Adapt and Survive: RE Agents and The Pandemic

Adapt and Survive: RE Agents and The Pandemic

How Agents are Adapting to the Pandemic.

The one most adaptable to change is the one that survives. This concept made famous by Charles Darwin is playing out daily in all industries given the pandemic. To adapt means to take the change in your environment and find a way to thrive in it. Adaptation is the strongest trait for survival.

In our previous posts, we have been following the impact of the pandemic on Real Estate. Using extensive research, we have tried to predict some outcomes for the RE Industry.  We have looked at the state of mortgage applications, and have explored the idea of having the RE Industry grow into a digital one. As a follow up, we wanted to see and survey how agents throughout the United States were doing with regard to the pandemic. We wanted to get a look at how those with their “boots on the ground” have navigated the muck of a post-COVID-19 world.

In this post and our next post, we will be looking to multiple agents to gain a first hand account and report at how they are adapting to the changes within their marketplace. As we stated previously, much of the economy depends upon the Real Estate Industry. Its an integral component and litmus test for the overall health of the economy. Checking in with individuals whose livelihood is directly impacted by this shift is a cross-section worth examining.

Brace For Impact

Regardless of where you are located in the United States, it seems that April was a slower month than normal for Real Estate. From New York to Idaho to California, sales have decreased. For some, that decrease was more acute and intense. For many East Coast states, “stay at home” orders were given earlier on as the disease ravaged their more densely populated cities. Agents in the New York City, Boston, Philadelphia metro-areas felt a sudden slam on the breaks of an otherwise speeding train- the spring Real Estate season.

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Initial Impact for Agents – The Need to Adapt

Frank Muccari, an Agent at Cronin &Company Real Estate, said that the initial impact was that of “Shock and Awe.” “It was a literal light switch. All forward momentum stopped for about a week,” said Muccari. Many Agents all over the East Coast experienced what felt like a complete halt in all RE activity. Speaking to Arthur Deych, an Agent at Red Tree Real Estate in Boston, put some of that experience into perspective. Deych stated that “people’s fear of losing their jobs… and independent business owners’ experiences of having future business cancel out for the next four months have caused  people to not want to take the burden of such a large loan.” Many, even those that had already toured homes and planned moves, have left money on the table Deych explained. Agents understand and are experiencing on a micro and macro level the domino effect of this world-wide crisis. COVID-19 has “impacted everyone’s daily routines, priorities, economic position, family relationships as well as our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. As for our business it’s made us have to rethink why and how we do everything,” says Virginia Corbett, a NYS Realtor with RE/MAX.

Although the East Coast and California have experienced what felt like complete stops to activity, other states with looser regulations have not. They have, however, still experienced a decrease in activity. In places like Boise, Idaho, a stay-at-home order was issued on March 25th. However, Real Estate Professionals made the initial “Essential” list, unlike many Realtor Counterparts of East Coast states. According to Lisa Kohl, a Realtor in Boise, Idaho with Keller Williams Realty, ” we have seen a roughly 10% decline in demand and new listings in the past month when compared to previous years. The two factors essentially canceling each other out with supply slightly lower than last April.We are also seeing a number of homes come back on the market and canceled listings, which is to be expected when it is difficult to even get to closing.”

Although there is a decrease, states in the midwest are still, for the most part, allowing for tours to happen within properties. This is sharply different from many East and West Coast cities that are more densely populated  where Agents have been deemed “non-essential” by their governors. For Philadelphia Agents like Marilee Wolf of BHHS Fox & Roach Realty, the reality of being “Non-Essential” has a deeply negative impact on “everyday people.” Many need to move for “compelling reasons,” says Wolf. She adds, “there are families out there who are facing homelessness if they can’t buy a home or dire financial consequences if they don’t sell their home.” In places like Philadelphia, many are opposing this non-essential status citing that “food, air, food, and shelter” are all essentials for maintaining life. On top of having to navigate the shifts in business, Agents are also having to lobby for their right to do their jobs.

