The wide-sweeping changes brought about by the recent COVID-19 pandemic were completely unprecedented, and although some agents had already embraced a decent amount of remote work tools, at the start of this year it would have been unthinkable that in most major markets we would no longer be able to even show homes.
So how do you handle this; do you put your business on hold for an indefinite period, quit and hide under a rock or claim unemployment like a lot of Realtors intend to?
If so, this article isn’t for you. But for those of you who know that it’s HOW you react to a shift in the market that defines the outcome, read on. A lot of us have already been through a previous housing recession and although it wasn’t as sudden and unexpected, surviving the change in buyer and seller behaviour took planning.
I had been a licensed agent for 4 years when things started to change in early 2008, and at that point decided that instead of just plowing ahead as if everything was fine, I made a conscious decision to shift. I made a move from a predominantly sales-focused brokerage to one specializing in apartment and home rentals. I rebranded my website to focus purely on that side of the business, but my long term goal hadn’t changed – I wanted to amass a HUGE amount of buyers for the future. And rentals were my path to reach that goal.
I taught myself SEO and PPC skills. I learnt how to build IDX websites in WordPress. And I started using a (then) sophisticated CRM to track every single one of my lease clients. I stayed in touch with all of my clients monthly, educating them on the current market, and often helped them lease multiple properties over the years, until we had formed a close bond and they wouldn’t even think of using another agent. And then, things turned a corner. Around late 2010 mortgages became easier to obtain and rates started falling. And over the next 4 years my team sold over $150MIL in real estate to my renter database and their network.
So while I may not have a crystal ball, I have been through something similar before and survived it. And I believe that agents who embrace change and adopt the tools that allow remote work to continue long into the psychological hangover that will follow this pandemic are the ones who will succeed.
So here are my top picks for tools to help you survive this trying time:
Zoom / Skype / Google Hangouts / WhatsApp / FaceTime
This is kind of a no brainer. While face-to-face restrictions are still in place across most of the US market, you still need face time with your clients. They need to understand that you are a person too, and despite this horrible situation, you’re still there for them and STILL WORKING. Every major marketing expert has been saying “video is king” for years now, but it’s become vital in these past few weeks. Conduct buyer presentations, listing presentations, open houses, client consultations and more using video conferencing. If your clients don’t currently use these tools, take the time to teach them. The positive knock on effect of you showing them how to communicate with their friends and family remotely might just be enough to help you secure their future business. Plus, just LOOK how happy everyone is in the sample image from Zoom! They’re having a great time.
No matter which way you look at it, Matterport is simply an amazing tool. Even before this crisis. When it first launched it was pretty difficult to find a photographer who was using it, but as adoption has increased prices have also come down. This is the THE virtual tour tool I would recommend everyone use and allows full 3D virtual walkthroughs from anywhere in the world. It also shows your clients you’re prepared to put your money where your mouth is and front the extra expense required on their listing. If you haven’t used it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. It can be a killer part of any listing presentation.
Have vacant listings? Get Rently. It’s a secure, fast, convenient way to allow prospective tenants and buyers to tour homes when you can’t be there. I used this for years on vacant rental listings to allow access and showings without wasting valuable agent time. Whether you love or hate iBuyers like OpenDoor, you should always be watching your competition. And one thing buyers love about their listings is the ability to tour homes themselves.
Having trouble getting a home inspector out but have a client who’s still adamant about moving forward with a purchase? According to our 50,000 home inspection study roofing defects are among the most expensive defects found during a home inspection. And Drone Deploy lets you perform detailed flyovers of any home in the US to look for problem issues. And OK, OK I know you’re not a home inspector, but you probably know a couple who might be willing to take a look at some pictures or even use the service themselves. Plus it’s just a really cool tool, connects to a ton of enterprise level apps and they’re also offering a FREE 14 day trial.
So let’s say you are a rockstar agent, you get a home under contract AND home inspections are still going in your area, what happens when your client turns around and asks you “How much will all this cost to fix?”?
More than likely contractors aren’t still (legally) operating in your area and the less people that visit any home right now the better. What you need is a fast, easy way to turn any home inspection report into a highly accurate repair estimate without ever leaving your house. That’s what we do at Repair Pricer – and although we weren’t designed to be used specifically during pandemics, we might as well have been. Download a free sample report now to see exactly how it works.
So there you have it. A virtual survival guide for agents who are stuck at home but still want to learn and grow during this difficult time. At the very least you’ll get to experience some new tools that can improve your efficiency and streamline your sales process. But hopefully more than anything they’ll help you grow your business during and after this pandemic.