Hard times be they natural disasters like hurricanes and fires or man-made disasters like the Las Vegas tragedy, are part of life. How we deal with each other during such hard times offers us a glimpse into our individual and collective character.
Certainly, the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico qualify as natural disasters. Focusing on the real estate industry, how brokers and agents support each other during the onset and aftermath of disasters speaks to the very crux of broker/agent/client relationships
An acronym to keep in mind during times of chaos is KEEP.
“K” = kindness
“E” – engagement
“E” = empathy
“P” = patience
The ore loss and damage caused by disasters to homes and their people, the more kindness we need to communicate to one another. Clients may be dealing with the loss or devastation of their existing home, their home under contract to buy or their home under contract to sell. Agents and brokers may be dealing with such loss or devastation as well.
An element of kindness is honesty. Agents must honestly tell buyers and sellers that homes under pending contracts during natural disasters must be re-negotiated and re-inspected. Agents must tell sellers whose homes are under contract that any damage and/or loss to roofs or fences (not trees, though) covered under a pending contract must be repaired and/or replaced by the seller.
Brokers and agents must become engaged with one another and with their clients as soon as possible during chaotic times. Hiding underneath the covers doesn’t work. Reach out to one another immediately. Ask if they, their family members, friends are all right. A simple “yes” or “no” is definitely enough. Ask if they need anything…food, clothing…water…and get it to them.
And stay engaged. Know that simply being a presence in and for someone else’s life is being engaged even when there is only silence among you.
Be and/or become empathic. Someone else’s damaged or lost home is not about you. It’s about them. If you as the agent or broker have similar damages/losses, engage with someone other than the client. Likely the client has more than enough to deal with…hearing about your damages/losses may be more than they can and/or want to handle.
Be patient. Know that some people may have to say the same thing or hear the same thing over and over again before that “thing” can register in their brains.
Agents certainly know what to do and say during a disaster and its aftermath but that agent’s broker can help them organize and prioritize the agent’s responses to their clients. Brokers can help agents be mentally prepared for as well as realistic about client demands put to them. And brokers can definitely remind their agents how confident he/she is in their abilities to handle specific situations with and for specific clients.
Planning for future disasters, brokers and agents together can draft a natural disaster plan for the brokerage firm. Additionally, brokers can organize, promote and execute annual seminars in disaster preparedness in the event of a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or fire.
How one prepares for a man-made disaster such as what happened in Columbine or Las Vegas is much beyond the scope of this article.