Signs of Life – Starting to Adapt

After the initial “Shock and Awe,” that many states experienced, there were signs of life. In New York, Muccari stated that about “ten days in [to the stay-at-home order], I started to see sprouts of life that gave me encouragement.” Like many agents and everyday people, the initial halt of activity gave way to people peeking out of their shelters and looking to push forward with their lives. The hairiness of how to navigate this new world is still shaky for some, but the desire is there. Muccari continues, “Is it business as usual? No, but creatively deals are getting done.”

As we stated in our previous blog, many in Real Estate are finally embracing using digital tools. This is a major shift within this industry as much of the process has been analog. Many feel as though they have to and should in order to continue to provide for themselves, their employees, and the overall economy. The way that Viriginia Corbett sees it is that she has an “obligation to do everything… to keep moving forward and generating economic activity.” She cites the idea that, “every real estate transaction keeps many people employed.” Considering all of those other businesses associated with the buying and selling of homes, one transaction moves economic activity for many professions.

Even though there has been a downturn in business, people are continuing to property hunt. Due to low inventory and the need to move during this time, the “demand is still there,” says Deych. “Boston is still very competitive. People are getting into bidding wars” he says. In Philadelphia, too, “more than ever buyer demand is greater than the supply of houses on the market,” says Wolf. She continues, “We have what is called a “coming soon” status so that houses can be promoted before going on the market. Used to be that everyone waited until the house went active to make their offers; now houses are selling before they go even go active. Agents really have to stay sharp and on their game to keep up with it.”

Similarly in Idaho, according to Kohl, “Despite everything that is happening in the world, the Boise area real estate market has been strong, surprisingly so. Prices are hitting record highs, new listings are seeing multiple offers, there are waiting lists to view the most desirable properties, and homes are selling in half the time they were even a month ago.” Prices are still stable in all places and have gone up in others, which is reassuring and similar to the SARS pandemic, as well. In places like California, “home buyers in Los Angeles and Orange counties signed sales contracts for nearly 60% fewer homes than the same period last year.” Even though there is a decrease in activity, overall, there are signs of life still in the RE Industry. Agents are figuring out ways to adapt, go virtual, and close deals.

Areas of Concern

Areas of Concern for Agents

Real Estate is, for the most part, a people business. When people cannot actually interact with others, it poses an issue for that business. For many agents, having that human contact, the ability to negotiate in person, is essential. For power Agents like Frank Muccari, the “service is the human interaction” and that is where he truly “makes [his] mark.” Additionally, there is a challenge of not being able to be inside of the homes, which “can be valued from afar.” However, they truly need to be felt and seen to fully grasp the value for Muccari. Not being able to go into people’s space is a concern.That idea of having to keep your distance from the space you are selling is very ironic and is also impacting Boston Agent, Arthur Deych. Deych, with a newly pregnant wife, is also trying his best to limit any home showings to vacant properties. Agents want to respect the homeowners, buyers, renters, and themselves in addition to the greater world. It’s not an easy space to navigate, for sure. For Agents in Philadelphia, vacant properties can not even be shown due to government restrictions. Marilee Wolf is trying her best to keep a long term, positive spirit whilst not compromising ethics for short term gains given the restrictions. Wolf stated that some agents are violating local laws, but that it is more important for her to keep her “reputations clean for the long term.” Many Agents nationwide are in precarious positions such as this where their livelihood challenges the current law and they are having to reinvent themselves and the profession.

Areas of Concern for Clients

All agents are in agreement and are surprised that many sales are happening at all without clients going into the homes they are buying. Being such a client-centered business, Agents are concerned for their client’s health and well-being on top of them being able to get into proper shelter. Even though sales are happening, some clients are having a harder time than others accepting the new way of buying and selling. Frank Muccari stated that where the experience is “truly taking a windy road is in the showings department. Sellers are struggling with who, if anyone, to let in. Buyers are having to choose if they wish to make one of the largest purchases of their life by watching a video.” Similar to Muccari, Corbett also cites the lack of in-person showings has both buyers and sellers skeptical to proceed with transactions. However, it seems that he very limited inventory is acting as a catalyst for buyers to make that leap of faith. To the end of clients learning the new normal, each state varies. For Pennsylvania and other states, many clients are confused about if they are allowed to tour homes, how offers work now, etc. For Wolf, a lot of “over communication” is required with her clients to “keep them up to date on what is and is not permitted.” Deych states that his clients are now, more than ever, looking to him for sound advice. They “want my confidence” as they are looking for someone to give them strength “with their decisions.”


