Bernice Ross

Amid the backdrop of the pandemic, tremendous disruption and the George Floyd protests, agents across America are getting their first look at what to expect in the “new normal.” Taking action on these emerging trends now will keep your business strong during the turbulent times ahead.  

From my personal perspective, we have moved through the “great pause” that characterized the country’s initial response to COVID-19 and now are in the midst of the “great reinvention.” If you’re ready to thrive in the midst of all the upheaval, here are some key trends to watch plus action steps to take for your business.  

Remember: To have the most up-to-date assessment of what is happening in your local market, watch for changes in the numbers of new listings hitting the market and the number of pending sales. When there are more pending sales than listings taken or if these two numbers are in parity, prospect for sellers. When there are more listings than pending sales, prospect for buyers.  


The pandemic forced most businesses to operate remotely. As the lockdowns lift, many owners and employees will be continuing to operate remotely. The current data is showing a trend towards “resuburbanization” where people trade the convenience of living downtown for more space and a less expensive lifestyle outside downtown metro areas. Here are three aspects of this trend that are coming up across the country:    

  • McMansions are making a comeback as more people create multi-generational households or merely need more space to accommodate working from home.  
  • Movement out of downtown communities to walkable areas in the close-in suburbs, small cities, and rural areas.  
  • A surge in second homes sales in areas located a two- to four-hour drive away from major metropolitan areas.  

To capitalize on this, become a referral agent. For example, if you work a downturn area, make sure you have good contacts in the suburbs with walkable areas and where there are McMansions suitable for multi-families or people officing at home. If you can’t help your clients find what they want, you can still earn a referral fee by referring your client to an agent who can help them.  

From Apartments to Houses 

Prior to the pandemic, many Millennials had little interest in owning a home, preferring travel and other types of experiences instead. The pandemic has flipped all this upside down – homeownership has now become a key priority among millennials.  

Matt Gardner, Seattle-based Windermere Real Estate’s chief economist, says their data shows rental prices in multi-family buildings are decreasing while single family rental prices are holding steady.  

In this environment, you should prospect high-end rental properties for first-time buyers. For example, create a postcard campaign that asks, Are you ready to stop paying your landlord’s mortgage and own your own home?” Don’t forget to get familiar with down payment assistance programs in your area and highlight them in your marketing campaigns. 

Dropping mortgage rates can also be a draw for these renters. Zillow top economist Skylar Olsen predicts that interest rates in 2021 may be as low as 2.5 percent. The irony is this has already happened. A few days ago, one my friends closed on a condo with an interest rate of 2.6 percent. 

Let your sphere and referral database know about today’s historically low rates. For those who show an interest, have a conversation with them about buying, selling, and/or refinancing.  

Small Brokerages Stressed 

Tami Bonnell, the CEO of EXIT Realty, shared a surprising statistic at a recent Inman Connect conference: 79 percent of the brokerages in America have six or fewer agents. Couple this fact with the current trend of providing one-stop-shopping where the entire real estate transaction happens seamlessly in one place, Bonnell believes there will be a major increase the number of mergers and acquisitions.   

If you own one of the 79 percent of brokerages with 6 or fewer agents, ask yourself: is it time to consider moving to a brokerage that would allow you and your agents to operate as a team within their brand and that provides all these services?   

With the economy under stress, this is also a good time to review your credit card bills for the last 12 months to identify all “automatic renewals” of services. If you are not using that service or product, cancel it. Also, follow the 80-20 rule. Focus your time and spend your money on the top 20 percent of the activities that generate 80 percent of your business. Lop off the bottom 20 percent that contributes only about one percent to your bottom line.  

You currently have a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself and create the business you want in the “new normal.” Use these trends and action steps to guide your decision-making. When you see the results, you’ll be glad you did. 

Bernice Ross is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, trainer and speaker on real estate topics. She can be reached at  

Hot Real Estate Trends for the New Normal

by Bernice Ross time to read: 3 min