Q&A – Coronavirus & Real Estate

Read the blog below:

Anthony: Hi, everyone. We’ll start in about a minute or two. I want to make sure we give people time to tune in and this video will stay up. We had a lot of people this morning. Text, call, email, message and say, “I can’t be there at 11:00. I have a listing appointment. I have a buyer appointment.” My first thought was, “Good for you,” but it will stay up on the page, so no worries there. This is going to be like 50 Crush It videos. 

I am excited to be here with you all, happy to be here with you all. We’ve had a tremendous amount of questions. People coming in looking for information inside our company, outside our company, friends around the country. We’re all messaging each other, “What are you doing? How are you handling this?”

The other day, I said, “Why don’t we just go live and answer people’s questions live?” Now, when we announced it, we asked people to send their questions in, in advance so that we could put them together. I will tell you, many of you had the same or very similar questions. What I decided to do is put together about the 10 most popular. Here, they are here. I’m going to go through them for probably 15 or 20 minutes before we get into the actual Q&A because I thought that that would answer a lot of people’s questions.

First thing that I want to talk about is, number one, this is not a time for sales, okay? It’s not. I always talk to you guys about different sales strategies, ways to get in front of more clients, ways to convert people into working with you. Right now, guys, we need to be compassionate. We need to be doing what makes people comfortable. We need to be taking care of our clients, our buyers, our sellers. That’s what the focus needs to be.

Now, I know that there are people that can’t avoid selling. It’s been interesting to see different people from different pockets of the business making comments, “Well, why are you guys listing homes? Why are you doing open houses?” all these different kinds of things. I think some of them– and if you’re watching, you need to remember that there are sellers even in this market who might be in a financial spot or maybe they’ve agreed to buy something else and they need to go through with it and buy that home.

It’s important for people to recognize that everyone has different ones and needs. Until our government tells us to actually shelter in place and then we’re all stuck home, realtors have to serve their clients. We have fiduciary duties to clients. We know, realtors know, and I’m saying this to defend many of you, that if someone says, “Put my home on the market tomorrow,” and you don’t do it, you could lose that client. I recognize that is something that’s challenging.

What I would like to start off with though is this. Do not push people into listing, don’t. There’s no reason for that. If a seller waits two or three weeks, they are going to be at zero disadvantage. No disadvantage whatsoever. There’s no reason to push people into listing. Right now, from our measurements and we have a lot of them, we’re evaluating leads. We’re evaluating properties temporarily withdrawn, properties canceled, properties listed.

From what I can tell, there’s about 20% less buyers in the market that are out there active. That’s an unscientific measurement, but that’s what I’m noticing. That 20% of buyers, the vast majority of them are going to come roaring back as soon as we get back to some sense of normalcy, which is hopefully in two or three weeks. Number one, do not force your sellers to list. I also should preface a lot of what I’m saying with.

Check with your own broker, your own legal team at your own company, but my recommendation realtor to realtor is don’t be pushing people into list. Also, buyers, don’t be trying to sell buyers right now. If people are truly fearful of losing their job and they think that they might actually lose their job, that is a legitimate reason to help your buyer get out of the transaction or I just talked to our realtors about this– 45 minutes with them or negotiate an extension.

Even if you put a deal on their agreement in the last two days and the buyer says, “You know what? There’s rumors everywhere that I’m getting laid off. I’m worried,” okay, let’s talk to the other side. Let’s get a two-week extension on home inspection, on purchasing sale. If we can get them to agree to the extension, that gives you more time to sort things out. That’s fine. This is a time right now that extensions are really going to be our friends.

This reminds me a lot of the summer of 2008. I’m going to get into that more in a few minutes. That’s like five lines down, but I’m jumping ahead. Again, first part of what I’m saying, don’t be pushing sellers to list. Don’t be pushing buyers to buy. This isn’t the time for that. If people want to buy, of course, you have to help them buy. If you don’t, another realtor will. If they want to list and you don’t help them, another realtor will.

I recognize there’s some of that going on right now, but let’s say as a whole, as a realtor community, and I know there’s people watching nationally as well, let’s not be pushing people in to do that. That not right. It’s not a time for sales. The tricky part of the situation that us realtors are in, and I’m saying this for all the other people that are watching, attorneys and different people who I mentioned from different pockets, this is almost telling skiers.

I’m a skier. I ski every year multiple times, sad to see a lot of mountains closing down early, but obviously entirely understandable. This is like telling skiers that they can’t go skiing the first weekend in January. It’s just embedded in people that this is the time of year that you list and you buy. Now, I’ve talked for years about how the better time to buy in the fall, but nobody listens. Buyers always want to buy in the spring.

I think that part of what we’re dealing with– I don’t think. I know that part of what we’re dealing with is just that. If this were fall– I will tell you, my realtor friends. If this were fall, the market would be falling off a cliff right now. 90% of sellers would be coming off. 90% of buyers would go, “I’ll wait until after the first of the year.” From a business perspective, a financial perspective for everyone because you all have bills to pay, that’s a good thing that is not fall.