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Adaptations Amidst Pandemic

For many agents nationwide, the shift to completely virtual was not too difficult. For Muccari, a very technology forward Realtor, it was pretty seamless. Muccari had always been a proponent of things like DocuSign and video conferences. He also always has used “professional photography, which truly helps show the home in its best most complete light.” So, for him, it has been business as usual in that department. Although there have been “inconveniences,” they have not been impossible to navigate.” Nationwide, Agents are happy if they have made investments in good digital tools and equipment as they are keeping them competitive during this challenging time.

Similarly, Virginia Corbett, made the adaptations happen quickly. Her team continues to “develop and refine Virtual Home Selling and Virtual Home Buying Solutions.” This includes many types of virtual consultations, showings, live stream open houses, and more. Virginia states she spends most of her “day on the phone, email, text, FaceBook messenger and Zoom talking to people.” If Agents were not already attached to their devices, it seems as though now they have completely committed relationships with them. Agents are clocking as many as sixteen hours a day on their screens finding ways to connect with clients, get listings, and complete deals.

Arthur Deych and his team at Red Tree Real Estate also adapted very quickly to the new normal. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, they spent a bit of time making sure they had everything in their portfolio turned into virtual tours. They even gave tenants incentives ($100 gift cards) to make quality videos to showcase apartments.” These videos feature current tenants showcasing the apartment, explaining to new renters why the property has served them well, and even can include person edits with music. Its been incredibly successful for Deych in his teaming, securing over $200,000 in first months rent for his clients.

For Marilee Wolf, too, using these modalities are commonplace for her. She has been doing Zoom and Facetime tours for years since she works with a lot of out-of-state buyers. Another point Wolf brings up is how Agents should appear while doing these types of presentations. “I look polished, calm, and in control,” states Wolf. “The last thing someone wants to see is that the person selling their house looks like they’ve been hiding under the bed for a month.” For many people being stuck at home means to get lax in the personal grooming department. But, Wolf wants to send a message that she is working hard for her clients. Wolf also has enjoyed staying in closer contact with clients through sending a “video text message or a BombBomb video email.” By people seeing a personal greeting, “it makes a nice connection.”

Adapt and Ye Shall Succeed

In adapting to these new times, all Agents that are progressing forward are ensuring that they are maintaining connections by any means necessary. In our next article, we will explore the advice of four of the agents from the above article in this current market. We want to know what they want to tell our readers as a main takeaway for these current times. Be sure to check the next article that will be linked here when its published.

Advice From Agents During the Pandemic

Advice From Agents During the Pandemic

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “the only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” And luckily, in this article, we are going to visit with four agents to highlight what advice they have for other RE Agents during this uncertain time.

In our previous article, Adapt and Survive: RE Agents and the Pandemic, we highlighted agents from multiple states to show how the Housing Market was in their area and how they were experiencing and adapting to the pandemic. We are featuring four of those insightful and helpful agents below.


Marilee Wolf

Marilee Wolf is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Fox & Roach Realtors. According to her webpage, Wolf has 15 successful years of experience helping her clients buy and sell all types of residential properties from South Philadelphia to Chester County and everywhere in between. Her sterling reputation high level of ethics negotiating experience and no-pressure approach have won her recognition awards and referrals year after year.

Marilee Wolf’s Advice

Marilee Wolf


Marilee says that “this is not the time to launch that marketing campaign that is all about what a great agent you are.   Be really mindful right now of your content.   Get on the phone with everyone in your database with a call or a text to just ask how they are doing and DO NOT bring up real estate.   Go onto FB with videos or content that is helpful and sensitive to our times, not just with your new listing or just sold photos.   Any efforts you put into relationship building or community outreach right now will be remembered later in the form of referrals and business…. As long as it is sincere.  



