Romeo Manzanilla

Romeo Manzanilla

2020 President, Austin Board of REALTORS®

When we embarked onto a new decade a few months ago, I don’t think anyone could have predicted we would be in the unprecedented situation we’re in today. At the time of writing this, Central Texans are sheltering-in-place to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. REALTORS® and brokers are figuring out how to continue operations safely (and virtually) as an essential business. While there’s no way of knowing where we’ll be when you read this, one thing is for certain — our industry and our community will never be the same. 

REALTORS® are hardworking, caring and resourceful people. I have seen so many examples of this over the last few weeks as agents have pivoted to virtual operations practically overnight and found new, creative ways to market listings and stay connected to clients. This has been a disruptive and challenging time for our community, but it will inevitably lead to smarter, safer and innovative ways of doing business in the future.

This is the case at the Austin Board of REALTORS® too. Within three weeks, the staff at ABoR transitioned to fully remote operations with minimal impact to services and zero impact to your member benefits. ABoR Academy classes, events and volunteer group meetings were reworked to be held virtually. This is all while posting real-time COVID-19 industry updates, expert interviews and resources on our COVID-19 Resources Page (ABoR.com/COVID19) on a daily basis. Since then, we have remained laser-focused on making sure you are kept informed, equipped and empowered during this difficult time. 

As we’ve had to pivot and shift operations, we’ve been constantly looking for ways to turn these changes into long-term member benefits for you.

Free Education with ABoR On-Air

In our unprecedented situation, professional development is more important than ever. In fact, the agents who use disruptive times like these to hone their skills and double-down on their education are those who come out ahead when market conditions return to normal. 

To that end, at the beginning of the month we launched ABoR On-Air, live, online courses that allow our members to experience the same benefits of our ABoR Academy classroom courses in the comfort of their own home for free through May 30. We’ve doubled our typical course schedule offered at the Academy, including required license renewal courses, SAE, GRI, MLS training and more.

And it’s not just ABoR Academy classes — we’ve begun to roll out member-favorite events and programs virtually, such as our Small Broker Meetup and our Global Lunch and Learn (ABoR.com/GLL).

Most all of the courses we had scheduled through May 30 sold out in the first few hours after the announcement, and since then we’ve been working hard to add additional courses as soon as we can schedule them. Learn more at ABoR.com/Academy.

Stay Home, Work Safe Kit

In addition to our COVID-19 Resource Center, we also launched a Stay Home, Work Safe Kit for members (ABoR.com/WorkSafe). It’s jam-packed with helpful videos, downloadable resources and tools to keep your clients informed and your business thriving during this season. This includes FAQ flyers for clients, a Business Planning Workbook, daily planners, virtual operations guides, coloring sheets for your kids, Spotify playlists and more!

Looking Ahead: Seek the Silver Lining

I don’t know when things will return to “normal,” but for my family, my Realty Austin team and at ABoR, we are embracing this season as an opportunity to innovate our operations and double-down on what matters most in our business. While there’s no way to tell what market conditions will be like when this article runs in late April, economists believe that when COVID-19 is behind us, the Austin housing market is going to be hotter than ever.

In all ways, Austin real estate is still open for business, but our business has changed. We’re in this together and ABoR has your back.

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