My job as a broker is very hands-on and in-person typically. It is funny to think about it now but one of the go-to positive self-describing attributes of a top broker is being “high touch.” How do you go about being high touch in a world where you cannot touch?!
I am reading so many stories of how people are facilitating buying/selling/leasing, negotiating, moving, contracting, and the hurdles that are thrown in front of them right now and wanted to share a story of our own.
We recently put on the market a two bedroom for rent in a luxury condominium downtown, just prior to the crisis. The owner lives in China and during our talks of pricing, was in the peak of the coronavirus crisis there and was blunt about the seriousness of the situation. In retrospect, I should have listened more closely to him about the difficulties we would face-- but he and I both did not envision New York being hit nearly as hard as it has been.
We listed it and were able to show freely for about two weeks, before the shutdown began. We had an offer that was well under our asking price, but as we grew to grasp where the crisis would land, we realized it had a very attractive attribute: the client already lived in the building. I worked with the owner and understood that although the offer was far less than what he had initially wanted, being able to work with someone moving within the building would be crucial when we didn’t know when the city would reopen. We took the offer (a good 20% under ask) and entered into a lease.
Then, stricter regulations came.
Need to paint the apartment? No contractors can work.
Need to move things? Movers must be specifically approved and have full PPE.
Need to get a document notarized? Good luck finding one!
Have questions about new regulations? With the management company dispersed and working from home, getting answers was increasingly difficult, or there were none.
So everything was done virtually or from afar, or using resources in the building:
- Luckily, a fantastic and life-saving super offered to paint the apartment.
- Documents were mailed, virtually signed, and money was wired.
- We had the building approve cleaners.
- Movers were approved with proper notice, preparation and protective gear.
For a deal where I am typically extremely present, I never once saw the tenant, painter, cleaner, or mover in person. But the apartment was ready for move-in and will smoothly have the lease begin, all during the height of shelter-in-place.