Denise Graves knows real estate.
One of the area’s premier real estate agents, she has built an incredible business through her relationships, her professional accolades, and because she just flat out hustles. She sat down with us for a brief talk about this past year, its challenges, and where she’s headed with her business.
She begins, “We were expecting business as usual this year, just like everyone I suppose. We had a bunch of listings to start the year, and kept with our average of 7 to 10 new listings every month. Then COVID hit. The way the lockdown started was confusing for everyone as things changed so quickly. For us, we had an open house scheduled and we were told by SABOR that we couldn’t have it. But our client expected the open house, and we had promised it, so we did a Facebook LIVE virtual open house in March just because we were scrambling.”
However, as things happened, being forced to scramble can sometimes work out better than expected. She continues, “We’ve started doing Facebook LIVE videos as we preview houses now, and that’s actually been really helpful. I’m very strong willed, and I’m fine with thinking outside the box – and this year has certainly required that. We’ve had to be flexible, set our egos aside sometimes, and just get the job done. With LIVE, it’s a new thing for us because it’s like giving a personalized tour to a lot of people while they are asking questions and so it’s great, yet different. ”
While much has changed and the Graves team has had to adapt, there’s still clients she has to meet and homes she has to show. But even those interactions are different. “Initially it was the unknown with COVID. Some were concerned, some less so. I’ve had to wear masks and gloves and foot covers in some houses due to the owner’s wishes, and it’s hard. Then I’ve had other people that don’t care about the precautions and so I’m winging it. We’ve shown properties without people ever actually even seeing the property, and so certainly, that’s a new thing for me. For the whole team, really.”
As the real estate landscape has changed quickly this year, it has had its benefits. With interest rates falling to historic lows, that has certainly enticed many buyers. She explains, “The concern now going into 2021 – we handle high end real estate and we’re just wondering what the market is going to do. The great thing about 2020 is that we’ve learned that we can wiggle through challenges, and rates are so ridiculously cheap right now. It’s so easy for people to stretch their dollar and help people get even more house for their budget.”
Typically doing $45m in sales year over year, the team is poised to eclipse this for 2020, which is an amazing accomplishment. She credits a few things as for how she has pulled this off: “Be flexible. Always look for new ways to innovate. Video is king right now. People have less personal interaction than they used to, bringing a personal experience to the real estate transaction is where it’s at. People are more focused on relationships, so it’s different but it’s even more important. They’re not seeing people as much – but it makes those interactions we DO have all the more important. How do we touch people in ways with the limited opportunity? It’s a fascinating time. I have a short attention span and my clients do as well – so we continue to look at ways to interact with our clients in new and unique ways given our challenges.”
With Teri Bomgaars, Emily Boham, Rob Boham, Bill Graves (husband), and Robert Gunter on her team, 2021 is poised to be a record year as well. She continues, “Our goal for 2021 is to innovate – we won’t know until March after the 1st quarter as to what people’s perception of how our new lives are heading – the election is over, vacations are coming, there won’t be a zombie apocalypse…and we will know well what is going on in our world. Inventory is going to be a problem, and that will drive a ton of our business. We have buyers all over the place, but inventory is tough. Right now is the absolute best time to sell – we have buyers just waiting for us to call them with options, and yet options are hard to find.”
With a 20 year career in real estate in this area, her involvement in the community is important to Graves, and she invests heavily in it. “I’m very much with Hill Country Daily Bread supporter. That’s an important mission for me. I love the work they do and getting people back on their feet and giving them a sense of pride and worth – which is just huge for me. It’s not a handout – it’s a hand-up. We realized how hyper local our business is, and how blessed we are to live in a bubble. There’s tremendous unrest in the nation and we’re blessed to live in a supportive, happy bubble. There’s not huge world events happening here in town, and we’re so grateful for that fact – things that are happening in Oregon aren’t happening here – we anchor one another locally and provide peace and that’s huge for us all. It’s also a reminder of why I love this area so very much, and have been so blessed to be part of it.”