SCORE

The Coronavirus Real Estate Market

Covid-19 and the after-effects have turned the world upside down. If you’re a realtor, you might be wondering how to recover your business as states slowly open back up and return to the “new normal.”

The good news is that despite significant financial and economic impacts, real estate in the U.S. is still hot. According to recent data from Realtor.com:

  • Median listing prices grew 9.9 percent due to a combination of eager buyers, low mortgage rates, and reduced inventory.
  • Total inventory is down 36 percent, which further proves the reduced availability of houses and increase of motivated, active buyers, despite the pandemic.

What’s more, Redfin reported that 41 percent of their sales this spring faced bidding wars. This is not a time to pull back, but instead, to push ahead. If you’re ready to bring new life to your business despite Covid-19, here are a few strategies to leverage this unique market landscape.

Keep Updated on Your State’s Guidelines (and Be Patient)

Every state has different Covid-19 guidelines for the various aspects of your business, like open houses or home tours. What’s more, because of the fluctuating nature of the pandemic, those regulations often change.

Be clear on what you’re allowed to do in your city and state to show your sellers you’re not taking this lightly while you bring them through the home buying process during a pandemic. For example, you may need to advise sellers to open all doors and cupboards to prevent exposure to high-touch surfaces.

It’s also critical that you understand how the current state of Covid-19 can impact other elements of the home buying and selling process. For example, escrow, closing process, inspections, or other activities may have a shifting set of regulations to follow, causing delays. Many states have enacted addendums or clauses to their real estate contracts, as well—learn more about those at HomeLight—so both you and your client will need to exercise patience for processes that aren’t as streamlined.

Bottom line, stay informed, and up to date to set the proper expectations for your clients.

Get Comfortable with Virtual Home Tours

Even before the pandemic, buyers wanted the option of virtual tours. According to Realtor’s 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Report, 46 percent of all buyers and 48 percent of buyers ages 39 to 63 said virtual home tours are “very useful” in the home buying process.

Given the nature of the virus, clients may be reluctant to host or attend as many showings as they would normally. As such, the initial buying stages have transitioned to digital and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Now is the time to get comfortable with virtual tours. When providing the tour, you can offer three options:

  1. Pre-recorded walk-through video: This is the least interactive digital option. However, it does give interested buyers a better perspective on the layout of the home and spatial awareness, rather than images alone. Typically, agents, photographers, or videographers slowly walk through the entire home, then add descriptive text in post-production or share their insights as they go from room to room.
  2. 360-virtual tours: Virtual, 360-degree tours allow viewers to fully explore a home on their computer or device. They can see an entire room, zoom in on an area, shift their viewpoint and truly understand the overall floor plan and layout of a house. To start creating your 3D walkthroughs, refer to this list of the best real estate virtual tour software. Alternatively, Zillow offers a free 3D virtual tour app, which you can use to create tours with your smartphone.
  3. Live, video-chat tours: If your client isn’t comfortable or unable to visit a home, you can tour the property while video chatting with them. Follow these helpful pointers on virtual showings from Mabel Guzman, the VP of the National Association for Realtors.

Don’t Neglect Marketing

You’ve probably heard the common adage, “When times are good, you should advertise, when times are bad, you MUST advertise.” When you hit turbulence, you might instinctively focus on hard-selling tactics to close more deals or cut back on non-essential budget items. However, marketing should not be neglected as you recover from Covid-19.

First, marketing, especially digital marketing, is a long-term strategy. It’s not possible to hit pause and then resume with the same results. Consistency is key, especially when you want to bolster sales and stay front of mind with your target audience.

Secondly, because people have been at home, they’re consuming media at an all-time high (I.E., more reach for your marketing). According to a recent report, in the later stages of the pandemic, web browsing increased by 70 percent, traditional TV viewing by 63 percent, and social media engagement by 63 percent, compared to normal usage rates.

Here are some marketing ideas to consider during Covid-19, according to Mashvisor:

  • Start a podcast—or be a guest on other real estate shows.
  • Develop video content for YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Start hosting real estate webinars for buyers or sellers.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile and post regularly.
  • Make your website mobile-friendly.

Educate and Reassure Clients

Because the housing market is moving through a unique moment, you need to master client relations now more than ever. Buyers and sellers have no idea what’s going to happen with the economy or how to navigate constant changes. Being a knowledgeable, flexible, and responsive agent will help you stand out from the competition.

Educate and reassure your clients on what they can expect, especially with first-timers, who might be reluctant to step in the market at such a volatile time. For example, one of the best advantages of buying post-Covid is historically low-interest rates. Ensure that your clients understand that equates to increased purchasing power and significant savings over the next 30 years.

Since the selling process can take longer due to Covid-related lags, be as helpful as possible. according to Zillow’s 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report nearly all sellers (95 percent) are stressed by the process,. Your job is to ease their burden with your expertise. Help buyers organize their paperwork and feel comfortable and confident when submitting an offer or saying “yes” to a buyer.

Level Up Your Real Estate Business Post-Covid

The pandemic has altered much of our life, but people still need to buy and sell their homes. When you pivot your strategy and workflow, you can recover and even increase your real estate business while offering clients an exceptional experience.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

CEO, SCORE

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