For real estate agents Josh Rainwater and Kim Vining, 2020 started out to be a record-breaking year. In the first two and a half months of this year, the duo had sold more than double the number of homes as they had in that time in 2019.
Then came the restrictions over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, with government officials urging citizens to practice “social distancing” and limiting the size of any public gathering to no more than 10 people.
Such restraints might seem a sure way to turn a winning streak into a losing proposition. Yet, for Rainwater and Vining, agents with Coldwell Banker Tulsa, the past few weeks have been almost business as usual.
“I have five closings coming up, and Kim has four,” Rainwater said. “The fact of the matter is, the real estate market doesn’t stop. We’ve just had to become more creative in how we do what we do.”
The open house, a longtime staple of the trade, has had to become a live-streamed virtual tour, Vining said.
“We’re about to answer a client’s questions in real time, to take measurements for them, show specific areas,” she said. “It’s just a way of serving our clients while being cautious about everyone’s health.”
Rainwater said it is also possible to handle almost every aspect of the house-buying process, from viewing potential homes to signing the contracts, digitally. Most of the agents that have offices in this particular Coldwell Banker location are working from their homes, including Vining.
“Some of this, like doing the online open house, is very new to us,” Vining said. “But I have a feeling this could probably become the new normal for the industry. It’s easy to think, ‘But we’ve always done it this way.’ Maybe we really need to ask ‘Do we have to do it that way?’ ”
Rainwater said one main reason 2020 home sales have been so strong is because of low interest rates, which he said are at an all-time low, which can save potential buyers thousands of dollars.
“Also inventory is relatively low,” he said. “Most of the houses we have sold have been for about 98 percent of the listed price. And in this current situation, if people are willing to get out and look for a house, they are intent on buying.
Vining added, “If people aren’t serious about buying, they’re not out there shopping.”