Today, would have been my father's 90th birthday. Sadly, we lost him right before Thanksgiving, just six months shy of a nine-decade milestone. In place of throwing a BIG gala as Dad had requested (Harry always loved a party - especially one in his honor), my siblings, our mother, his grandchildren AND great grandchildren had made plans to meet at the AIDS Grove in San Francisco this weekend to celebrate his life, along with the many friends he'd made during his last two decades volunteering there . . . . Clearly, in the time of Coronavirus, that's not happening.
Instead, we'll likely set up a Zoom meeting and reminisce online until such time as we can meet in "The Circle of Friends," and hold hands once more as we give thanks and say a small prayer in honor of all that's been sacrificed. Granted, those hands may be gloved, but I've no doubt that family and friends will eventually (and physically) reach out to one another in times of sorrow, pain, joy, or uncertainty once the fear of further contamination and spread begin to recede in earnest.
Absent a vaccination, "social distancing" has become the new norm, even as our state moves into Phase 2 of reopening. And because it's unclear how all of this ultimately plays out, navigating the journey has become a moving target - to say the least. In short, we're all learning to "pivot." As my Broker astutely noted; "'Pivot' is the new word for 2020!" And so it is, or put another way: "How now brown cow?"
How are Jill, Sarah, and I 'pivoting?' We're doing everything that's legally permissible and trying to find some levity along the way. Last week, Sarah and I shot a video poking fun at the new regulations now tying our hands (our feet, our arms, and our legs). To no one's surprise, OSHA has come on board with a wave of restrictions that treat our listings as if they were Tyson Chicken Factories. The upshot being that the way we show houses and how we may conduct business has gotten that much harder (and it was already extremely difficult without this extra layer of regulation.) From rules around brochures (NO paper of any kind allowed) to mandates about not touching anything (Let me get those lights for you), to how many people can be in a house at a time (no more than two along with their Agent), we're racing just to keep up. It's frustrating to be sure and it's certainly no fun, but it's the law, so there's no skirting the rules. (I've given it my best shot.)
Couldn't we . . . ? (No!)
Shouldn't we . . . ? (No!)
How about if we . . . (No, no, no and NO!)
Alright already; message received. As a result, yesterday morning, I dutifully lined up outside of Target at 8:00 am (mask on) to purchase a container of Clorox wipes (only one per person), several bottles of soap (no limit there) and a bottle of hand sanitizer - all now required at every listing. With new rules requiring interiors to be wiped down and sanitized after every showing, those of us who sell homes will be both maid AND Agent for the time being as we 'pivot' to meet the new laws, while doing our best NOT to lose sight of our clients' goals and needs.
Gratefully (and I am grateful to be working) the task of selling homes has been considered "essential" throughout the lockdown. In no small part due to the fact that cities and counties rely on the millions of dollars in transfer taxes that fund the public coffers. Let's be clear, the number of industries that serve the business of real estate include everything from builders, to lenders, to insurance companies, to title companies, to movers, to painters, to stagers, to window washers, to housekeepers, to gardeners, to caterers, etc., etc., etc., which contributed more than $2.7 TRILLION to the U.S. economy in 2018, or about 13% of GDP. (Here in Piedmont, I gotta believe the transfer taxes account for a much higher percentage of the budget.) With sales volume down more than 40% this year, cuts to city, county, and social services are certainly going to be deep, requiring everyone to 'pivot' around the unwelcome changes that are bound to follow. (I don't envy our elected officials.)
How is COMPASS 'pivoting?' The brain trust behind COMPASS is introducing all kinds of new product designed to meet the ever-evolving needs of our new "virtual" realities and because COMPASS was founded on the idea of merging high-tech with high-touch, it's using this Shelter-in-Place opportunity to innovate and design more advanced ways to help us navigate this strange new world. Look for all kinds of announcements in the coming weeks and months as we adapt to these emerging tools that create innovative platforms and new ideas to help us sell homes - in spite of every hurdle that's been placed in our paths. if nothing else, SIP is forcing us all to become more adept online and forcing us to 'pivot' more often and more rapidly.
How now brown cow?
Pull up a stool, we're just getting started. MOO! (And happy birthday, daddy, wherever you are.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.