From a medical and social perspective, right now, there’s a lot of social pressure for everybody to stay in the home. From those perspectives, it’s tricky to deal with. Because as I mentioned, if you don’t help the consumer, someone else will. That’s what you guys are dealing with. That’s why I think help the ones that need to be helped, help the buyers that need to be helped. Send them properties, show them properties, do Zoom meetings.

One of the things we just talked about is how we’re going to get Zoom training for everyone. You guys can do that as well. I know there’s a lot of great competitors that I have out there that are watching right now. No reason you all can’t join us and teach your agents how to get on Zoom, how to use Microsoft Teams within the company. We all need to up our skills at doing things virtually for at least a few weeks.

I wish I bought a stock and go to web and Zoom two weeks ago. Those talks are booming now, but back to what I was saying. The other thing that I want to talk about is showings in whether to do open houses or not. This is something that is being very much debated right now. I want to talk about my opinion. Now, this is Anthony Lamacchia’s opinion. It doesn’t mean I’m right. I spent several years selling homes.

I stopped selling in 2011. I even worked with a client one-on-one since 2011, but I know how selling homes goes. I still think, let me finish my sentence, open houses are better than multiple private showings and here’s why. If you control the traffic as you should, my recommendation to all of you, I’m going to give you the same recommendation I gave to our realtors, team up with some people in your office.

Have one realtor outside the home, the one who’s not the listing agent, controlling the crowd. Three or four people at a time. Okay. Your group is next. Go through the home. The listing agent lets one group go, lets a new group come in. When the new group comes in, you’re telling them, “Do me a favor. Please don’t be opening closet doors, cabinet doors. You don’t need to look in every single room. Just walk through the home and then you’re going to walk out of the home.”

Three or four people, maybe five people a time controlling the traffic, bringing groups in, bringing groups out. I think that is a better way to do this than it is to have multiple showings back to back. At this time of year, if you don’t have an open house, you list their home on a Thursday and you don’t have an open house on a Saturday, end of Sunday or one or the other, you’re going to deal with private showings at three o’clock, four o’clock, six o’clock, eight o’clock, nine o’clock in the morning, eleven o’clock, five o’clock because there’s this many buyers even now and this many sellers.

This is the time of year we’re in a very odd time. In many ways, it couldn’t happen at a worst time. From a business perspective, I think it probably couldn’t happen to a better time. It depends which way that you look at it. That is why I feel, at least at this stage of the game, strongly that you’re better off doing it. I don’t even know if I should call it open houses. One of our VPs said to me, “It’s really like group showings, Anthony. Maybe we shouldn’t use the term ‘open house.'”

Dave’s got a point with that, but that is something that I think is important for people to recognize and to think about, but controlling the traffic is key. I had some notes here about how I’ve heard there’s been some infighting among realtors on different Facebook groups. I want to revert back to what I mentioned in the beginning. If you’re a realtor who’s screaming at everyone on Facebook about, “You guys are crazy. Everybody should stay in the home,” well, that’s your opinion.

Perhaps you don’t have a client that’s saying, “I will be foreclosed on by May if I don’t list. I can’t afford to pay my mortgage if I don’t sell this property because I just bought that one.” Maybe you’re not in that position. If you are in that position, that’s a tough spot to be in and you’ve got to do what’s right by your client. There are buyers out there looking. Every single day, there are transactions coming together.

I looked at some statistics. Just to give you guys some examples, let’s look at Massachusetts. Pending statistics, Monday and Tuesday, the last two days, 800 homes, one pending in Massachusetts. Monday and Tuesday last week, 870. Monday and Tuesday the week before, 768. Are you guys following me? It hasn’t fallen off yet. I think by next week, we’re going to see the pending statistics slow down. Right now, it hasn’t.

This is the position that some realtors are in. I want to say this loud and clear because I know there’s some people out there. There’s even some people hating on realtors over and it frustrates me because they don’t know what it’s like to have a fiduciary duty to a client and to have to serve that client. I think, we, as realtors, we can handle this with group showings or open houses, but we’ve got to be smart.

Let’s not be shaking hands. Let’s tell people to wash their hands or use Purell. Before they go in at home, let’s tell them not to be touching everything. You go through first with clean hands. You open the home up for them to see and tell them point-blank, “Look, at this time, there’s no opening closets. There’s no opening cabinets. I’m going to bring you through the home.” I wanted to explain that because I really think realtors should be coming together right now.

I think that it’s crazy to hear that some people are fighting about it. I don’t think it’s right. I’ve even had a couple of people message me, “You be the leader. You’re the leader. You’re the most known realtor. You come out and say no showings, no open houses.” I’m not going to say that. I’m not going to go that far. For those of you that are critics of me, I saw a gentleman on– I just probably shouldn’t call him a gentleman.

