Howard W. “Hoby” Hanna, IV, President of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, recently discussed his predictions for the future of the housing market with Inman, the industry’s leading source of real estate information. During a lengthy interview, he also addressed Howard Hanna’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, Inman’s interview focused on the current state of housing sales.
When asked for an overview of what business has looked like during the pandemic, Hoby reported that the majority of real estate deals written prior to stay-at-home orders being implemented are successfully closing. Looking to the future, however, it’s difficult to know exactly how company sales and listings overall will be impacted.
“We think that listings will be down, but that really differentiates by state,” according to Hoby. In “States where the practice of real estate has been deemed essential, there’s definitely a drop off in a slowdown and they’re probably at 50 percent of new inventory being brought on.
Markets where real estate is deemed nonessential are currently seeing a minimal amount of new listings. However, business hasn’t stopped in these areas. It’s just shifted, as agents work on putting their inventory in place and get listing contracts signed.
“There’s sort of more of a strategy of, like in New York they’re trying to time market dates to May 15, because that’s the date the Governor extended the pause until and if they have to extend, they can extend,” Hoby explained about these preparations.
The Inman article also spent time analyzing what the real estate market might look like as stay-at-home orders begin to end.
When asked about his predictions for the housing market long-term, Hoby stated that he thinks there will be a “slow V curve” in increased interest and activity moving forward:
There might be people who they want to buy, they feel secure financially, but they’re just not ready to jump into the market yet out of safety concerns or health concerns. Between some of the economic factors and some psychological, I think we’ll see an uptick, definitely, but I think it’s gonna be until the end of the third quarter and fourth quarter until we see activity getting as close as it was last year in that period.
As the industry waits for stay-at-home orders to be lifted, Howard Hanna has focused much of its time and energy on its real estate team, working to advise agents on best practices for their health and business.
Currently, Howard Hanna is releasing educational resources and guidelines focused on helping agents adjust to managing workflows in their households. Regular office meetings, training programs, and information on how to communicate with buyers and sellers are all being used to help agents work to grow their business long-term.
The company also extended its Income Advantage program deadline so that agents could apply to receive an advance on their commissions. Roughly 500 eligible agents enrolled in the program as a result of the extension.
Another major focus of the interview was how the pandemic will affect industry operations long-term, as expectations shift among employers, agents, sellers and buyers.
Looking to the future, Hoby believes that all real estate businesses and brokerages will need to analyze their tools and capabilities. Technology to support real estate listings, deals, and communication alike will be essential for both large and small firms as home selling evolves:
One thing that will change is how the process of selling a home takes place. Agents will still be at the center, but I can see the consumer, now with people being more comfortable with using video and sharing services like Zoom or Microsoft Teams or other platforms that are out there, coupled with what technology companies have, I think you might see more business done virtually.
Hoby also described his predictions for the evolution of the industry, which will need to embrace changes to enhance new home selling capabilities:
We’ve invested a tremendous amount of money over the last five years in our tech stack, to support our agents, to support our customers, to do more virtual marketing, moving more things online, the ability to work remotely. Under this market presence, we’ve seen greater adoption of all those technology tools and the ability to work that way.
I think agents will still work in their traditional capacity, but they’re going to need that backbone, the structure of the real estate company. I think there’s a lot of companies that haven’t invested that technology stack to make things easier.
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