The Seven Real Estate Stages of the Pandemic

Mortgage and Lending with US Bank NMLS: 22343

The Seven Real Estate Stages of the Pandemic


By now, some of us have lost a loved one, friend or community member to COVID-19.  Though if the cavalier denialism exhibited by some Americans is an indicator, there are still many who have yet to share the magnitude of such a loss.  But even putting one's head in the sand about the medical realities of the coronavirus cannot spare us the social, emotional and economic impacts. 


It's accepted as true that though we all grieve a loss, everyone grieves in a unique manner.  One of the most referenced works on the topic was written in 1969 by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book On Death and Dying. This philosophy is popularly referred to as the "stages of grief," and whether comprised of five emotions or seven, it feels increasingly as though we are traveling through 'stages of the pandemic' in both our professional and personal lives.  Sometimes we mourn the loss of our "past life" in a linear fashion and sometimes we jump along the steps chaotically, but without a doubt we have been presented with an event that has impacted our world and is in the process of shaping our future.  If I think back to February or March, and reflect on today, here are some examples from my journey through the stages: 


1) Shock and disbelief

Wait, no broker tours, no showing of property?  Here we go again a la Lehman, 2008 or 9/11 --- investors leaving the market and loan programs being suspended or canceled.  Tremendous rate chaos.  


2) Denial

No way they will shut businesses down --- that's crazy.  What do you mean the kids are not going to go to school?  The Junior Warriors basketball season is canceled?


3) Guilt

I should have been more forceful with our clients who were on the fence.  How did we get lulled into complacency with credit availability?  Why did we let our guard down and not consider existential risks in our assessments of the market?  


4) Anger and bargaining

Why are we, here in CA, subject to shelter-in-place while people in other parts of the country are still conducting business as usual?  What do these "health experts" really know?  Man, I HATE Zoom meetings!


5) Depression/loneliness/reflection

My 85-year old dad is 2000 miles away and I'm not sure when he'll see his grandson next.  I'm not going to see the inside of a bustling conference room for many months. Some of the skills, habits and personality traits I've used to build my business are going to be sidelined indefinitely.  Put the professional wardrobe in mothballs...


6) Reconstruction and working through

Yes, this is the landscape of our new reality --- it is not temporary.  Embrace, learn and master the tools and tactics necessary to maintain momentum.  Contemplate what it will take to grow in a remote world.  Reinvest marketing dollars accordingly.   Rethink all iterations of "it's just the way we do things."


7) Acceptance and hope

The way we did business is over.  What remnants exist are gifts but my mindset must accept that I am in a foreign country now and I need to first learn and then speak their language.  I can still think in my native tongue, but the longer I hold out and do so, the more difficult it will be to assimilate.  The sooner I embrace the good and bad of the new culture, the sooner I will be open to its wonders.


Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I can find myself cycling through several or even all of the above stages on any given day.  My guess is that most others do as well --- unless they are stuck.  Maybe they're stuck in denial.  Maybe they're still pissed off --- at their governor, at their clients, at themselves. Then again, maybe some are well on their way of reconstructing their businesses but  require help they never previously needed; with new technology, with new tools, with new ideas.  My point is that we have all lost a loved one --- our pre-pandemic way of life and business.  It's now up to us to move on, yet before we do we must confront the grieving process.  Recognizing that is part of a healthy healing process too.


In loving memory,


Rob Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343 
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959


Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960

Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate's Human Resources Department.


Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 - (866) 934-7283


Comments (17)

George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Rob I shared some of the feelings you have gone through, and even though I did not share all of the emotions you have experienced, I fully understand why you would have.

Oct 13, 2020 08:13 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Rob - what a thoughtful post and your connection to the stages by Kubler-Ross is an effective way of making/reinforcing your point.  

While I notice you haven't included this in the ActiveRain Challenges "group" I do think it's ideal for it.  Do you agree Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS, Broker, Instructor and Carol Williams?

Oct 13, 2020 08:30 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Rob,
Great post. Much has changed but, hopefully, we'll be able to reconnect with people in a meaningful way eventually. 

Here is the link to the October Challenge.

Oct 13, 2020 08:59 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Now this was very interesting to approach at looking at  the shut down/ pandemic Rob...rather sobering.It's been tough for many, many folks. Over time, things will come around. hopefully for as many as possible. It takes patience and a lot of it.

Oct 13, 2020 04:58 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Rob- very interesting perspective on the 7 real estate stages of the pandemic. Let's hope that by now, most have moved on to step 7. 

Oct 13, 2020 06:10 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Rob Spinosa - this is a good adaptation of the stages of grief to the real estate industry.  I have seen it with the people I have been working with.

Oct 17, 2020 04:17 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

This was a great way to lay out the path we've been on this year. And in order to remain successful, we have had to adjust our plans.

Enjoy your day!

Oct 17, 2020 05:08 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Rob Spinosa - I can certainly understand that the tighter a state or area is locked down the more people may be going through the Kubler-Ross stages. It makes sense.  In Arizona, real estate has been considered an essential business from day 1. As our state and local MLS made process changes (health and safety), I adapted quickly and moved forward.  I don't believe in draconian measures to keep me caged.  I am an adult who can make smart and safe decisions for my family, friends, and clients, as well as myself.    

Oct 17, 2020 07:29 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Hi there, Rob. I appreciate your very thoughtful take on this most unusual year. I have gone through many of those stages. And, I'm sure all of us know of at least one person or family who knows this virus first-hand.  Take good care. 

Oct 17, 2020 07:42 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

Great perspective Rob and humorous way of looking at the changes the industry has gone through.

Oct 17, 2020 09:23 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Rob:

This was an interesting read! I think we can all identify with what you have shared, at some level. There are plenty of words one might use to describe 2020!


Oct 17, 2020 10:19 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Oct 17, 2020 06:23 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Wow, this is so good! You really thought it through and display that you are acutely aware of the stages of grief we all experience which somehow makes the process go more quickly.

Oct 18, 2020 08:45 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Rob Spinosa,

I'm glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-ha" moments for the week. Excellent post and I really hope we can move on to #7 and embrace the good and bad of the new culture, the sooner I will be open to its wonders.

Oct 18, 2020 04:22 PM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Rob, a brillant analysis of the process.  It reads a bit like the stages of the grieving process.  To your last point, hope always yes.  Acceptance depends, the courts in several states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, are striking down the overreach of governors.  Florida is completely open. I understand many suits against CA gov have been filed at the state level but those states that filed at the federal level are getting the attention.

Oct 18, 2020 09:46 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Interesting take on the pandemic, Rob! My favorite line is, of course, a positive one..."The sooner I embrace the good and bad of the new culture, the sooner I will be open to its wonders." <<SO TRUE!

Oct 18, 2020 10:40 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

2020 started out so well for me and would have been a record breaking year !

But having avoided Covid-19 is more important 

Oct 19, 2020 04:53 AM