Koki and his team at Compass Real Estate are balancing increased demand for single family homes with new challenges from COVID-19.
This interview was conducted with Koki Adasi, the head of Team Koki at Compass Real Estate.
Koki and his team are a part of what most consider to be a bullet-proof industry in the Washington region: real estate. Even after the economic crisis in 2008 ravaged real estate markets across the country, Washington escaped the housing crisis relatively unscathed due to the backbone of federal funding that has always supported the local economy. Real estate value in the area has been on an upward trajectory with no signs of stopping, particularly with the announcement of Amazon’s massive expansion into the Northern Virginia corridor.
Koki is a well-known thought leader in his industry, the Immediate Past President of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtor (GCAAR), providing real estate expertise to media outlets including CNN, NPR, HGTV, Washingtonian and the Washington Post, as well as earning a spot in the prestigious Realtor Magazine ’30 Under 30′. Having joined forces with COMPASS, one of the hottest new tech startups disrupting the world of residential real estate, the future couldn’t have looked brighter for Team Koki and their work in the region.
Unfortunately, nobody could have foreseen the global pandemic on the horizon and the lasting effects it would have on every industry in the world - including real estate. Despite efforts by the Federal Reserve - including one of the lowest interest rates in history - to jumpstart the country’s economy, the massive job loss and reduced spending has dealt a noticeable blow to local real estate activity.
This interview sheds light on Koki’s efforts to lead his team through unprecedented market conditions, as well as his personal insight into what the future holds for real estate in the age of COVID.
What is your name? What is the name of your business?
My name is Koki Adasi, and the name of my business is Koki and Associates Incorporated. The name that we use for marketing purposes is Team Koki at Compass Real Estate.
Describe what your business was like before Covid-19 hit. What did an average day look like for your business?
On most days, I would get to the office around 9am. I would spend most mornings generating leads and prospecting, trying to find new opportunities and new people that we can assist with buying, selling and renting real estate. I get a ton of emails, so that morning time is really spent following up with people.
The afternoons and evenings are spent meeting and consulting with clients. Both those who are looking to sell their properties, and buyers who are looking to get into the marketplace, whether it's the first time or they’re selling their property to buy a bigger place. I sit down with them to walk through the entire home buying process and explain to them how our team works and how we can assist them with a pretty big financial decision.
That's an average day before COVID, and of course that has changed dramatically since the shutdown.
When did you start to feel the impact of COVID-19, what happened?
We started to feel the impact around late February and early March. Our conversations turned to, “this is really serious. We may need to change how we do business.” But we didn't immediately understand exactly what that would look like. Once D.C, Maryland and Virginia issued the stay at home orders, we knew we needed to figure out a new way to operate.
What resources, if any, helped you through this time period?
Compass has shared tons of information with agents via email. We have also had several Zoom conferences, where we're all checking in and making sure we have the right information to keep ourselves and our clients safe.
The local real estate association, GCAAR, has also been sending out information to make sure we’re all being compliant and following rules to stay safe and keep our clients safe. GCAAR supports about 11,000 Realtors in Montgomery County and Washington D.C. The National Association of Realtors has been a great resource as well.
What resources are missing?
I feel like there's been a lot of information put out there. The places that I'm going to for information have done a great job of condensing it down and making sure that we're getting the right bullet points that we need to properly and safely conduct our business. We've been very fortunate in that sense, and also very fortunate that we are still able to operate our business at all. A lot of people have lost jobs or been furloughed. When you see the unemployment numbers, it’s concerning, but it also makes you feel grateful to have a job.
How has this experience changed how you do business?
I personally would be shocked if, when this is all done, we go back to how things were before. I almost feel like it's impossible to go back to how things were before.
I think that my business has changed and will be changed forever. For example, right now, I don't see much value in going to an office. We've been very productive from home.
Clients have adjusted well to it. If we need to, we can meet in person, we can do it safely. But we've also realized we can accomplish a lot through virtual conference calls. I see the ways our business will change forever as mostly being for the better. I think this has caused a lot of people to look at how they can work more efficiently. You're saving time, you're also saving money. The client is saving time and money as well.
Typically I would meet a client in the office or at their home for a consultation, which will take about an hour or so, and now we're meeting virtually. They can walk upstairs to their home office or sit down at the dining room table. They don't have to travel back and forth. I think there's been many silver linings in this process. COVID-19, in and of itself is a horrible virus that's impacting the entire world. And at the same time, there have been positive things that have come from this situation.
I think virtual tours and meetings are here to stay.
I do think that open houses will return eventually. However, now we have the option of virtual open houses. I do believe that we're going to see many more of them once we're back to our new normal.
What has been the most difficult thing you have dealt with so far?
This industry is essentially sales, and it takes a lot of interpersonal skills, connecting with people, lots of communication and face to face interaction. All of that is really gone because now even if I meet with you in person, I can't completely see your face, I can't shake your hand. Just the little things that really create a connection are gone now. That has been a challenge for me. This past Saturday, I went to a client's house, where I’ll be selling their property in Olney, Maryland, and I walked in for the first time to actually physically meet them. We're not shaking hands, we’re social distancing to make sure that we're following the guidelines and keeping people safe. But it's been challenging for someone like me who likes to make that connection and have those face to face meetings.
In the past, we would host various events with our clients, from happy hours to wine tours to our annual fall festival. Right now our team is brainstorming on ways that we can still deliver something similar while following all the guidelines that are currently out there. It's challenging but I know that we'll be able to still give our clients a great experience during this period.
Has anything positive happened for you personally or for the business as a result of COVID-19?
This experience forces people to stay at home, to hunker down. People are spending time outside, going to a park, walking around and exercising. But ultimately, spending more time at home. When you spend more time at home, you're thinking about the things that you want to either add to your home or change about your home. Or you think about things that your home doesn't have, that you wish you had. That creates the thought, “Okay, well, how can I get what I want?” We've seen that in the last two months, home searches for single family houses that have yards has gone up 40%. That means people who are in dense locations, or living in townhomes, condos and apartments, are feeling cramped.
We've seen that in the last two months, home searches for single family houses that have yards has gone up 40%.
I would say the last five or six buyers who reached out looking for a new home have all commented how COVID-19 has helped speed up their process for moving into a new property.
COVID-19 a horrible pandemic, which is creating opportunity that wasn't there before.
I think working more efficiently has been a positive, saving a lot of time and money. The ability to reach out to folks more because I have had so much time at home, and so I can prospect more and stay in touch. Before COVID-19, I was often working really long hours. Being able to be home almost all day with my kids and my wife has been a blessing in disguise. I've been working out more than I ever have. I'm one who likes to focus on the positive, and I think this situation has brought a lot of positives into our lives.
Have you been following the reopening process in other states, how does that make you feel?
I've been following the openings, but I don't feel like I'm missing out. I'm not sure if opening is the right decision, but I'm glad we get to watch businesses in other areas do it first so we can learn from them.. Are they seeing more cases? Are cases actually dropping, even though things are open? For us here in the DMV, it's a benefit to see that from afar, get the intelligence, get the data, and then make a decision based on that. And of course, to see how things are trending in our area as well.
What have you learned from this experience?
I’ve learned that regardless of what's happening in the world, if you have the right mindset you can get through any challenge. You can still thrive and be successful in a very tough situation, and you can still support your community and give back in a major way. Our team goal for the year is to donate $25,000 to local nonprofits. When COVID-19 arrived we decided to help alleviate some of the hardships being felt right now in the DMV because we're all blessed and have means to still work. We need to help folks who are negatively impacted by this situation, and that's been a great thing to be a part of.