By the way, he was talking. I saw a guy on our Lamacchia Realty Live that I did the other day. I think he was from California. He was a banker or something. He made comments, “Listen to this guy,” blah, blah, blah, going on and on. I’m not backing down. That’s my opinion. Realtors are in a tricky spot right now. We’ve got to make sure to serve our clients, but also protect the public, not hurt the public, and be safe. Again, don’t be pushing sellers to list, don’t be pushing buyers to buy.

Next subject. What will happen to the market? Don’t worry. I will get to your questions. I promise we’re going to do a Q&A. We’re going to do it in probably 15 or 20 minutes. We took everybody’s questions. There was 10 of them, put them together for me to explain first and then I will do a Q&A for a long time. I promise you, guys. What will happen to the market? There are a lot of realtors and some really good ones that are saying, “What’s going to happen? Is this it? We haven’t had a downfall in 12, 13 years. Is this the one?”

I still don’t think so. I don’t think so. If you don’t agree with me, that’s your right to not agree with me. We are in a strong economy. Yes. We’ve been tipped on our axis here and off our axis. Things are going to get ugly, at least for a few weeks. Well, likely, a few months. I think that GDP growth probably won’t exist in the first quarter. Guys, remember what defines a recession? A recession is three consecutive quarters of negative growth. I don’t know if it’ll be negative in the first quarter, but I doubt we’ll have growth.

When you think about where we’re at, low inventory, high buyer demand. High buyer demand even right now. Guys, there’s no buyers looking. I just talked to you about pending stats, right? I don’t see it. The economy is strong. Are there going to be layoffs? Yes. Do I think we’re going to take a step back? Yes. Do I think we’re going to fall off a cliff? I don’t. I’ve heard that there’s been some buyers saying things like, “Oh, I don’t want to pay 500 today. It’d be worth 300 in three months.” Not going to happen.

First of all, it’s not going to happen, period. End of story. It’s not going to happen that quickly. If we end up in a situation where the medical aspect of this– Remember, guys, we don’t have an economic crisis. We have a health crisis that is causing an economic problem. Big difference. The surgeon general this morning, I watched the video of him. We’re going to put this video in the comments. I think it’s Dr. Jerome Bennett. Very smart man and well-spoken.

He talked about it. He goes, “We need 15 days.” They said, “Do you think it’s going to take longer?” He said, “As a whole? Yes, it’s going to take longer.” He said, “But if we can get 15 days, we can really flatten the curve.” What does he mean by that? He means we’re not going to be on the continuous upward trajectory of more infections, more infections. There’s no doubt infections are going to go up once they get the testing right over the next week.

There’s going to be a huge spike, but then they’re hoping to flatten it off. He mentioned South Korea as an example and he compared it to Italy. Now, I don’t think there’s any secret. I’m Italian, Anthony Joseph Lamacchia. I’m not picking on our Italian friends, but they were behind this thing. For whatever reasons, I’m sure they had their reason. They were behind it. They didn’t go into lockdown until they were in complete disarray. We’re way in front of us.

If you look at South Korea, they went up. They dealt with it. It started falling off. China is falling off. Singapore went in, out, and it fell off. The surgeon general talked about that this morning. He said, “I think if we can get 15 days of everybody pulling their necks in, doing less, it’ll stop the virus from spreading and things will get better.” If that is how this goes, I am going to tell you that I think in a year or two, we’re going to look back and say, “Wow, that wasn’t just a bump in the road. That was like a mountain in the road, but we got through it. The economy slowed down. Housing slowed down a bit, but we got through it.”

Guys, 9/11, I was not in this business. I talked to you about this last week. I was working with my dad’s company. The phone died for three straight weeks. We didn’t even get a complaint for three weeks. It was nothing. All of a sudden, three weeks later, it turned down again. I was talking to a great realtor friend last night, Jack Attridge. He’s up on the North Shore. He was talking about what it was like to be in real estate then.

He said, “You know what, Anthony? It got a little busier after three weeks, but it didn’t really get going again till January.” Once January came, it went nuts. The owner of Halstead Real Estate down in New York said that to me. Diane said that last week. She said, “Anthony, a couple of months after 9/11, it was crazy. There was so much pent-up demand.” Guys, same thing is going to happen here. There’s going to be cabin fever with people like never before. Everybody’s cooped up.

Remember something else. When they’re cooped up, no one’s really spending money. They’re not really spending money. When they’re not spending money, what’s going to happen once they’re let out? People are going to be out. They’re going to be buying again. If you get a buyer that wants to bail on a deal now, help them bail out. If they’re just scared, maybe do an extension, say, “Let’s get a two or three-week extension until you find out what’s going to happen with your job. I’ll give the listing agent a call.”

You give the listing agent a call with their permission and you say, “Hey, here’s what’s going on. My buyer is concerned about losing their job, but they want the home. It doesn’t sound like they’re definitely going to lose their job. I doubt right now, your seller wants to go back on the market. If we do an extension for two weeks, so just hold on. Delay inspection, delay purchase and sale for three weeks. Let’s see what happens.”

