Real Estate Market Survives COVID
DOVER-FOXCROFT – Despite safety guidelines that have made listing and showing properties more challenging in recent months, the real estate market is doing well, according to Dorothea “Dolly” Perkins. In May, the Realty of Maine broker was recognized for the highest dollar volume for an individual agent, closing on nearly $1 million for the month.
Perkins said that she loves dealing with farms, but another passion is, “helping people get their first home, or get a home after financial difficulty is really where my heart is. It’s absolutely life changing, not just for the buyer, but for their whole family. Many years ago, we experienced a devastating financial situation due to medical events. We even gave the home we lived in back to the bank, and lived in an apartment over the shop where we had a computer business. We did not even have enough money to go bankrupt. Eventually, with good advice and guidance from some people who knew more about this than me, we were able to recover, and I was able to take that experience and show people how to change their future. I did not know it at that time, but it seems that God allowed us to go through that and gave us the tools we needed to get through, and then be able to show others how to, as well. It’s truly a humbling thing, and it’s ultimately been a blessing, because there truly is hope and a way. It can be a long process, but so worth it!”
Perkins was able to work though the mandated shutdown, but things have been different. “We closed our small Dover-Foxcroft office for about a month and I worked from home,” she said. “When it became clear that we would be able to reopen, I leased a larger space – three times the size – so we could have meetings and closings and still be able to socially distance.” The office is now located at 64 East Main St., Suite G (the former H&R Block office).
Perkins and business partner Xiaorong Horton, and Perkins’ son, Lliam Perkins, also a licensed agent, have room to spread out, and take turns providing office coverage when others are out for showings or closings. “We keep sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, masks for anyone who wants or needs them, and we are able to now work in a larger, better space and still remain as safe as possible,” Perkins said. “We want our clients and customers to be comfortable.”
Realtors were able to show houses, but with some restrictions. Going out to show numerous homes to clients at one time was not an option. “We had to send the clients all the photos and data, make sure they were fully qualified, and then we had to go and do a ‘video tour’ of the properties they were interested in. They could then choose only one to visit in person. If they wanted to see another, we would then have to video that property, and schedule that showing for another time.”
Potential buyers were not allowed to bring friends, extended family, etc. Everyone had to wear a mask, gloves and shoe covers. “We had to provide them,” Perkins said. “I actually ended up buying over 1,750 pairs of shoe covers via my existing ULINE account. We were able to order when no one else was, because they were not accepting new accounts. We delivered many of them to our main office in Bangor, and they were able to help keep showings and marketing going for the area. Our staff in Bangor distributed shoe coverings to those who needed them, to help keep the local real estate market up and running.”
Another change is that much of the paperwork is done electronically, with digital signatures, to provide zero-touch safety. Agents go over disclosure forms by telephone while both parties view the documents on their respective computer screens. Two benefits are that nobody ends up trying to decipher handwritten notes, and that clients can keep the documents on the computer for future reference rather than being handed a “big stack of paperwork” to file.
“For the most part now, we are back to showing, with several restrictions still in place, but it is beginning to feel almost like the ‘old times.’
Perkins said she is not as familiar with the larger markets in southern Maine where the majority of real estate sales are located, “but in this area, people want to be in the country, and in small villages. They want that ‘Mayberry’ experience. We have so much to offer here – a safe place with low crime, reasonable home prices, an easy commute to Bangor and the services and shopping that they have, as well as job opportunities in ways that we never really imagined before. Working from home with the new fiber Internet has been life-changing and has allowed people to move to areas that they never would have been able to before.”
Perkins said that today’s low interest rates are also very good for first-time home buyers. “So, for us, sales are up,” she said on June 24. “We closed 11 transaction sides in our office in the last two weeks, so that is pretty good!”
The award-winning realtor credits good quality presentation, online marketing, and having PPE at the ready for her success. “We carry gloves, masks and sanitizer in our vehicles so that we are ready to show now that we can again,” Perkins said. “We do the best job we can by telling our sellers to leave all the lights on and interior doors open, so we don’t’ have to touch those surfaces. We do what we can to keep their homes as clean and safe as possible and to be respectful of their home.”
Despite robust sales in May and June, there are still people waiting. “I am hoping that the travel restrictions are lifted soon, and we can safely get those families a place where they can grow and flourish,” said Perkins. “We need the jobs and stability that they can bring to our area, and they crave the lifestyle we have here. Fortunately, I am not seeing a lot of the typical ‘out-of-stater’ cliché with the ones coming in. The people who want to move here seem to want to embrace the lifestyle, and do not want to re-create the one they are leaving.”
The biggest thing Perkins hopes people will understand about her business is that, “I am not here to ‘sell’ someone on the idea of buying or selling a home. By the time someone calls me to buy a place, or even sell, they have already decided that they want to do this. It’s a new chapter of life for them, and I am so honored when I get chosen to help!”
Perkins may be reached at 279-0571 or email@example.com.