image of Jenna McKay Compass agent
Compass agent Jenna McKay.

With just four years in NYC, and three years in real estate sales under her belt, Jenna McKay is a relatively new agent. What she may lack in years of experience however, she makes up for in tenacity. McKay moved to NYC in 2016, and in just four years has built a strong book of business with Compass, where she utilizes the company’s philosophy for high touch and high tech to build her own brand. For her, that means a relationship-first approach where she focuses her energy on understanding where her clients are coming from and what they’re after, and selects technology that allows her to work smarter, not harder. 

As McKay worked from home, aiming to keep business running as effectively and safely as possible during the coronavirus outbreak in NYC, she took a minute to virtually sit down with StreetEasy and share a few stories and tips about working with clients to adapt to changing times. 

Explore Virtual Tour Options

 “My sellers on the Upper East Side have invested money into decluttering and painting their home,” says McKay. “With the lockdown in place, we are now working on a virtual tour solution that will allow them to market their home during these uncertain times.”

Think a virtual tour won’t sell? Think again. Days before New York’s “stay at home” order was announced, McKay closed a deal, sight unseen. “My buyers from Los Angeles decided to move forward on a co-op in Greenwich Village based on a virtual tour that I provided using my iPhone,” McKay says. What may have been a shock-and-awe story in the past is a new normal for plenty of people looking to buy in today’s market. If agents can’t access the unit themselves, there are plenty of ways to get creative with tour options. 

Tip for agents: See if your listing agents are open to working with their sellers, or even property occupants, to safely create a tour via an iPhone or a 3D camera using the free 3D Home® app from Zillow. Agents can also add YouTube and Vimeo links to any listing on the Photos & Media tab.

Call in Trusted Representatives

Many New Yorkers temporarily left the city once it was dubbed the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. “While many buyers are operating from other locations, there are still deals to be done,” explains McKay. “My buyer is in Miami, but used power of attorney to close on a co-op on the Upper West Side last week, electing to have her real estate attorney represent her for the closing.”

Tip for agents: If you’ve got clients who left the city amid virus concerns, and wonder if they should put their search on hold, do your research and present them with options like virtual tours, power of attorney, virtual notarizations and so forth.

Offer Options Up Front

Helping clients understand the new normal upfront can save the deal at the end of the day. “My buyers in Cobble Hill were struggling to set a closing date due to their bank not accepting virtual notarizations,” McKay says. This was before Cuomo’s executive order allowing remote notarizations, and eventually, they were able to close, but the whole thing could have gone smoother, had they worked with a different bank upfront.

Tip for agents: If your client is at the beginning of their search and looking to get pre-approved, help them research which banks allow virtual notarizations from the beginning, and help them select a bank that will be flexible through the process.

Expect Things to Change

McKay is seeing some clients cool off on their search, and others turn up the gas. “After only seeing the apartment once, my buyer in Chelsea decided to move forward with an offer, but ultimately it fell through.” During times like these, some buyers are even more hungry to get a deal done and might be aggressive enough to make an offer after only one visit, or in another case, sight unseen. “I worked with a rockstar listing agent who sent me lots of photos and videos of another unit in the same building in Chelsea. Ultimately my client put in an offer, completely sight unseen, and it was accepted. He likely won’t visit the place in-person until the deal closes.” 

Tip for agents: During times like these, buyers and sellers have plenty to feel uncertain about, and information changes daily. A client who is bullish one day may balk the next, so it’s important to constantly check in to get a sense of how they’re feeling. It’s also important to be open to the idea that they may want to move forward sight unseen and may change their minds throughout the process. 

Hey, agents! Do you have stories and tips about how you’re continuing to do business despite the massive COVID-19 disruption? We may want to feature you here or elsewhere. Please drop us a line at and tell us your story.