Guys, that’s the kind of working together that realtors had back in the summer of 2008. For those of you that weren’t around then, that summer in August, it was like, “What is going on?” Deals were falling through. We had situations where closing was at one o’clock. 11:00 AM, the bank went bankrupt. The first week, there were people angry, “I’m not extending.” After a week, all of a sudden, all the realtors started working together. All the attorneys started working together.

They’re calling each other, “Hey, here’s what’s going on. Freddie Mac went under, this company went under, that company went under, OneWest, all these different companies.” What happened? Everybody started working together. We started getting extensions. By the time we get to September, extensions were put in place. By the time we get to October, we were back to closing deals. I don’t want to say “normally.” It was a rough fall. There was an improvement.

Use extensions. Just get people through this and we’ll get to the other side. I do not see a massive market collapse. I don’t even know– Let me say this. I don’t even think we’ll see prices go down. Do I think that the acceleration on prices going up will continue? No. It’s probably going to back off for at least six months. Do I think prices are going to fall? I don’t think it’s going to be that bad. The only caveat I have to that is if two to three weeks turns into three or four months.

If we are locked down for three to four months and, medically, this thing goes off a cliff, I think we’re going to have much bigger problems. I do not see an oh-wait scenario. When you look back in ’08, guys, we had a credit crisis, a real estate crisis, just an overall economic downturn. It was, literally, the perfect storm in the economy. Everything. Commodities went down. Oil was in the toilet. Everything went down. People weren’t spending. Everything changed. We’re not in that situation.

The economy’s been booming. The jobs report, I’ve mentioned it 15 times in the last two weeks. The jobs report, two Fridays ago, 278,000 jobs created in the month of February. Now, is that going to happen in March? No, there’s going to be negative probably. My point is we went into this strong. We didn’t go into it week like in ’08. I think I talked about that enough. I’m going to take more questions after.

Next item to talk about is the delays that we are going to experience and why you realtors need to be aware of what is going to get delayed and aware of what to expect, how to deal with it, et cetera. Number one, mortgage brokers. I did a video on this two Saturday mornings ago. Guys, they’re really getting it from all angles right now. The rates dropped considerably. Are we okay? Everybody seeing me, okay? I just want to make sure because they’re talking.

Rates dropped considerably two and a half weeks ago, down to almost 3.13%, lowest rates in history. Since then, last Thursday, they went up a little bit because investors stopped buying bonds. That’s why the government got involved on Sunday and bought $200 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities. That should settle rates back down again, but mortgage brokers are getting it from all angles. They have tons of refis. There’s still a lot of purchase demand out there.

I spoke to a friend of mine who’s the number one mortgage broker. I did that in our event. I called him a realtor. He would’ve been a good realtor. Number one mortgage broker in America, of Guaranteed Rate. I talked to him about it last night and he’s like, “Dude, the purchase volume is still strong. I can’t believe it.” I said, “No, I can’t either.” They’re dealing with purchase and they’re dealing with refi.

I think by next week, we’re going to see purchase volume. We’re going to see demand of buyers go down a little bit. When I continue down that supply chain, if I was drawing on my board here, I would say, “Think about where you’re going to see delays. You’re going to see it with mortgage brokers. You’re going to see it with attorneys. Attorneys are dealing with all these refis.”

Now, cities and towns are closed. Well, guys, they’re not going to be closed forever, but they’re closed right now. Let’s say they’re closed for two weeks. If they’re closed for two weeks, now law firms can’t get municipal lien certificates, otherwise known as MLCs. They can’t get a municipal lien certificate, you can’t close a deal. The fire departments in most towns are not doing smoke inspection. Now, you can’t get a smoke sign-off.

I will tell you right here in the town of our headquarters, Waltham, one of our top agent last year, she’s doing a smoke inspection this morning over FaceTime. They’re going to be showing the dates of the detectors walking through the entire home. Also, we have a property that we purchased in Belmont that we were delayed on getting a permit sign-off. The inspector said, “Let’s do it over FaceTime.”

I think the whole virtual world is going to adapt. I’ll tell you this. I think it will adapt more if this goes beyond two to three weeks. If it’s two weeks, it’ll be like, “Yes, we used FaceTime. We used Zoom.” This goes beyond that, people are going to be using it like crazy. One of the mentioned cities and towns, appraisers. Guys, appraisers aren’t going to be able to keep up with all this demand, so there’s going to be delays there.

Title companies and title examiners. People get new title whenever they refinance, whenever they buy. Title examiners that work at the registry, they’ve got to examine all these titles and make sure that things are right. Last but not least, on the supply chain, there’s other peripheral-type delays, but is the registries being closed? That brings on my whole next topic. Registries being closed is a problem. We’re going to have trouble closing deals. I want to talk to you guys about that.

