Over the past two weeks, we have been pivoting our team away from our typical real estate activities and focusing on what we can do for our community, our clients and each other. Right now, Seattle is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, we prepped our team to take precautions, and we were very clear that we’re in recession mode. In some ways, we’re prepared for the recession part. For the past six months, we’ve been downsizing a lot of our extraneous spending.
We purposely invested in having Katie Lance do a massive review of our online presence. We also brought in Marguerite Martin, a professional real estate coach, to help us realign our mental perspective as we go into the next five years. We were prepared for a recession, but we were not necessarily prepped for an international pandemic.
Team Diva has always been nimble. We quickly stepped up to help our team pivot to our new reality. Below are the directions we gave our team — how to mentally support ourselves and protect our clients, prospecting activities and the content we needed to create to support our local community.
Personal care for yourself, the agent and leader
The coronavirus crisis and the economic fallout is going to last for months. You have to take a long view of all activities right now. I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep yourself in a good mental state. The following items are critical to making sure you emerge as a good and strong leader on the other side of this situation.
Note: Work from home, practice social distancing, and wash your hands! When you do this, you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re also saving our hospitals’ resources.
When you wake up every day, do something to put yourself in the right mindset — exercise, affirmations, gratitude and meditation. You have to train your brain for success right now. During the Great Recession, we purposely surrounded ourselves with people who had a positive perspective and could bring light into our lives. We tried to do the same thing for people around us.
Get rid of any extra spending as soon as possible. Open up one month’s transactions in your accounts, and calculate what you’re spending your money on. Is it critical or can you do away with it? Everyone needs to find an extra $2,000 to cut from their personal spending per month as quickly as possible.
If you need some help on how to do this, listen to a podcast with our financial coach, Chris Engle.
Team Diva is unique in a way because we bought a group health plan through Kaiser, and it includes our W-9 employees. We’re able to offer inexpensive health insurance for all of our team members.
Taking care of team members
Feeling sick? Refer the client to a team member. We all agree to support each other. We’ll pay the agent supporting the transaction 10 percent out of our referral income if it’s a Team Diva client. We’ll make each team member whole. People shouldn’t risk their lives or the lives of others just so they can make ends meet.
We have an office in a loft space that’s separate from our mothership at Coldwell Banker Bain. We closed the office this week, and everyone is working from home including the Diva Desk Dude, who has to work off the Big Mac for our marketing.
We made a few office hub changes, which included sterilizing and cleaning all of the lockboxes, as well as anything the public might touch. Our Monday huddle changed to a Zoom call. Also, we emailed our team an electronic copy of our listing, buyer and seller packets so members can share them with new and existing clients.
Asking clients health qualification questions
There are a few questions you need to ask before you meet anyone. I know this sounds invasive but we don’t know these folks, and it’s best to protect ourselves. Most people don’t want to transmit an illness to someone else, but they may not think to check how they’re feeling before a meeting. Better safe than sorry. Here’s what you can ask:
- Do you have a fever?
- Are you experiencing aches and pains?
- Do you have a cough?
- Are you having trouble breathing?
Changes for meeting with new sellers and buyers
Interactions with sellers and buyers need to change quickly. We are working on saving lives and still doing what we do in our daily lives.
Process to follow for new sellers
Team Diva is a powerhouse when it comes to online marketing. We have a very intense process that’s well-suited for listing your home in an age without traditional open houses. Below is the process of working with your new sellers.
First off, we’re only listing a home that’s vacant. No exceptions. It’s too dangerous to have strangers come into a home with people living in the residence.
- See if you can do the initial meeting virtually. Use Zoom or FaceTime to do a walk-through of the home.
- Send the pre-listing packet via email or share it directly using Zoom’s share documents.
- Get as much detail as possible using the listing checklist.
- Do the market analysis.
Starting the listing process:
- Ask the seller health qualification questions, and if everything is good, do the walk-through with the seller.
- Confirm the seller has moved out.
- Have the cleaners to do an initial bleach wipe-down of doorknobs and counters.
- Start work on the home.
- Follow the normal listing process.
Process for all buyers
Buyers are still buying homes in Seattle. This is also a good market for buyers who don’t have their money in the stock market. Think: first-time homebuyers with less than 10 percent down. In addition, who are the investors? There are a lot of landlords who are going to call it a day this season.
- Intakes: Move them online as much as possible using Zoom or Google Hangouts.
- Tour properties before you take your clients out.
- Meet your client at the house. No driving together.
- Make sure their down payment is in cash — now.
- Use jazz hands to say hello.
- No more personal checks — just earnest money via a wire transfer.
- Carry Clorox wipes for door handles and lockboxes when you tour. Wipe the box before keying yourself in a house. Carry gloves to open the house or if you have to touch door handles.
Existing listings marketing changes
People are still buying homes. We just have to do our jobs differently. Do what is needed to make homes safe by doing a thorough cleaning. Only show the home to a for-sure buyer. (There are lots of people who tour homes as a hobby.)
- Laminate the listing flyer, and staple it to the sign post.
- Opt for new signage that says, “If you want a private showing, please contact this number.” When the person responds, use the following triage.
- Verify if the person who wants to see the home is pre-approved. If not, send them the pre-approval email, and state that the sellers are specifically focused on working with buyers who are pre-approved. If they’re approved then move onto the next step.
- Verify if they have an agent. If they do, ask them to have their agent show the home. If they don’t, ask the health qualifying questions, and make a personal decision to show the house only to pre-approved buyers.
- Increase digital advertising, like Facebook and Google ads on all listings.
- Take advantage of virtual open houses. Livestream an open house using Facebook Live. Do a Facebook invite on your business page, and send out information via email. Katie Lance has great information about how to Facebook Live an event like an open house.
- Use Matterport. We’ve been using Matterport for all our listings for a while so people have more information about the home before they can up our digital game for those who don’t want to tour in person.
- Have masks, gloves and hand sanitizer available.
Prospecting during the time of coronavirus chaos
Check in with your clients and your community. A lot of people are at home and trapped with their kids who are home from school. Think about hosting a Zoom cocktail hour with a few of our favorite clients. Do something to stay connected beyond just “rates are low” behavior.
Prospecting actions to consider:
- Buy gift certificates from local business, and share them with your top clients.
- Send personal thank-you notes to recent clients.
- Reach out to stay-at-home parents. Ask them how they are doing.
- Remember the 1990s? Make a call. Trust me, someone is at home and probably desperate for human interaction.
- Follow your personal business plans.
Need some additional ideas? Marguerite Martin is doing free coaching calls this week for Realtors.
Content for the socials
Here are a few ideas for social media fodder:
- Community support during coronavirus crisis
- Where to get takeout from local restaurants
- Virtual shows to support local arts organizations
- Virtual yoga to keep your mind in the right space
- Ways to support the arts right now. (Don’t ask for your money back from arts shows.)
- Virtual open houses blogs with the Matterport and video.
- How to Marie Kondo your home.
- What to do with teens while you’re at home.
- Advice to buyers during a weird stock market.
I hope these ideas can help support your team during this time. We’re in for a major adjustment to our daily activities, and at the end of this, we will be different people. Be kind to yourself, reach out to your community, and know you’re doing the best you can do.