Arthur Deych

Arthur Deych has been in Real Estate since 2005. He is the proud owner of Red Tree Real Estate in Coolidge Corner. Deych is a developer of property, seasoned broker and property manager with extensive experience in investment properties with over twenty five agents working on his team. Deych has won many awards and recognitions and continues to grow his business year after year.

Arthur Deych’s Advice

“This is the best time ever for Agents to work on their sphere of influence. Go back to what makes you your strongest agent.  Hit the phones. Do not sell to people. See where you can bring people value.

You have to consider that a lot of people have been stuck in their homes for a long time. People will start a project or realize they don’t like some aspect of their house. Have someone you can hook them up with. Use your resources: the contractors, plumbers, other service providers. Make good connections. No one is asking for restaurants, no one is asking for vacation spots. Know where they should go on a hike, know about the attorney to speak to about wills/trusts, know who is a good a painter. Create and maintain good connections. Bring value to people. “

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Virginia Corbett

With twenty years experience on Wall Street in Communications, Marketing and Event Planning, Virginia Corbett brings an unsurpassed level of attention to detail, marketing savvy, negotiation skills and dedication to personal service into every client relationship.Virginia is an Agent with RE/MAX Town & Country with a deep love for helping others achieve their Real Estate goals.

Virginia Corbett’s Advice

Virginia Corbett


I had a real shift in my thinking about a week into the Non Essential Worker Shelter in Place Order.  Up until then I was trying to figure out how I could hold things together until everything got “back to normal.” It then hit me that things are never going “back to normal,” not completely. I asked myself, “what if this is the way we have to work for many months or years, what would I do?”   From that moment I went all in on reshaping our business to operate as robustly as possible in the current environment.  So I would challenge every agent to ask themselves that same question, and I would be happy to talk to any agents out there that are struggling in their business about how to make that shift.”



Frank Muccari

Frank Muccari of Cronin and Company Real Estate is a passionate Agent with tons of business and negotiating experience. Muccari is an entrepreneur-turned-Agent with a network of professional contacts throughout many industries. Muccari loves the range of experiences that Real Estate has to offer including the thrill of the hunt to helping his clients find whatever it is they need. His quick growth and leadership within the industry has put him on a short list of Agents to watch.


Frank Muccari’s Advice


“Don’t give up, but at the same time do not over commercialize yourself right now. It is quite apparent that many are hurting financially and or emotionally from losing a loved one. I said this very early on, over advertising right now would backfire on the aggressive agent. Be there for your clients make yourself available for new clients things will return to normal over time. Our market will explode when the time is right. My prediction is values will climb over the next 12-24 months from an increasing number of NYC buyers that lived through this nightmare and desperately will want out.”





Overall Advice

All of the agents we spoke to have found ways to adapt and survive. They are properly positioning themselves throughout the Pandemic by maintaining their spheres of influence through many types of direct and sincere communication. Our adapted agents ask themselves and they ask you to consider what is going on in the world now. They want you to accept the reality of it, to analyze it, understand it, and see where you can add the most value. Heed their advice.

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How Will The Housing Market Survive The Pandemic?

How Will The Housing Market Survive The Pandemic?

Pandemic Pause

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries including Real Estate to be on pause. No one has a crystal ball, but we would sure like to know when this pandemic ends and what happens next. The best we can do is assess where we are now, and forecast based on trends, human behavior, and history.

Current Conditions

Depending on where you are located, the housing market may look different. With the Fed cutting rates in March, there was a positive impact on mortgage activity. Additionally, refinance activity had also increased due to those low rates. However, applications for new homes had hit a low. Diana Olick of CNBC stated that “applications to purchase a home fell for the fifth straight week, down 2% from one week earlier and down a striking 35% from a year ago.” Although this is disappointing, it shows some promise in the way of the economy. According to Mortgage Banker’s Association’s economist, Joel Kan, “the decline in rates… is a sign that the mortgage-backed securities market is stabilizing and lenders are successfully working through their lending pipelines.”