Registries are closed, courthouses are closed. Once again, I’m going to say it’s not going to last forever. It is impossible. Our government cannot shut down our society forever. I think that’s part of the reason this morning– One of the things that I do in my business every day of my life, I have a habit of constantly thinking about what the other person is thinking. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. People around me think I’m real good at it.

When the attorney general was saying this morning, “We need 15 days,” I was thinking to myself, “He’s saying that on purpose because they are starting to worry that they over-scared people into thinking this is going to be several months.” He kept saying 15 days. He even pulled his document up. He said, “15 days.” Not going to be forever, but in the meantime, we’ve got a couple of problems and we’ve got to be able to deal with it.

Now, e-closings. The other day when I did a video, I said, “South Middlesex Registry of Deeds in Cambridge was the only one not allowing e-closings. They are all allowing it now, but here’s the problem. When real estate is transacted here as an example in Massachusetts– I know other states, even title states, they want notaries to sign– at least most of them, I don’t want to speak for all states. They want notaries to sign and confirm that the actual buyer’s there, the actual seller’s there.

What a lot of folks in the real estate law side of things are doing– I spoke to Nik Ligris of Ligris + Associates. I traded some messages with Rich Weinstein, I think the correct pronunciation is. What they’re doing is they’ve got a bill on the governor’s desk. We’ve confirmed that the governor is looking at it. That’s going to allow attorneys to get on Zoom and to watch buyers sign what sellers sign and do a notary over Zoom in the meantime.

This is a temporary bill. We’re told that the governor realizes it’s a priority, but he said it’s not a top priority, which I understand. In my opinion, this goes beyond two weeks. Watch how fast it’ll become a top priority. Another thing that real estate attorneys are telling people– Guys, I’ve been saying this for years. You realtors do not need to go to closings. Closings are for lawyers. They’re not for realtors. When realtors go to closings, they go– and you do nothing really.

When is the last time you did something in a closing other than hand a set of keys or walk through a printer and copy something? We have that in our training. I teach it nationally. There’s no reason to go to a closing. Now, we’re being asked not to go. This is your practice in not going. Let me give you a tip on that though. You make sure to speak to all the parties involved the night before or the morning of. You double-check with everybody again. You call your client.

You make sure they’re feeling good going into the closing. You let them know that you’re a phone call away. You save yourself four hours, my friends, and then you don’t have to go. This is perfect practice. The other question I got from several team leaders in broker-owner friends around the country is, “What are you doing at your company?” I’ve shared with them a memorandum that we created that goes over all different types of things that we’ve either temporarily changed or we’ve adjusted or things that we’ve asked for.

I’m not going to spend a ton of time on this because I don’t ever on this page like to come off like we’re promoting our company because we don’t do that, but I’m going to spend a few minutes because I’ve gotten so many questions. We now have almost all staff working from home. Even the folks that are coming in are only coming in for a few hours here or there, mostly related to senior management or bookkeeping.

We’ve got to make sure, obviously, to deposit our checks. We’ve got to make sure to keep up with certain things. Office admins and all of our branch offices are going in for just a few hours a day to check on things, to make sure to deposit checks in our deposit machines. That’s a change that we’ve made. We’re also telling sellers in an email that they are at no disadvantage to wait two to four weeks to list their home.

The reason we’re saying that is we always as a company beat the drum every year because it’s true. The sellers are better off listing sooner in the year than later into the spring because inventory is lower, buyer demand is higher. We put in an email, and I’m asking every realtor to do it, to send out to all of their sellers basically saying, “Look, because of coronavirus,” blah, blah, blah, legality, legality, “you’re at no disadvantage in being able to sell if you delay a couple of weeks.”

The other thing that we’re doing is we’ve had signage all over the place in our offices for several weeks now about hand washing. We’ve had wipes next to all our common stations, asking people to wipe things down before and after use. Now, those common stations are shut down. We’ve asked all realtors to work from home and only come in if they need to pick something up, drop something off, and they need to warn us when they’re on the way.

We’re really trying to follow the government’s recommendations to get this darn thing to go away. We’ve also waived certain accountability metrics. I have a lot of friends around the country that have large teams and they’ve said to me, “Hey, some of my agents are saying it’s tough to get a meeting.” I’ll tell you guys what we did. We completely paused all our accountability tracking in our system. We don’t want being hard on people right now.

It’s too difficult of a time. We just all need to get through it together. We’re continuing our training. I got that question from about 10 people. We’re continuing our training, but we’re doing it virtually. I did some live training with people virtually this morning. The rest of it is through an online training center. If you guys don’t have one, then get on a feed just like this and do some training with your agents to keep everybody sharp. That’s my recommendation.

Last thing, as a company, we did make it clear to all our realtors that we are here to serve them. There should be no interruption and hanging signs, hanging lockboxes, having brochures ready, all of those things that we do every day, paying our agents. We are determined to make sure there’s no interruptions. That concludes everything that I wanted to go through. I want to reiterate before I get onto the Q&A portion that, guys, this is not going to be forever.

