Hello, my name is Grant Clayton, owner of 1 Percent Lists, a real estate brokerage just outside New Orleans. New Orleans is now a big “hot spot” for the spread of Covid-19 with our cases seeming to explode with every news cycle.
In these times we have to rethink every interaction with everyone we meet. All of those interactions that were commonplace, especially where I live in the south just outside New Orleans, are now to be avoided at all costs.
Uniquely New Orleans
Down here we don’t just say hi, we hug and kiss each other like we are family even when we aren’t. Our great American melting pot is full of germs and there’s no easier place to spread those germs than New Orleans. Some claim a connection as far back as Mardi Gras.
As the Covid-19 virus, also known as The Coronavirus, rages across the country and the world many businesses and workers are going to be drastically impacted. All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors to avoid spreading the virus to their clients and this is especially true for restaurants, bars, and other businesses that require social interaction.
I could bore you with statistics about the virus, but seemingly everyone is writing about that. The other side of the story that is just starting to get coverage is how businesses owners and their employees are going to cope with this catastrophe.
What Can Local Business Owners Do?
Realistically, the answer to that question will vary wildly depending on what business they are in and what shutting down truly means for them. When businesses shut down people lock their doors and stay home. That is what they are expected to do in this situation, stay home.
Restaurants are trying to adapt by delivering food, doing pick up orders, or using delivery services to keep some business going but many of their employees will struggle. There are a host of other small businesses that are going to be in dire straits, please support them if you can.
Impacts on Real Estate
For real estate agents and companies our business is selling homes. Our business could not be any more intimate and personal. The impact on how we do things can be tremendous. We go into people’s homes everyday, many of them total strangers, to advise them on how to move. So how do we do business in an era where people are literally being told not to leave their homes?
In the real estate industry, many agents are attempting to adapt by doing “virtual showings” of their listings but at the end of the day that only goes so far.
- How many of you would be willing to buy a house that you haven’t even been in?
- How many sellers are excited about inviting strangers into their homes?
If a house goes under contract, we still have to do inspections, appraisals, and closings. It is impossible to do any of these things without someone else invading your personal space.
After you consider all these things then you have to actually hire total strangers to move you, or do it yourself. Who wants to do that right now?
Support for REALTORS?
Many people will order from a small mom and pop pizza joint while they are quarantined to help support their local businesses. But realistically who is going to buy or sell a house to support their local Realtor?
It is inevitable that sour times are coming in our economy, especially the real estate industry. Much like restaurants and their serving staff, many real estate agents aren’t the best planners. Many live month to month getting random seemingly large checks from selling a property followed by two or three months of not selling anything and earning no income at all.
When you couple these facts with no health care benefits or safety net due to being independent contractors you quickly realize many agents will be in dire financial trouble.
How Long Will It Last?
The question is how long will this last? Will people truly stay home for a month and rip the band-aid of this off so to speak so the virus can die down in a month or are we going to continue to spread it throughout the community despite all warnings from virtually every governmental and medical body throughout the world and drag this out to a point where every company struggles to survive.
The only question that matters now is how long this will last. With every day that passes another real estate agent and company feels more strain until they can no longer bear it. I would argue in the real estate world that Realtors will feel this pain more than almost any other industry at a level not seen since the financial crisis of 2008 and possibly worse.
We as Americans will decide how bad this pain will be.
One extremely safe prediction is that in every single industry across the spectrum a very large number of those workers, contractors, Realtors, and even the companies themselves will not be here in 3 months without a lot of governmental intervention. Realistically the government can prop people and companies up for a short period of time but at some point even the strength of the entire federal government is not enough.
Support ALL of Your Local Businesses
Time will tell, please stay safe and support your local small businesses and communities and let’s get past this as quickly as possible. Keep your distance, don’t let this spread anymore than this has to.
Our older population and those with medical issues need you to do this; it is literally a matter of life and death. The CDC has provided some very helpful guidance.
Small businesses and self employed people around you need you to do your part to end this quickly because it is a matter of financial life and death for them.