Pandemic Mortgage Realities

The spring housing market is not what was expected at the beginning of 2020. Those hit hardest were those most affected by the disease. Purchase applications in California, New York, and Washington state are almost half of what they were this time last year. These are unprecedented modern times. According to Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Hater, “undoubtedly, the housing market is facing its greatest challenge in over a decade as our nation weathers this unprecedented economic event.”

Essential Employees

In many states, including New York, Pennsylvania, California, Realtors are deemed non-essential contractors. This can mean different restrictions for different states. In many states, it means zero in-person home showings. Some states, however, have lifted bans and deemed that essential housing work can be done. For states like Pennsylvania, this is not the case. In fact, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors sued their governor to change their status to that of essential workers. They have cited that “acquiring shelter” is essential.

Still, one can market properties online. However, as Realtor Jacqueline Krazewski states, “if you want to buy a house without seeing it in person, you can.” For Jacque and other agents, this translates to a risk that most clients are not willing to take. Therefore, applications for new mortgages are at a low.

Past Pandemics and Human Behavior

In order to know where this is going, it is important to consider things that have happened in the past. Additionally, we need to consider how humans have behaved after past pandemics. As we know, much of the economy depends upon the Real Estate Industry. Its an integral component and litmus test for the overall health of the economy.

According to Zillow’s research, “during… the 1918 influenza or the 2003 SARS outbreaks, economic activity fell sharply.” However, it “snapped back quickly once the epidemic was over.” Additionally, it is important to consider home prices, which during a pandemic tend to stay pretty stable. For example, “during SARS, Hong Kong house prices did not fall significantly.” However, “transaction volumes fell by 33-72% as customers avoided human contact.” After the epidemic was over, transactions went back to normal volumes. This research also matched models done by many organizations when predicting how a pandemic may affect annual GDP.

Given current market research, this pandemic shows a  “particularly strong ‘wait and see’ pattern.” This closely matches “what happened during the SARS outbreak.” “Customers are not going to walk-throughs or closing on transactions in person.” The current economic pattern shows a sharp fall. This sharp fall shows that it is not a standard recession. However, real estate may come to an almost complete halt as it has in China due to COVID-19.

Post-Pandemic Predictions

Much of the Real Estate Industry has been put on pause, but not fully cancelled. According to Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Khater,  they “expect that most of the economic damage from the virus will be contained to the first half of the year.” In fact, homebuyers are still out there doing virtual tours and looking for bargains. Home sales are expected to decrease in 2020 to 5.1 million homes, which is a decrease from previous projections. Freddie Mac optimistically projects that 6.1 million homes will sell in 2021.

Additionally, although stable, the price growth of homes is supposed to cool down a bit. Freddie Mac projects an annual rate of 0.4 percent in 2020 and 0.7 percent in 2021. MBA Economist Kan also states that “the purchase market is still expected to rebound.” As long public health measures reduce the pandemic’s spread, it will “result in a broader recovery.”

Economists are trying to predict what the recovery will look like.  According to Zillow it is “difficult to precisely forecast the economic downturn.” Additionally, it is difficult to project “how such a downturn could provoke a standard recession.” A survey done with Realtor.com stated that 36 percent of home shoppers think that the U.S. has entered a recession. Additionally, 33% of shoppers thought there was a recession to come in the next three months. However, “home shoppers who are still actively shopping reported greater optimism about home buying.”

Change and Acceleration

There are many agents making it work as best they can given the new climate. Many are showing homes virtually and leaning on technology more than ever. An adapted excerpt of our previous article touches upon some of the changes that agents are making:

According to Jeff Andrews of Curbed “real estate professionals are having to find innovative ways to finish transactions that were already underway and create a path forward for future sales.” Given these situations, it is critical that agents have the ability to digitize. We suggested NuOp as a tool that allows Realtors to complete legally binding referrals within the platform.  Additionally, NuOp offers a Community space where Agents can consult with other Agents. You can discover creative ways that other RE professionals are handling the barriers in front of them.