I will bet on America every single time. You look at the other countries. I already referenced them. I’m not going to go back through it. Fortunately, it started on the eastern side of the world. Now, it’s here in the western side of the world, right? We’ve had some things that we can learn from. We are on top of it. How nice is it to finally see all these people in Washington that always argue on both sides of the aisle actually working together?

They’re passing bills left and right. They’re talking about a $1 trillion stimulus plan. Talk about adding to the built-up demand. That’s going to be incredible. It’s not going to last forever. Even if two to three weeks turns into six or seven weeks, which I don’t think it will happen, that’s my opinion, I don’t see it. I do not see a collapse unless we went six months. I will tell you, I bet on America every time.

We’re going to come out of this. A lot of realtor friends have reached out to me. I’ve even gotten some texts like, “Is this it? Is the market going off a cliff? Are we going to be okay?” Guys, here’s my message to you. We’re going to be fine. We’re going to get through this. We’re real estate professionals. This isn’t an everyday job. We have fiduciary duties. We have to advise our clients.

We have to give them advice. We’ve got to do what’s right for them. We need to be the strong voice. We need to be the one talking to them about these things, citing different statistics like some of the ones I mentioned with homes listed and things like that, telling them what’s going on in the market and letting them make the decision. Guys, we will get through this. Question and answer, let’s go.

Assistant 1: All right.

Anthony: You want to speak up so they can hear you?

Assistant 1: Yes. Sorry. I just took a couple of pictures here. “On the topic of open houses, I saw one property yesterday that had the weekend available for private showings. Sellers are leaving the property entirely and then having it cleaned before they go back home.”

Anthony: I love it.

Assistant 1: “Just another way to help things move smoother?”

Anthony: I love that. That’s smart. I just realized when she said that, I didn’t complete my explanation on why I think open houses are better. I did talk about how when there’s multiple private showings one after the other, after the other, after the other, it’s impossible. No seller comes home every time there’s a private showing and cleans their whole house perfectly. If they have an open house and that points to whoever that realtor was, who was that?

Assistant 1: That was James Cote.

Anthony: That realtor is right to talk about that and I love that. The seller is leaving the home. People can go in and see the home. Before everybody goes back in, they’re having the whole house clean. That’s beautiful.

Assistant 1: Jason Cote. Sorry. One of us.

Anthony: Good luck, Jason.

Assistant 1: Just another comment. James Major. “Your local state and national realtor boards are pushing out COVID-19 information that you may find useful.”

Anthony: Yes, Jim’s 100% right. Jim is a realtor with us. Next question, I want it to be from other realtors if we have them. Jim was president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors last year. He’s talking about how the national, the state, and the local realtor boards are on top of this. They really are. I want to make sure everyone knows that. Two weeks ago or three weeks ago, I was in Miami.

I was talking about our pack and I was talking about different things related to our associations and how the average realtor, I’m sorry to say, does not realize how much our associations do for us. Guys, let me tell you something. There is an entire lobbying team and regulatory team indirect contact on a daily basis right now, that’s as far as I’ll explain, with the Treasury.

They’re working with them, with lawmakers. They’re working with them right now on the bills that are being written to help people in small business help sole practitioners and to make sure that we get through this as realtors. Without our realtor organization in 2008, without the National Association of Realtors in 2008, we wouldn’t have had a market to sell homes in by 2010. I am absolutely thrilled to have them with us and I believe some of them will watch it. Go ahead.

Assistant 1: John Rogers wrote, “Presenting extension equals time for breather worked for my team.”

Anthony: Yes, John’s 100% right. Hopefully, people can hear that. I think they can hear when Lindsay asks questions. She has a very soft voice.

Assistant 1: I’m right next to it.

Anthony: Yes, okay.

Anthony: John’s right. Presenting an extension, using extensions gives people a breather. I really think that that’s a good thing to do. It’s okay if it’s a lot of questions. I have a lot of time.

Assistant 1: John Rogers also said, “Yes, our company goes in for the client and cleans. Exhausting, but worth it.”

Anthony: Well, that’s impressive, John, if you have people going in and doing cleaning as well. I misunderstood Lindsey. She said we don’t have a lot of questions.

Assistant 1: Let them in.

Anthony: Guys, ask away. How many people do we have watching right now?

Assistant 1: We have 160 to 170. It’s been going back and forth.

Anthony: 160, 170. Okay, happy to answer more if not.

Assistant 1: Jack Attridge. I think you just mentioned him.

Anthony: Yes, Jack’s a good man.

Assistant 1: “Don’t be pitching right now. Be a helper in your community, helping those that may be compromised.”

Anthony: 100% right.

Assistant 1: Tom Warner, “Yes. I would even consider paying for them to stay in a hotel a few nights around open house time if it came to that.”

