By Amy Gamerman
Oct. 14, 2020
Q: Have you come up with an ingenious workaround to show homes while observing strict Covid-19 protocols?
Heather T. Roy & Learka Bosnak
Real-estate agents, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Beverly Hills
Ms. Bosnak: Heather and I have been working together for 15 years and we are very comfortable doing showings together. Then Covid shut everything down. We did a showing and I came back completely frustrated, because we were wearing masks. I felt muzzled. I was constantly running around saying, "I'm smiling under here!" This business is all about rapport, comfort level.
Ms. Roy: We're like, "We need new skills. We need people to know what we're thinking, and we also need to know what they're thinking." It was almost like we needed a body language expert. I am single and I had met with a couple of matchmakers in L.A. One had her clients meet with a body language expert—Mark Edgar Stephens.
Ms. Bosnak: Heather's still single, but we love this guy.
Ms. Roy: So we called Mark and told him what we were after, and we had a two-hour Zoom meeting with him and our operations manager, Matthew Ingraham.
Ms. Bosnak: Matthew had gotten us "Heather and Learka" masks—very classy—black with white letting along the cheekbone.
Ms. Roy: Mark said, "Get your masks out, let's do this." He had planned exercises for us. He put a mask on and he was like, "OK, I'm just seeing this house. How do I feel?" And he'd make us tell him what we thought he felt. All three of us would be shouting, "Oh my God, you don't like it!" He explained how much is communicated through eye movement, like crinkles and stuff like that.
Ms. Bosnak: One of his other big tips was to make sure your whole body is working. Face the person and make sure your feet are in the right place. Otherwise you are signaling that you are not listening. Now it's become so rote, I don't even think about not facing a client when I'm talking to them. If they are behind me and ask a question, I will turn around and look at them.
Ms. Roy: The thing we've had to be careful with is I forget I have sunglasses on. This is L.A. and we all have multiple pairs. We wear them all the time, they match our cute outfits. But if we have masks and sunglasses on, that becomes very challenging. Now we have to take our sunglasses off.
Ms. Bosnak: Absolutely.
Real-estate agent, Wish Sotheby's International Realty, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
A lot of the rules were changing week to week: You've got to have a face covering or a mask, you've got to have gloves, booties and hand sanitizer. In that time period, everyone at a showing had to have gloves. You could get in trouble—and I'm a rule-follower.
The hard thing to get was gloves. This was in May when you couldn't find anything. My dad had sent me the remainder of his gloves and I had just used them up. But business was pretty slow then. I ordered some gloves online, thinking, "I'm sure they'll be here at some point." And then I get a call from an agent who wanted to see a listing in the Valley. Her client was in New York, and they wanted to do a FaceTime tour. It was, "Can I meet you in one hour?" and I said, "Of course."
Four days before, I had ordered food online from this Mexican restaurant, Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill in Studio City. I was scrolling down their menu and for "dessert" the only thing they had was "a box of gloves." I was like, "That is genius," but I didn't order them because I had gloves coming. I clocked it in my brain though. "Note to self: Sharky's has gloves.' And then this agent calls.
I was nervous that Sharky's maybe sold out all their gloves. I called them minutes before I had to leave, and I'm getting ready at the same time. While I'm calling my thought was, "Please say 'yes,' please say 'yes' that you still have gloves for dessert." And the woman who answered the phone was like, "Yes we do!" She was so nice. She could probably sense my frantic energy.
I said, "Perfect! I'll take a box of gloves and an ice tea." They were on the way, 10 minutes from the showing.
Those gloves lasted about two months. It was a big box.
—Edited from interviews
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