Garrett Frakes’ View on Why Cities Are Still Loveable

The post-pandemic mindset driving buyers to cities and driving up prices.

Garrett Frakes

As our cities reawaken, people are falling back in love with city life, companies are recommitting to in-person offices, and buyers are taking notice. We sat down with Polaris Pacific Managing Partner Garrett Frakes to get his take on the post-pandemic urban buyer mindset. In the interview he shares his strategies for navigating challenging markets, and his approach to standing tall for big, bold, eccentric urban life.

How has the homebuyer profile changed from during to and after the pandemic?
People who remained in cities during the pandemic saw a unique purchase opportunity, particularly in the high density condominium market.

Post-pandemic, people who left cities are coming back, rental prices are much higher, and buying is looking like a good option. Why pay 3-4K in rent if you can own? They see rates rising and are assured cities are a good investment.

Prospective buyers are likely sitting on saved money and their families know this is a good time to buy and want to help. And more people on the streets gives people the confidence to invest in cities once again.

What strategies does Polaris Pacific have for dealing with challenging real estate markets?
Eisenhower said “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
That was the case during the pandemic.

Sales beget sales. In real estate, when building sales stall out, things fall apart really fast. If you can show sales—any sales—people see it’s a good investment and they buy.

Commit to cities. We have an exceptionally seasoned team. A majority went through the 2008 Financial Crisis. They know our cities are top-notch locations and they help buyers understand their value.

Revise expectations and keep pushing. There’s too much at stake to shrug your shoulders and wait it out. Even if it’s down to just one sale at a time, you have to make progress.

Truly connect with buyers. We’re set up for buyers based anywhere in the world to virtually view a property and go through the whole sales process without ever physically walking through the front door. And we have a CRM which has been custom-built to handle all the real estate nitty-gritty so our agents can focus on what matters: people.

Stay nimble with a test-and-learn approach. We’re always testing new ways to do real estate. Because everyone was experiencing the same uncertainties during the pandemic, what worked in one market could be applied to another. And because our teams are separated by location, we test things in one place and if successful, we roll the tactics out in our other locations.

During the pandemic some people called this the final death of city life—why do you think cities still matter and believe they will succeed?
Cities are integral to how we live. Cities are surprising and dynamic and generate amazing personalities, art, music, architecture, and experiences that you can’t have anywhere else. Even the suburbs will suffer if cities don’t work. We’ve got to take care of our cities, otherwise they hollow out and the cycle is incredibly hard to reverse. That’s why returning to the office is critical for cities to thrive—especially in areas with high employer concentration.

Companies want cities to succeed. You can’t replicate in-person work on a video call. In-person, people are mentally and emotionally present. There’s a commitment to the act of showing up in-person. People crave the community, energy, and serendipity from physically engaging with one another. Employees are happy to be back.

Polaris Pacific believes in cities. We’re optimistic and hopeful. We’ve seen the positive impacts on homeownership in the last few months as buyers’ confidence continues to grow from seeing people filling our sidewalks. We still believe tomorrow will be better than today, and remind ourselves to do what cities do best: Be Bold. Stand Tall.

“Cities are surprising
& dynamic
& generate amazing experiences”
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