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Bad Weather Happens. Good Agents Prepare.

Posted by Windermere Real Estate on Monday, January 7th, 2019 at 1:20pm.

See the original blog post on BiggerPockets here: http://bit.ly/BadWeatherGoodAgents

In the past few years, nature has shown us what it’s capable of. From the recent devastating California wildfires to shocking flooding in and around the Gulf Coast region, residents of the United States have dealt with an array of weather-related troubles. And as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes, the costs associated with those troubles totaled $309.5 billion in 2017 alone. It is truly startling to realize how easily and quickly a major hurricane, flood, fire, or tornado can disrupt someone’s life.

As real estate experts, we owe it to our prospects and clients to take these issues seriously — and more industry players are acknowledging that responsibility. In March 2018, they gathered for Inman Disconnect, where over a three-day period they devoted time to developing industry standards, dubbed the Parker Principles. The 12th and final principle focused on climate change and natural disasters, and it urged everyone in real estate to adopt more responsible, proactive stances toward the reality of hurricanes, snow storms, floods, hail, strong wind, fires, and more.

But what does being a compassionate, client-centric real estate agent in the face of disaster look like in practice? Here are four best practices.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Real estate agents must think beyond the sale to give sellers and buyers a higher level of service than ever.

For instance, if a home is located in an area prone to wildfires, agents need to talk about best practices, such as trimming back brush, using landscaping to create possible firewalls, having adequate insurance, and mapping out a family escape plan. In our area in the Pacific Northwest, we tend to experience very strong winds, so we often talk to our clients about using the proper roofing materials and trimming trees that are too close to the house.

Before disaster strikes, introduce clients to trusted experts in fields like tree removal, septic systems, roofing installation, and insurance to prevent a natural event from becoming a financial hardship. Smart, caring agents can be certain their clients are at least somewhat protected when the unexpected happens.

2. Show sensitivity.

Real estate agents usually work on commission. While it’s not wise to push aside your own fiscal needs completely, responding first with understanding and compassion will ultimately help you rise above the rest. The next time you’re tempted to push a huge sale despite clients’ clear hesitations, take a step back. Their worries regarding the potential damage of a blizzard or earthquake, for example, is quite understandable. Yes, you may be stressed at the thought of a deal going south, but their anxiety likely trumps yours manyfold.

3. Communicate relentlessly.

Superstar agents don’t show properties only to disappear after everyone has signed on the dotted line. They build relationships, and when natural disasters strike, they touch base to see how past buyers and sellers are doing. When a troubling event happens in a community you serve, contact everyone in your sphere of influence without expectation of returned favors. Act as a friend and advisor.

You don’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop to reach out, either. For instance, did a couple recently buy a home in a hurricane-prone area? Call the individuals ahead of the storm and reiterate that new buildings like theirs have master generators, impact glass, hurricane shutters, and more. Ease their worries.

4. Lend a hand — or two.

I’ve seen members of the National Association of Realtors do everything from clean up after extensive water damage to babysit children while parents are occupied. By giving their time, energy, and talents, those agents provide a bridge over volunteer service gaps. If you’re not sure you can physically handle being a crew member on a mold remediation project or during post-hurricane pickup, simply lending an empathetic ear can go miles.

You can offer up this type of “one step further” support more often than you think. Becoming a valuable partner to your clients may seem to take up a lot of time, but what you get back will always be many times what you give.

The question isn’t whether nature is going to strike, but when the next disaster will occur. Get your priorities together now and start reimagining your client and prospect relationships. Everyone will benefit from your thoughtful planning.

Jeff Thompson is managing partner at Windermere Group One. WGO is a member of Windermere Real Estate, a real estate network comprised of 300 offices and more than 6,000 agents throughout the western United States. Jeff is truly passionate about helping build companies by building their people. He leverages his 25-plus years of experience in real estate to coach other managers and brokers. Jeff credits much of his success to hard work and a willingness to partner with good people.

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