While the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted most businesses and industries, experts from Long Island real estate companies said in a Blank Slate Media virtual forum that they have been having a banner year in terms of revenue from clients purchasing or selling homes over the past eight months.
Featured on the panel last Thursday were Anthony Piscopio, a senior executive manager of sales for the North Shore of Nassau County and real estate broker for Douglas Elliman, Deborah Tintle Hauser, chief operating officer and real estate broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, Phil Raices, president and CEO of Turn Key Real Estate, and Dennis McCarthy, the senior managing director for Compass Realty.
Piscopio said it was initially surprising to see how many homes were selling throughout Nassau County and said the demand for homes in close proximity to New York City has been one of the driving factors.
“We did sell a good amount of homes. It was actually pretty surprising at first to see how many we alone sold,” Piscopio said. “The demand has been incredible. It’s been nonstop multiple bids for certain price ranges and locations throughout Long Island. Once January hits, it’s going to ramp up again.”
Piscopio also mentioned one of the initial challenges that real estate agents had to get used to was the enhanced amount of technology that now goes into showing a home. Without in-person tours, Piscopio said, the challenges became advantages once agents were comfortable conducting virtual tours of homes for potential buyers.
Hauser and McCarthy agreed.
“Consumers want everything to be easy like the Amazon effect,” Hauser said. In a COVID-19 world, “homeowners don’t always want people tracing through their homes just to look. Consumers demanded us to be better, and in some ways, this awful experience has made us better as an industry.”
“Compass has been tech-driven, but everyone knows you need to be more tech-savvy than ever before in the market,” McCarthy said. “In our case, everyone is adapting to tech seamlessly, but every agency needs to embrace technology.”
McCarthy also said the number of “home office” searches on the internet has increased so much that real estate agents have begun to incorporate those keywords into their listings.
Raices, a featured columnist for Blank Slate Media, did not dispute the others’ points on the importance of technology but offered another suggestion of how agencies can thrive in a world with or without the coronavirus.
“The internet has leveled the playing field for everyone,” Raices said. “Because of that, it’s not just about the company or the resources they have, it is about the person helping you throughout the process.”
Raices, based on his research, said he estimates that around 400,000 people are looking to leave New York City and hopes that people remain smart and upgrade to homes that have been on the market but haven’t sold yet.
“I’m the most optimistic person you’ll meet, but what about the 20 million people that will be unemployed for the long term,” Raices said. “For the 5 to 10 percent of us doing real estate on Long Island, this is a great market.”
Hauser and McCarthy touted the resiliency and strength of New Yorkers and disagreed with Raices’ claim that people wanted to move out of the New York City area.
“When we wake up from this hangover, we’re not sure what it will look like,” Hauser admitted. “But as long as people who have a home to sell have a place to go, New York will never die.”
“New York suffered tremendously [at the beginning of the pandemic],” McCarthy said. “As it went out east, it did get a little better. The Long Island market carried us through the pandemic when other branches of Compass around the city were bringing in 0 income, but we will have good ingredients to thrive all around in New York in 2021.”
According to October statistics from OneKey MLS, a multiple listing service that includes Long Island real estate statistics, the median sale price for homes increased year-over-year by 9.3 percent to $590,0000 in Nassau County. Nassau home prices set a record high of $595,000 in August, according to statistics.
The number of home sales jumped in Nassau by 16 percent from the previous year, with the number of homes going into contract up 65 percent in the county over the last year.
While the real estate officials said their agents took advantage of a hot market paired with uncertainty, every person should know what to look for in a reliable agent and company to help navigate them through an already-daunting process, COVID-19 aside.
“It’s not a bad idea to ask for a recommendation from people you trust,” Hauser said. “It’s how you find your doctor, your dentist. Not a bad thing for people to consider.”
“Agents have to come to potential clients as a professional,” McCarthy added. “They need to show people they’re not just a local expert on where to eat or what’s nearby. Have an attorney? Here’s three you can call. It’s about finding someone who can put you with other colleagues they trust.”
“Rolling out all the technology is great,” Piscopio said. “But you need that business with a handshake. If you look at top agents, they still do new business, but in an old-fashioned way. Not everyone will do business that way, but we all must embrace the technology without forgetting how to interact with a client.”
“You need the rapport in the relationships you cultivate,” Raices said. “I could have a Ferrari, but if it ain’t tuned, it’s not going anywhere. You should be asking them what they want or what their needs are because there’s a difference. You ask them to paint you a complete picture.”
To view the forum in its entirety, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7fADHUIzW4&t=3003s.