Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read August 2021 — Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman, Florida Region and President of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, Florida spoke to Invest: about the long-term effects of the pandemic and why the technological transformation of the last year is here to stay. He also lays out the long-term expectations for a robust South Florida market.
What strategies have you deployed to successfully manage the crisis of the pandemic?
The time frames are relevant to the response. Essential services were not clearly defined at the beginning, but, amazingly, in Florida, real estate agents became part of that class who were able to conduct business. We were forced to be disciplined, innovative and focused. We were trying to not only meet the demands of our agents — who are our clients — but of their clients as well. There were a lot of emotional challenges that made certain decisions harder to commit to. There was a lot of fear, uncertainty and hesitation but, ultimately, what we found was that we had to focus on our mission: to service our agents in the same way that they would service their buyers and sellers. That meant we had to step up to the plate. After doing this, we realized that our Douglas Elliman infrastructure was particularly effective in pivoting and providing a plethora of services that would allow our agents to conduct their work remotely and still provide exemplary service.
What makes the South Florida market an exciting one right now?
With the advent of remote work — and the recognition that it does not lessen the quality of performance — people have flocked to Miami, Palm Beach and every major market in Florida, a revolution that was already in motion pre-pandemic but at a slower pace. In many cases, I have referred to Palm Beach as the most important market in the world. The reasons are pretty easy to define: safety, security, value, quality, proximity, airlift, and so on. What we saw was not only a surge in people relocating to Florida but also the types of people who were relocating here were business leaders, owners and high net worth families. Furthermore, the people coming here were relocating; they were advancing that typical last step before retirement much earlier in the life-cycle because they could.
What technological changes from the past year are here to stay?
All of them. I’m a proponent of not falling prey to reinstating socially accepted pre-COVID practices simply because they were in place before the pandemic. I believe that it is in fact our social obligation to learn lessons from adversity, tragedy and challenges. To not take those lessons seriously is a misfortune. Anyone who isn’t client facing and who has established their ability to be effective and productive at home should not be forced to return to an office just for the sake of saying, I’m going to an office or for “optics”. Those who are client-facing should be there and should want to be there because it’s part of their job description. I spend a lot more time on Zoom calls, as opposed to my traditional meetings, where I would spend hours upon hours traveling from project to project and office to office. While it’s not a perfect solution and certainly not the only way to work, it does in fact provide efficiency and other value. I still think it’s important that we have in-person meetings but I don’t believe our effectiveness is materially compromised by taking advantage of the technological advancements we’ve seen during this period.
What’s your outlook for the next two to three years?
I think we’re in the early innings of a doubleheader that we’re winning. As it relates to the real estate market, I think we’ve got a long, strong ride ahead of us. As it relates to the Florida economy, if you’ve got more wealthy people moving here, what are they going to do when they get here? They’re going to spend money. They’re going to spend money on everything you can think of, from cars to food to school and anything and everything in between. Employment will go up all around. Every part of our society should swell as the wealthy demand more and better services. It is a discerning clientele that is making this place their home and from my seat that is good for Florida!
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