Anthony: Yes, that’s nice.

Assistant 2: They can hear you.

Anthony: They can hear it. Good, good, good.

Assistant 1: Just going back through. Sorry. We have a YouTube question here.

Anthony: YouTube question, sure. What is it?

Assistant 1: Well, not a question, a comment. “The buyers that I am working with are still looking and wanting to buy. It seems that the new buyers are using caution. This is from what I am seeing and I live in New Jersey.

Anthony: That’s interesting. Okay. Well, thank you. Was that Nancy? Nancy from New Jersey. Thank you for tuning in, Nancy. That’s an interesting observation and I want to explain that to everyone. What she said is it seems the new buyers are pausing, but the buyers that have been active are continuing. I think that makes perfect sense. It’s a psychological thing. If people are already looking, they’ve already made the decision to buy. It’s unusual for a consumer, especially at this time of year, to pull back and not buy. That’s what’s happening now.

Assistant 1: Christine Sarah Feeney.

Anthony: Hi, Christine. She’s in Albany.

Assistant 1: “Should we as realtors be concerned about how we are perceived if we are still actively doing business and showing homes?”

Anthony: Christine, I think that’s a valid question. Should we be concerned about how we’re perceived? I think that’s a valid question. Frankly, that’s part of the reason that I did so much explaining 15 minutes ago about why realtors are somewhat caught between a rock and a hard place right now where we can’t just say, “Oh, we won’t do it.” You know what this reminds me of? For my friends here that pay attention to oil, OPEC, the group that oversees all the oil producers internationally.

When it starts to be too much of a supply of oil, OPEC tells all the producers, “Okay. Slow down production.” Well, there’s always one that says, “Go to hell. I’m making more oil,” because they want to drown the other ones. It’s a similar situation in business right now. Not that I want to compare us to oil companies, but it’s a similar example. Unless someone at a government level comes out and says, “Shelter in place. No open houses, no showings,” we don’t have a choice. Because if we don’t help people, they’re going to go to the next realtor.

If you’re listening and if you’re one of these people saying, “Oh, so what? You should let it go,” okay, I have news for you whatever business you’re in. If you’re a realtor who’s got three or four homes to list in the spring and you’ve been talking to a seller for six months and you’re depending on selling those homes and, all of a sudden, you only have two to sell, that affects you. That’s what realtors are dealing with. I’m happy to have that argument with anybody who doesn’t get it.

Assistant 1: Ziggie. I’m sorry if I’m butchering names. 

Anthony: That’s okay. Ziggie. What the question?

Assistant 1: “Do you think realtors will get $1,000 from the government like full-time employees might get?”

Anthony: Do I think realtors will get $1,000 from the government like full-time employees? I don’t really know if I should answer that. My guess, yes, because I think they’re sending it out to all taxpayers making under $1 million a year. It’s what I heard this morning, but don’t quote me on that.

Assistant 1: Wendy McGuire, “My sellers want a broker open. I’m thinking a virtual broker open is a way to go to keep us all safe and healthy. Any thoughts?”

Anthony: Well, a broker open house. I’m actually someone that never believed a ton in broker open houses. I know they make sellers feel warm and fuzzy. Unless it’s a new construction with a ton of properties or something like that, I don’t think they’re that effective. That’s just my opinion. Doing it virtually? Sure. If you can, go in there and do a nice video like a really good video that you can send out to people or get on it live and have a bunch of people tune in. You could do a Facebook Live to a group so that you can control who’s watching and then you can answer their questions live like I’m doing right now. [chuckles]

Assistant 1: Peggy Perkins [unintelligible 00:37:08] said, “Has this been affecting multiple offer situations?”

Anthony: Has it been affecting multiple offer situations? I will tell you that on Monday, I heard from a handful of realtors that said, “You know what? I thought I was getting six offers. I got four. I thought I was getting eight offers. I got seven.” Again, that points to that decrease demand. We’re dealing with about 20%– In my unscientific opinion at this stage of the game, demand has gone down about 20%. I can give you guys a little insight how I’m measuring this.

We’re looking at the amount of leads that are coming in. We’re looking at all different kinds of things, properties listed. Let’s talk about the properties listed stat for one minute, okay? Yesterday and the day before, 576 homes listed in Massachusetts. Last Monday and Tuesday, 693. The Monday and Tuesday before that, 720. Well, guys, that number should be increasing dramatically, not decreasing. It does show sellers are pulling back a bit, which I think is smart. There’s some sellers pulling back. There’s some buyers pulling back. It makes sense.

Assistant 1: Suzanne Collar.

Anthony: Suzie.

Assistant 1: “Doing as much as we can virtually shows how we can adapt but still serve the needs. You can go do a Google Hangout or Zoom or Facebook Live, walk through and add your thoughts on the house. I am personally not holding open houses, but I was curious to hear your thoughts, Ant.”

