12A — January 22 - February 18, 2021 — 2021 Forecast — M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal


2021 F orecast

n my 30-plus years as a commercial real estate broker, evolving tech- By Joe Latina, Patterson-Woods Commercial Properties / CORFAC International Technology is necessary, but relationships bolster business in uncertain times I

video drones and detailed digital data that have become a necessity today, our business relies on tools to connect and inform our clients. However, as much as these technolo- gies have made us all more efficient, two values drove our success then and now: trust and the power of relationships. Along the way, email and text messages have replaced the phone call, take-out has replaced the power lunch, and Zoom has replaced the face-to-face meeting – at least during this time of social dis-

tancing for the greater good. As we adapt, evolve and battle through this pandemic, we should not lose track of those core principles that have been the foundation for our suc- cess, even as technology has streamlined our businesses and made it possible to work in these current conditions. I was traveling home from a conference in Mexico in early March 2020, as we were just beginning to understand the severity of this virus. I re- turned home to government of- ficials beginning to implement

restrictions and prepare for shutdowns. Shortly thereafter our pipeline began to crumble, and business had all but com- pletely halted, morale was down, and we found ourselves in damage-control mode. I am fortunate to have a strong group of young brokers on my team and they looked to me for advice asking, “What should we be doing?” My advice was to take it back to the basics: call, not email our clients. When they asked what to tell them, I said, “Ask them how they are, what they need,

what we can do for them.” We did just that. We dis- cussed strategy, offered our assistance and used our expe- riences and market knowledge to become trusted advisors. By focusing on the relationship aspect of our business when so much uncertainty was cloud- ing the deal forecast, we could position ourselves for when our customers were ready to make their next move. April’s struggles continued into May. June is normally a slower time of the year, but this June was different – ac- tivity increased, deals were beginning to get done. We began to control product that we may not have been able to obtain had it not been for our grassroots efforts. Summer was very busy, opportunities abounded. Not every deal was easy or pleas- ant (are any of them?), but we talked through them and made them work. Our third quarter was strong, and our 4th quarter even stronger. We all find ourselves inun - dated with a barrage of daily minutia. Taking the extra time to speak with and understand your clients and their needs can feel burdensome and un- necessary, but it is anything but that. The ability to clearly communicate your ideas to your clients, and them to you, is crucial in maintaining suc- cessful business relationships. In an era when so much of our normal lives was upended, and stress and volatility were a feature of nearly any busi- ness, having trusted advisors was even more critical for our clients. Technology could con- nect us when we couldn’t meet in person, but our knowledge of their business and sincere care for what they needed was a boon to both our business and theirs. As we look forward to the time when business will re- turn to some resemblance of normalcy, one thing is certain: technology will continue to evolve and remain a very im- portant part of business, but nothing will ever replace the power of the handshake (well, elbow-bump, for now). Joe Latina is principal at Patterson-Woods Commer- cial Properties / CORFAC International and 2021 CORFAC International president. MAREJ

no l ogy has i n f l uen c e d how we al l do business. From Black’s Guide (pa- perback, of course), my f i r s t 6 4 0k c o mp u t e r ,

Joe Latina

and my Palm Pilot that dra- matically increased my ef- ficiency and responsiveness early in my career to iPhones,

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