristi Whitten, an agent with Keller Williams in Bedford, New Hampshire, remembers how those days felt. “My team got together and immediately agreed that it was important to stay the course and stay strong,” she relates. “We knew that we had to revamp the way that we did things, and come up with a plan that made everyone comfortable, including buyers, sellers and agents. Would people be okay with having people come into their homes? Would buyers want to be out and about? How do we do business in this new world?
“However, we quickly found that we could make this work, and that people responded to our efforts and trusted our commitment,” she continues. “I personally went in and completely cleaned properties in between showings. Everyone had masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and Clorox wipes, in case someone wanted to switch on a light or open a cabinet. We were careful of everyone’s safety. By taking these precautions, we have been able to not only keep business going, but thriving. Despite the challenges, we are actually on track to do better this year than last year, a year in which there was no pandemic.”
Keeping everyone protected also meant adapting to major changes in conducting business and embracing new technology. “Real estate is personal; it’s about building a relationship, building trust and not being able to be there in person is hard,” explains Whitten. “However, we had to conduct most of our business over ZOOM, including buyer consultations. We also did online listing presentations. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked and we learned that we could do much more online than we had dreamed possible. This actually made it easier for elderly buyers and sellers, and for those living at a distance. Some of our older clients were not as technologically knowledgeable, but we gave them tutorials and got them up to speed. They were actually very appreciative that we had the means to keep them safe throughout the process.”
Even though 2020 has been very challenging, Whitten is grateful for what has been achieved and feels she has learned some key lessons. “This year has shown that my team can accomplish anything they set their minds to,” she says. “We’ve proven how adaptable we can be, and we know that we now have valuable technological tools at our disposal that we didn’t have before. I look forward to being able to work with clients in person again, but at least we know now that we can serve our clients, and serve them well, no matter what the situation is.”
Whitten is also proud that her firm was able to meet their charitable goals for the year, despite the many uncertainties. “Giving back is very much a part of our mission, and this year, we provided thousands of dollars worth of food to our local community food banks. We also provided support to parents who had children who needed school supplies and could not be in school due to COVID. Getting involved and being part of our communities is who we are.”
With that in mind, Whitten says that they hope to raise $10,000 for 2021. “If we can do as well as we did in 2020, we know we can do anything we set our minds to for next year!” she says.