Anthony: Well, hopefully, Suzie was listening half hour ago when I talked deeply about open houses, which maybe we should be called group showings. I can go over it again in a shorter version. I do believe they are better than doing multiple private showings because the seller is not going to come home after multiple private showings and clean the home. What she mentioned about virtual, I think that’s smart. She’s always ahead of the curve on technology. Full disclosure, Suzie’s a friend of mine.

I will tell you all this. I am not a fan of buyers and sellers signing offers without buyers actually stepping foot on the property. When they don’t, the likelihood of fall-through is substantially higher and I think I don’t recommend it. You can show it to a bunch of people on a Facebook group. If you get one person that says, “All right. I’m really serious. I want to see it,” meet them there. Same story. Listen, don’t be opening everything in the home. Let’s wash hands before we go in, blah, blah, blah. Next.

Assistant 1: Kelly DiMatt said, “I listed a home yesterday and have almost 10 requests to see it today.”

Anthony: That’s a pretty impressive stat. She listed a home yesterday, 10 requests to see it today. I would suggest doing a group showing, telling everybody, “Hey, guys. We’re going to be showing this home on Saturday from 12:00 to 2:00 and we’re going to take people through in groups. Take them through in groups of four or five.” I’ll tell you something. When they see each other, they pay more. Better for your seller.

Assistant 1: Tom Warner says, “Thoughts on social distancing and listing appointments.”

Anthony: Social distancing and listing appointments. My recommendation if you can is to do listing appointments over Zoom if you can. Again, until you meet the seller, until you see the home, you’re going to have a hard time converting that business and even properly advising them. The last thing that the surgeon general said this morning, Dr. Jerome Bennett, at the very, very end of the segment, he said, “Social distancing doesn’t mean social disengagement.” I thought that was smart because– and, again, I really feel that he was trying to almost pull back a little with the public because I think he feels that maybe people are getting a little too crazy. I’m in a room right now. Lindsay is 6 feet away from me. Cole is– I’m sorry, not Cole. Christine is 10 feet away from me and we’re still standing, at least now.

Assistant 1: Susan Koehler said, “Aw, thanks. I like your thoughts about don’t touch all the doors, et cetera. Use common sense. Wipe down all after. A group showing is a good idea, not on total wide open house.”

Anthony: Okay. Other questions?

Assistant 1: That is all we have right this second.

Anthony: Is that it? People are being shy.

Assistant 1: They are being shy.

Anthony: I got more texts and messages. You know what? I got a question. Let me look at one that I got messaged to me. I’ll answer this. Okay. A realtor friend, Mark, asked about dealing with deposit checks. He said some people are wiring money instead of going and passing the actual check. If you can do that, great. I know that our accounting department, they’re still dealing with checks and most people are still sending checks.

Assistant 1: Alesandra wrote, “I did a listing consult over FaceTime. The seller walked me through the house. It was great.”

Anthony: That’s awesome. Recommendation though, when you finish seeing the whole home and you start talking about signing them up, don’t just email or Dotloop or DocuSign the contract and go away. Stay engaged with them over Zoom. Go through the contract with them. When you let someone take a contract and run with it, they’re going to find the part they don’t like and obsess over it. You need to control the conversation.

Assistant 1: Mandy Pierce just wrote, “City of Worcester has just canceled all open houses.”

Anthony: Well, there you go. City of Worcester canceled all open houses. That’s exactly what I was saying half an hour ago. Until there’s a governmental body that says we can’t do something, then we’re stuck, right? We’re in a rock and a hard place. Worcester canceling, well, that’s their decision. I can’t say I– My recommendation would be to switch to block group showings. Again, as I said earlier, you’re bringing three or four people at a time. You’ve made the rest wait outside. You asked them not to touch everything in the home. Thank you for the update, Mandy.

Assistant 1: Bill McGowan asked, “Put covers over handles and signage?”

Anthony: Put covers over handles and signage. Okay. I’ll tell you guys something we switched to. We recommended to our realtors– and by the way, we have signage that we’re using on our open houses now. We told our realtors to ask for the name and write it down themselves. Don’t be leaving a signage sheet with a pen that everyone comes in and uses. Think about how clean we are as a society now. That’s the good that’s going to come out of this.

Assistant 1: I know. 

Anthony: I haven’t washed my hands this much in my life. It’s amazing.

Assistant 1: I don’t have to give a hug to someone. It’s not allowed today.

Anthony: Yes, you’re right. I’m really not a hugger, so that’s working out.

Assistant 1: We are caught up on questions. Come on, guys.

Anthony: We’re caught up on questions. All right. Good deal. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for tuning in. I hope this was helpful and I will be back to you likely to do this again next Wednesday as things change. Probably back to you with some videos in-between but wanted to do a more lengthy one. I’m really glad. I appreciate all of you that sent your questions in advance. We literally were able to clear up 10 and I thought that was great. See you guys soon. Good luck. We’re going to be fine. We’re going to get through this.