Bob Thompson — Hampton Roads, VA
“When the COVID thing first hit, there was definitely a sense of panic in terms of, OK, we're shutting this down and we're just going to have to make do with whatever closings we've got coming.
“I actually took a couple of my higher-end properties off the market. And when I say higher-end for Hampton Roads, we're talking like $450k is higher end. So I pulled some of those off the market because there was just so much, you know — everything was in flux. I didn't see any point to leaving them on the market when I wasn't going to be able to say, ‘OK, why is this thing not selling?’ Because we don't know what's going on. And at the time, folks that are buying a $450k property typically are more influenced by the stock market and things of that nature, and that was going crazy. So it was the best-case scenario to just, let's walk away for a month and see what happens.
“Lower end properties kind of did what they were going to do. Then surprisingly enough, all of the short sales that I had that had been taking forever to get done magically got done because the bank had way more time to deal with them and wanted to get them off their books. So after about a month of ‘Holy cow, let's start saving our pennies." Things kind of just started going back to normal, didn't do a whole lot of virtual selling.
“I'll be quite honest, and I'm probably in the minority. I don't really believe video selling works. I think folks need to get their hands on it and look at the property. Now it's fine from a starter's point of view in terms of, ‘OK, you live in California and you're buying in Hampton Roads.’ We can FaceTime and you can go, ‘OK, well, let's put it contingent on me viewing the property and all that,’ but at the end of the day, it's been my experience that your average Joe wants to get in there and feel that property and see that property and just kind of have that sense of, ‘Wow, this is going to be my new home, and I love it and Bob, can you make it happen?’ So then, if things have gone and gone back to normal, rates are great. What I'm telling everybody in Hampton Roads is it's a great time to sell. It's a terrible time to buy because you're overpaying like a champ.
“For the most part, (it’s about) being respectful of what the seller's desires are. I have a seller that, pre COVID to post COVID, she ended up moving her 80-year-old mother into the home. So we're only allowed to show the house on weekends and they have to wear a mask, gloves and booties. So that's been a bit of a challenge. It's a higher-end property, but I mean, it is what it is. It's going to sell sooner or later. And it's just a matter of being patient and respecting her wishes. Other than that, that's really been it. I've been blessed where a lot of times, it's been a vacant property or something like that, so you can kind of go in and do your thing.
“I do a lot of pre-showing, especially if I've got a client that kind of wants something a little bit out of the ordinary, then I'll do the pre-showing ahead of time. So I can go ahead and cut down and eliminate, ‘OK, well, they got six properties they like. I'm going to look at them and I'm going to narrow it down to three because the other three don't really fit. So that helps with just kind of, just me going in and getting out without bringing the whole, you know, mom, dad, and the kids.
“While we were having that down period, I got my diversity training. I got a couple of different little what I would call quote, unquote, “little real estate diplomas,” little bobbles and trinkets that whether anybody likes it or not, the banks like, and I had like a month there where that's really, all I could do was just, OK, put my head down and got my North Carolina license and just, you know, got ready.”