The broker balancing Zoom and homeschooling in a crowded house
April 9, 2020
Arrian Binnings of Compass balances working from home with his wife, Sejal Binnings, while assisting a homeseller infected by the coronavirus in San Francisco
BY INMAN | Today 1:00 A.M.
Inman Diaries is a weekly feature tracking the day-to-day activities of America’s leading real estate agents in their own words. This week, Arrian Binnings of Compass balances work, Zoom meetings and home-schooling in a crowded house as the pandemic grows.
Monday, March 23
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7 a.m. With the coronavirus pandemic putting a full-stop on real estate activity and shelter-in-place restrictions upending our daily routines, the start to the week is anything but typical. I shuffle into the kitchen and make myself a Nespresso, a departure from my daily walk to the corner coffee shop. The kids are up and instead of getting them ready for school, we start making them breakfast and gear up for the next few hours of home-schooling.
8 a.m. With the kids fed and the parents caffeinated, we log on to their iPads to see what the school has doled out for today’s curriculum. Our boys are in kindergarten and first grade. They have Zoom calls with their classes so they can see their teachers and classmates, and we spend the next 3-4 hours going through all the assignments. We of course appreciated their educators before, but this brings things to a whole new level!
11:30 a.m. The kids break for free-play and my wife and I start getting busy with work.
It’s Monday so we have our weekly team meeting, but this time it’s over Zoom. The format of our weekly team meeting is to discuss every listing and active buyer we have. We discuss the market, new listings, pocket listings, outstanding referrals, our leads and how we can reach out to them. We discuss business operations such as finance, marketing, website improvements, and of course a little industry gossip.
12:30 p.m. With the team meeting wrapped, we come away with a list of to-do’s. But first, it’s time to feed the family lunch. Salads used to be our lunch time go-to, but with the shelter-in-place and an inability to keep large amounts of produce on hand, we’re stuck eating more pantry-type foods. We’re definitely missing our leafy greens!
1:30 p.m. Zoom calls with other agents in San Francisco and Marin County to discuss the unique circumstances of the market, how we’re handling adversity and planning for the future.
3 p.m. The kids are getting restless, so we grab a football and run passing routes in the backyard. Not our usual spot in the nearby park — but it will work. It’s my favorite part of the day so far, getting some fresh air, sunlight, and hearing my kids laugh.
4:30 p.m. I take some time to contemplate what the pandemic is teaching us. Will it be a catalyst for change, or will we rush back to the status quo? I try to confront my own uneasiness. Sometimes a guided meditation helps; other times, just focusing on my breath.
6:30 p.m. We’re getting very creative making meals with what’s on hand. There is a lot of pressure on the grocers and delivery services so our dinners are more an exercise in resourcefulness than anything, as we’re not able to stock the items we would normally have on hand.
8 p.m. My wife and I catch up on messages, work on our to-do’s, and take care of ourselves. We count our blessings and end with gratitude.
Tuesday, March 24
7 a.m. Is this Groundhog Day?? Normally I would be gearing up for Broker’s Tour today, but instead, it’s a repeat of Monday.
1 a.m. Timeout from the homeschooling to get in a workout! Normally I’m at Equinox early in the morning with my trainer but now I’m working out from home with a set of kettlebells and a newly-purchased Peloton. Outdoor runs, my go-to exercise, are on hiatus because my normal routes are too crowded.
12 p.m. Today my wife and I have eight Zoom calls with our buyers and sellers, trying our best to advise them in this dynamic environment.
We’ve managed to close two deals since shelter-in-place began. One is a charming beach cottage blocks from the ocean for a family expecting their first baby in the summer. The other is a hip bachelor pad in the middle of the city. Both sets of buyers are thrilled with their new homes!
5 p.m. Back at my computer, tweaking our new PaytonBinnings.com website, cleaning up our CRM, and continuing outreach.
6:30 p.m. Dinner time and normally we’d have an NBA game on in the background, but that is no more. We share more intimate conversations without the TV (a good thing!)
7:30 p.m. Tonight’s bedtime story is about the human body, the immune system, and how germs work. The boys are fascinated, and we talk about how to ensure we keep ourselves clean.
8 p.m. Catch up on messages, work on projects that always seem to get pushed to the back burner and enjoy a Zoom birthday party for my brother-in-law.
