In his own words, this week’s leader tells us what leadership means to him during these difficult days. Justin Bailey is a member of Leadership Knoxville’s 2020 class.
“I never thought I would see a day in my lifetime where we were required to make decisions around which businesses were essential and which ones were nonessential. The entire premise of that idea feels unfair and sad to me. YOU are essential; WE are ALL essential.
“Owning a real estate company, I have found myself living in the tension between wanting to be safe and responsible while at the same time wanting to be diligent in my effort to support our agents, our staff and our industry. However, I’ve come to believe that tension is good and necessary.
“Tension keeps us on our toes. It keeps us aware and awake. Our mission statement of ‘People over profit’ is an invitation to live in the tension between relationships and transactions. Both are necessary.
“I say all of that to say that living in this tension has not been easy. (Recently), …our public health officials made hard, but wise decisions about staying safe and staying home. Our trusted public health officials determined that at this time real estate is considered an essential service. I agree.
“Real estate is one of the most important sectors of our economy. The real estate industry accounted for $53.6 billion or 14.7% of the gross state product in 2018. The total economic impact of just one home sale was $61,655.
“Aside from all the data I could share with you, I was probably most impacted by a conversation I had (recently) with a buyer in contract who said, ‘… please don’t shut down. If our home purchase doesn’t close this week we have nowhere to live.’
“There are residents of Tennessee that have leases ending that, unless their homes close, will essentially be without a home. Our agents have already changed their processes to create a safe environment for their customers. We have adapted very quickly to the new physical distancing requirements, and we can use technology to show, and then sell properties without the need for physical contact.
“(When) a physical showing is necessary, we have developed company policies to sanitize homes between showings. In those instances, our agents are wearing gloves to open doors and turn on lights and provide shoe covers so buyers can tour a home in person without ever touching anything inside the property.
“We are closely monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 virus according to the guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. We are doing everything we know to do to remain safe while also remaining essential. As long as our local officials are comfortable with considering our business essential, we will continue to provide real estate services to our community.
“We will come back from this. And when we do, I sincerely believe our country will be more resilient, more supportive of one another and more connected than ever before.”
Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for Knox TN Today.