Many agents are still completing closings and are finding ways to adapt to stay afloat during this slowed time. Louise Phillips Forbes, an agent in New York City explained to Forbes a recent interaction she had in order to close a deal. She said, “we had one deal close recently where there were four cars in a parking lot representing the bank’s attorney, the seller’s attorney, the buyer’s attorney, and the title company ‘masked and gloved’ running back and forth getting signatures. That brings me hope that we can get through this.”


NuOp is now open to all Real Estate Industry Pros!

NuOp is now open to all Real Estate Industry Pros!

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The Real Estate Referral Community is now open to all professionals who service the Real Estate Industry.  Yes, Realtors have been the foundation of NuOp, but now everyone from Plumbers to Home Stagers, to Attorneys, can exchange referrals through NuOp.


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The current list of eligible professions




Audio / Visual Services

Business Training / Coaching

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Fence Services

Financial Planning

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Flooring Services

Fuel Delivery & Service

General Contracting

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Home Building

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Interior Design

IT / Networking Services

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Landscaping / Snow Removal


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Printing Services

Promotional Items

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Real Estate Development / Investment

Real Estate Sales

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Virtual Assistance

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Window Treatment

Digital Real Estate – Will COVID-19 force the Real Estate Industry out of analog?

Digital Real Estate – Will COVID-19 force the Real Estate Industry out of analog?

Digital Shifts

It seems like all industries have had to shift their practices in some form or another to digital interfaces. From groceries and automobiles to wine and online degrees, many have made the leap. These services create a space where the customer feels a sense of control and convenience. With the onset of the current pandemic, could we see a huge shift in how the Real Estate Industry interacts with its customer?

Real Estate and COVID-19

Like every person and every industry around the world, the Real Estate Industry is having to adjust to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As states decide how to respond, many realtors are already having to stop showings and limit many housing transactions. In our previous post, we advised that all realtors in all states should pay attention New York State. As New York City is the first major city with large outbreak numbers, its statewide choices will impact the states that follow. Realtors must look at how the industry is shifting in New York in order to prepare for coming days. Given the limitations of many states at this point, it seems that the RE Industry is asking for a digital upgrade in order to keep business moving.

Let’s Get Digital

According to Jeff Andrews of Curbed, “Situations like this are playing out all over the country. With much of the United States under shelter-in-place orders, real estate professionals are having to find innovative ways to finish transactions that were already underway and create a path forward for future sales.” Given these situations, it is critical that agents have the ability to digitize. NuOp allows Realtors to complete legally binding referrals within the platform. During this time, many Realtors themselves could be considered “high risk” individuals. The opportunity of referring clients to other Agents has never been a better idea.  Additionally, NuOp offers a Community space where Agents can consult with other Agents.  This is especially important during these trying times.

As most Real Estate Professionals know, a lot of our industry is analog. Curbed states that “the traditional real estate transaction is an antiqued process that relies on redundant paperwork and in-person meetings for things like notarizing paperwork, appraisal, inspection, and final walkthroughs. None of those elements allow for easy social distancing.” However, digital technology can offer a solution. The Real Estate Industry has resisted going digital. COVID-19 has caused a shift where it almost seems to mandate the change. No one fully knows or understands where the housing industry will be in the next few months. Yet, in order to keep the housing market afloat, we must adapt.

What Can We Do to Digitize?

As far as showing homes, many Realtors have started using digital technologies. Some have used sites such as a Zoom showing or 3D home tour. There are many services out there such as Matterport that offer a 3D experience. Matterport promises that their “powerful all-in-one 3D data platform” turns any space “into an accurate and immersive digital twin.”  Fortunately for the real estate industry, digital technology can solve these problems. The industry has been slow to adopt these technologies, relying on old methods, but COVID-19 has turned digital technologies from a novelty into a necessity, and it could end up being what finally forces the real estate industry into the digital age.