Wednesday, March 25
Ana Silva / EyeEm
7 a.m. We’re craving variety but it will only come in the form of the boys’ different lesson plans, the different Zoom calls, and the new activities we can dream up at home.
10 a.m. We hop on a virtual meeting with our company using the Blue Jeans app. Everyone gets a good chuckle when some participants commit a ‘work-from-home-fail’ and forget to use the mute feature. The overarching theme to the call is… uncertainty.
11 a.m. Squeeze in a workout, but I’m really missing my runs! They provide a boost of endorphins that I just can’t seem to get from the home routines. Plus, I’m catching myself grazing by the fridge and pantry more often too—yikes!
8 p.m. Tonight is a Zoom call with a couple of close Dad friends. We grab a glass of wine after our kids are in bed and discuss what’s going on in each of our households. We share little hacks to make life better and how we can support each other. It’s a great conversation and our bonds become ever more cemented.
Thursday, March 26
7 p.m. Wake up with appreciation and a determination to tackle another day of shelter-in-place!
1 p.m. A first for us – a Zoom listing presentation! The sellers show us around their modern Sausalito home using their iPad, and we discuss the details of their renovation. We then go over our marketing strategy and recommendations given the current climate. We use the screenshare feature on Zoom to give our presentation.
8 p.m. I plant myself in front of my DJ gear and weave together another 2-hour mix. Getting lost in the beats for a while proves therapeutic.
Friday, March 27
7 a.m. Almost forgot that it’s Friday, the days are starting to become a blur.
11 a.m. Hallelujah, we get a call letting us know we’re closed! We helped a first-time buyer secure their dream home just before shelter-in-place began. Little did we know that we would have to navigate a new and uncertain world during the escrow period. But thanks to a professional agent on the other side, an efficient lender, and calm clients, we were able to successfully close this purchase with minimal drama.
We brought it to the finish line utilizing remote services and a virtual final walk-through over FaceTime. Feeling very thankful that both buyer and seller remained level-headed through the process!
Saturday, March 28
7 a.m. A free day! My wife and I are looking forward to the weekend as much as the kids now, since it means no lesson plan and no home-schooling.
10 a.m. We hop on a call with a seller who has already relocated to Southern California. We had planned to discuss plans and strategy for virtual tours and marketing, but she begins the call by dropping a bomb – she herself has contracted coronavirus! She assures us that she will be fine, but it reminds me and my team the importance of taking the outbreak very seriously.
8 p.m. We log onto a Zoom call with our family, who are spread all over the West Coast. Twelve people join tonight. We laugh, we vent, we plan ahead, and we talk about how we’re managing. We always end on a positive note.
Sunday, March 29
Wa Nity Canthra / EyeEm
8 a.m. Another silver lining of our lockdown, we have time to fine tune our farming campaigns, ask for more testimonials and update our list of service providers. We know we won’t have time for this once the market swings back into high gear.
2 p.m. I take a buyer through a home using a 3D Matterport tour. It’s a $6 million Victorian in Pacific Heights. We discuss the market, trends, and expectations. I work on my business as if it were a normal Sunday workday, because once Monday comes, we’ll be back to the home-schooling regimen.
11 p.m. As I drift off to sleep, I think about the people on the front lines risking everything. I visualize what our world will be like when we can return to “normal”, and what parts of normal are worth going back to. I hope mankind takes away some valuable lessons and can find a way to be in harmony with the planet. I know we are all looking forward to getting back into our routines, social lives, and getting out again — though this time — with more wisdom, compassion, and love to go around.
Arrian Binnings is a co-founder of the Payton + Binnings Team, one of the top selling teams in San Francisco and Marin Counties. He and his wife, Sejal Binnings, partnered with Payton Stiewe in 2010 in order to leverage their diverse individual strengths for the benefit of their clientele. Payton + Binnings consists of four full-time agents and an executive assistant and is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top performing teams by The Wall Street Journal/Real Trends.
Arrian’s career in real estate began in 2002 when he started and ran a successful real estate appraisal company. He transitioned to real estate sales in 2007 and continues to rely heavily on his valuation expertise to advise clients on their constantly-evolving property values and all the nuances involved.
Inman Diaries is a weekly feature tracking the day-to-day activities of America’s leading real estate agents and brokers. To submit a diary, please send requests to Diary@Inman.com.