An Extraordinary Year Calls for Extraordinary Reflection: Year-End Message from Marin REALTORS® President Cathy Youngling
An extraordinary year calls for a moment of reflection. I know, I know… 2020 has had its challenges. There have been challenges for all of us. But 2020 has also brought with it remarkable moments of clarity that have helped me see just how blessed I am.
On a personal level spending time with my family in the beginning of the year all together from different parts of the world under one roof was a gift I will never forget. Then the expected 2 week visit, that turned into a 3-month visit, from our eldest daughter and our two grandchildren allowed us, in the middle of a pandemic, the time to be close. But today I want to focus on what this past year meant to me as a REALTOR®.
When the Pandemic hit, I was at a conference in Anaheim for California Association of REALTORS® serving as Marin’s President Elect. It was a chance to connect with other REALTORS® throughout the state and see first-hand how diligently so many have been working behind the scenes on our behalf. We were told not to shake hands because of a virus that had been detected that could be spreading. We all complied and learned that an elbow greeting can hurt (if the person has an exceptionally bony elbow and the greeting is done with vigor). I was hit with some sort of bug in the middle of the trip and to this day I don’t know what exactly it was - the fever, the immense fatigue. I did make it back after the closing ceremonies to Marin in time for the other shoe to drop. We were locked down.
All of us in Real Estate saw our businesses ground to a screeching halt. My new listing was on the market for less than a week when all “in person” showings had to stop. Immediately, the National Association of REALTORS®, the California Association of REALTORS® and the Marin REALTORS® worked on our behalf to get Congress to declare us eligible for PPP loans and unemployment for the first time in our history. This allowed us to focus on what our mission is, to help our clients reach their goals. Being the versatile people we are we came up with new and improved virtual tools to still represent our clients through this new reality. From Facetime tours, to PPE baskets, lots of hand-made masks, personalized hand sanitizers, a rainbow of shoe covers and disinfectants (of any brand we could find) to virtual tours and expanded floor-plans, we tried it all. With great success I must say!
Without this challenging time, I don’t know how soon I would become familiar with the tools technology gave us that allowed us to stay connected. ZOOM for calls, conferences and cocktail hours made it possible for us to communicate despite the distance (so much more than 6 feet). As I look back at the many things I have gained this year, I am reminded of what I have had all along - the honor of being a REALTOR®.
This year, I have been able to help many people during one of the most trying times in their lives. Many of my clients this year saw the importance of being close to family. Some felt this was the right time to find the place to retire that allowed them to utilize the equity in their homes to establish a new chapter. The honor of knowing these people for years and then to make this transition easier and successful will never be lost on me. I am so grateful for the lasting relationships I have built in this business that made this possible.
I am reminded of the young family who I represented in 2019, who moved to my neighborhood when they stopped me in the street to thank me profusely for “getting them into” their new home. “Can you imagine us still living in that SF apartment through all of this?!” To them being in Marin allows them the opportunity to breath, to be outside, to be supported by a great community and school system. To see them building their Marin life makes me almost giddy. It reminds me of being in the same place 30+ years ago. I am blessed to be a small part of that journey.
Business during the pandemic was brisk and at sometimes compacted and intense. I saw many on edge. I saw frayed nerves as escrows and loans sometimes had unexpected hiccups. Somehow by keeping the focus on the finish line and giving clients perspective, we made it through – my clients and me. 2020 was a successful year for me when I worried it would be one of my least. I have a lot of people to thank for this – not the least of which is my family.
This time has taught us all a lot about work/family balance. It’s a lesson I am still learning after all these years in the business. I found myself spread thin with the grandkids here (I have mad respect for parents juggling work and virtual classrooms). We also had two dogs, our eldest daughter, our youngest daughter (for a short visit) plus listings, buyers, Association conferences and more. So, I did what we all should do more often. I reached out to collaborate with others to create more time in my day. Teamwork is a great thing. By working with others, all parties benefit. This collaboration allowed me to be closer to my family making the most of those three precious months before they left for Central America.
Now as I look ahead to 2021 I want to remember a few things I learned from 2020.
1. There are no promises. The best laid plans can turn on a dime. There are times we cannot control what happens around us. But we can always control how we handle those things. That’s where the other lessons come in handy.
2. Learn new things. I may be 67 years old but I have learned new technologies and those better not only my life but help achieve success on behalf of clients. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach Cathy Zoom, Facetime Live and Selfie guided tours!
3. People matter. Focus on those around you – your family, your clients, your associates. Create for them a place where you support each other. Be open to getting support when you need it. AND realize the incredible honor that has been given you to be of service.
I feel so fortunate that 2021 will give me the opportunity to continue to be of service in this profession I love. We have been given a unique gift. The gift of making a difference in people’s lives. There may never be a better time for REALTORS® to support, lift-up and represent clients in such a meaningful way.
As you look to the New Year I hope you will be able to recognize just how valuable you are. Your value is not what’s in the bank - it is in the service you have been able to give others and the lives you are able to touch.
I look forward to hearing what lessons you have learned. Tell me your stories, I am anxious for the world to be reminded just how important a Realtor can be. 2021 Here we come!