Crisis Demands Compassion Mixed With Innovation

April 07, 2020

There are so many people we’re praying for.

All the sick. Their families that can’t be with them. The medical workers on the front line.

Those whose jobs have been lost. The businesses that are feeling the sting. And our leaders as they pilot a course they never dreamed would be laid at their feet.

We are offering help to those who need it, and we will do all we are able.

My husband, Adam, left the banking world to come help grow The Amy Stockberger Team in 2009 right about the time the mortgage crisis hit South Dakota. The Sioux Empire, of course, did not take the hit nearly has hard as the rest of the nation, but with the absence of a reliable income, the responsibility of employees and a small kiddo at home, we felt the pressure. More times than I can tally, we would look at each other, exhausted after a long day that rolled into the evening and know what the other was thinking: “What in the heck did we do?”

That time stretched us, and we had to pivot. We tried new things, missed the mark countless times, tried more new things, failed again but kept trying. We grew from it because we didn’t have any other option. Quitting wasn’t on the table.

Our new COVID-19 world has brought the same uneasy feelings and strains but with the added twist of sickness thrown in. Fear is among us and trying dreadfully hard to squeeze into every nook and cranny allowed. We are being stretched, so we have only one option: to pivot.

Now is the time to be a better human than we ever have been. To take mental stock of what we are grateful for each day and voice it. To keep our minds and bodies healthy and moving. To drink more water. To eat more veggies. To get more sleep. To spread more sunshine than gloom. To give back as much as we possibly can. To try new things. It is the time to pivot.

One of our first pivots at Amy Stockberger Real Estate was to start our Virtual Open House weekends, and we wanted to give back to our community at the same time.

So we contacted local businesses to buy gift cards in order to help them out. And then we added a scavenger hunt game within the tours, which provided a game for consumers while being quarantined. Then we gave away gift cards for those who played. The response was phenomenal.

This weekend, we are kicking off our biggest giveaway yet for our Virtual Open House Weekend. We have partnered with Escape 605 to increase our reach and creative gaming. It has an Amazing Race concept with the goal of getting as many local businesses exposure as well as eyeballs on our listings.

We will be giving extra points again for positive online reviews given to the companies – an effort to get them more business, of course. There will be riddles about our amazing city and different detours to keep consumers entertained. Prizes will be drawn for gift cards we purchase through local businesses and then a charity give back to at the end.

We have done virtual showings of homes for years; we just had to step up our game and offer multiple platforms for live virtual interaction.

We have virtualized the entire home listing process, making it easier and safer for clients and our agents and staff. We pivoted to Virtual Home Buying Webinars and are starting seller and investor webinars as well. I am certain the way we do business in our industry will be forever changed, perhaps for the better.

We are hearing the dreaded “recession” word a lot right now. During the mortgage crisis, Sioux Falls rebounded extremely well,  unlike many other cities, thanks to our insulated economy. As published on SiouxFalls.Business a few weeks ago, SmartAsset has Sioux Falls in the top 10 recession-resistant cities in the nation. Recession doesn’t equal a housing crisis. In three of the past five U.S. recessions, home prices and values increased. Home ownership is one of the best investments you can make as it increases in value when other sections are spiraling downward.

Goldman Sachs is predicting the steep surge the U.S. has ever seen will occur in the third quarter. Real estate has always been a driving force for the economy, and there are predictions that the real estate market will be one of the first runners in our uptick. It is estimated that every home sold employs or puts to work 27 other people in that transaction.

A constant question a REALTOR® is asked is: “When is the best time to sell/buy a home?” While there are often seasonal shifts during certain times in the year, of course, the resounding answer should always be “now.” People need to buy and sell homes during all seasons. When there is a life change, there is a usually a housing need. Getting married, getting divorced, having a baby, having another baby, having the baby go to college, a promotion, a loss of a job, a retirement. Life changes do not follow a specific season; they just happen. Housing is essential.

For almost 50 years, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has followed the 10-year Treasury rate. This has changed in the past few weeks, so rates could go even lower, according to Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American Financial Corp. This influences homebuying decisions too.

Real estate is a service business. We would be doing our buyer clients and the public in general a disservice if we did not let them know of the low interest rates and the possible future of rates. If the economists are right and we see an ultra-swift rebound, interest rates will increase just as quickly. The Realtor Association of the Sioux Empire Inc. reported a decrease of more than 19 percent in inventory for March from the previous year. That, compounded with the fact that the median price increased more than 8 percent year to date, makes for a beautiful climate for sellers. Those are key points the public needs to know.

COVID-19 will forever be a term we will not forget. It will change the way we interact with each other, conduct business, treat each other and our community. It will continue to challenge us to become better versions of ourselves and our businesses.

I have no doubt as we continue to pivot and try new things within every dynamic new world, we will experience failure and success in equaling amounts. The key is the courage to keep failing so you can succeed. One of my dad’s favorite sayings from Winston Churchill is: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” We all need to have that courage more than ever. Sioux Falls is built on people with that courage.

God bless and stay safe, friends.

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