This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Jen Baca of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Jen at 703-826-5158 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.
Question: What is it like being a new agent during COVID-19?
Answer: COVID has changed how every business operates and real estate is no different. From virtual open houses to Zoom listing appointments, the real estate industry has pivoted quickly in order to sustain business.
I am no stranger to pivoting. In March, I was working for The Atlantic magazine in live events. With an MBA in marketing, I had spent the last 10 years working in live events and sales alongside executives across the Fortune 500.
When COVID hit, we had to pivot our entire business model to virtual events in a matter of days. We went from producing 150+ events a year across the globe to having only a handful of virtual events on the books. A few weeks later, 67 of my colleagues and I were laid off.
While some may look at being laid off as a setback, I quickly realized that this was the time I had been waiting for. I had been considering a move to real estate for years, but just never thought I’d have the time to do it while working full time. Now, all I had was time. I gave myself a day to feel sad with my former colleagues, but then I got to work.
Licensing classes were held via Zoom and I had to work a little harder to connect with my classmates. We exchanged phone numbers and started texting to host virtual study sessions. We made it a point to check in with each other, to send each other practice test questions and to cheer each other on. That has been one of the most surprising things about getting into real estate. Although all agents compete with each other, there is a real desire to see each other succeed. A rising tide lifts all boats.
When it came time to take my exam, I had to wash my hands and have my temperature taken before entering the room. We were spaced out in the testing room so I would not come in contact with others. And of course, we wore masks. I actually had a potential COVID exposure and had to change my exam date while I waited out my quarantine. I looked at this as just more time to study.
Once I passed my exam it was time to meet with brokerages. Most every brokerage I contacted held their interviews via Zoom. It was a little challenging trying to connect on a screen, but we have all learned to adapt. I think the best part of this new Zoom-life is the humility it has brought us all.
I did interviews with my 2-year-old listening to Baby Shark in the background. We no longer have to pretend that we’re not a mom, or a wife, or a dog owner. The lines are blurred because we have to be all of those things at the same time while we work! On camera!
But even after never meeting in person, I knew McEnearney was the right choice. They took time to listen to me, showed me that they heard my value and understood what I was looking for. And that is exactly how I treat my clients. I listen. I show them that I heard them. And I deliver on what was promised.
Starting a new job remotely has its own funny quirks. I saw the office for the first time three weeks in. My broker, my mentor and myself laughed when we discovered we were all very tall in real life! I have to stop myself from feeling guilty for sending 100 really annoying emails with basic questions because there is no one’s office that I can just pop-in to ask. But we’re all in this together and everyone has been so helpful throughout the process.
I’ve really leaned into what I came into real estate already knowing. I know how to market digitally so I’ve translated those skills into creating a strong digital presence. I know how to use social media to build a brand. As a trained opera singer, I know how to perform, especially on camera. I’ve leaned into video platforms to connect with buyers and sellers when we can’t be in person.
What better time to start a new business than a global pandemic?
If you’re looking for a high-tech agent and want to learn more about how McEnearney has pivoted during COVID to keep our buyers and sellers safe, reach out to me!
Jen Baca is a licensed REALTOR® with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Jen today at 703-828-5158 or visit her website JenBaca.com.
If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.
McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria