There’s no dancing around it: The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting individuals and industries across the globe, and real estate agents face rising challenges of their own.
To “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of COVID-19, local governments are joining the CDC and recommending social distancing — reducing close contact between people. That has an immediate effect on real estate agents, who rely heavily on in-person contact to do business.
Open houses, listing presentations, meetings with potential clients, private showings — these are all done in person because buying or selling a home is one of the biggest and most important personal finance decisions that people make. Engaging with people, in real life, drives every aspect of how agents make a living.
Understandably, people are more cautious right now. Some cities are already seeing drops in open house attendance. We noted an 11% drop in open houses between the first and second weeks of March. Buyers will be less likely to attend open houses that’ll be bustling with strangers; sellers will feel the same way about opening their home to groups of unknown guests, too. Agents will also want to prioritize their own safety, weighing the cost of doing business against the risk of open houses for the health of themselves, their clients and the community.
That leaves agents in a particularly tough predicament because in-person events like open houses are integral for their business. They are reliable opportunities to generate leads and get new clients. Real estate agents rely on commission checks to support themselves, and the snowball effect of missing those opportunities is very real.
So how can agents keep their business running when they can’t meet face-to-face with people?
Homesnap was built for agents and brokers, and we are thinking of them in this critical moment. Technology is a valuable asset for agents who want to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their business, and there are tools that already exist so they can shift to a stronger online strategy immediately.
To support agents as they navigate this moment, we want to highlight one of our free Homesnap Pro features that agents can use right now to grow their real estate business when they can’t meet in person.
Supplement in-person open houses with video
The agents who can make their digital interactions as personal as possible will put themselves at an instant advantage right now, and video is the key. Many agents already use video as a proxy to convey their personality and their listings when a client can’t be there in person (e.g. using FaceTime to show a listing to an out-of-town client). The tools already exist, so they’re available for agents who want to instantly adapt their business plans in the coming weeks.
An easy win is adding a video tour to your listing, to recreate the feeling of walking through the home for potential buyers. Homesnap Pro agents can use the free Homesnap Stories feature to add a video tour directly to their listing on Homesnap.
Agents can record themselves walking through the home, pointing out its selling points while also getting that all-important opportunity to let their personality shine on camera. Homesnap Stories operate almost identically to Facebook and Instagram Stories (and can be shared directly on those channels, too), with the added benefit that Homesnap Stories appear alongside listing photos so buyers can get an immersive visual experience when browsing.
This extends beyond listings, too. Agents using Android devices can add Agents Stories to their Homesnap Profiles as a way to introduce prospects and new clients to their business, too (coming soon to iOS).
Share your listings on social media
You can easily turn that aforementioned Homesnap Story into an Instagram or Facebook Story — share it with the push of a button onto two of the biggest online networks out there and get instant exposure.
If you want to promote it further, you can put advertising dollars behind it as well. When thinking about adjusting your marketing plan, remember: There will be buyers and sellers who still want to move right now, too. They might be pulled by lower rates, existing arrangements, or the potential of less competition in the market. Whatever the case, your digital marketing strategy will continue to be an effective way to reach those people.
You want to do right by your seller, and this is one big way to use video as a supplement to open houses so you can still close a successful deal. Moreover, if you don’t want to do video, you can always just share your listing directly on Facebook and Instagram.
Act on what you can control right now
We’re all trying to balance how to react to breaking news about COVID-19, prioritizing keeping ourselves and the people we work with safe, while also mitigating how detrimental those changes are to our businesses. Even here at Homesnap, we are making adjustments to that degree, working remotely as a company to keep the well-being of employees in mind, and taking advantage of video technology and other online tools to ensure that we maintain those invaluable personal connections. Those relationships make businesses stronger.
Agents can’t control how buyers and sellers are going to react to COVID-19 and how hesitant or apprehensive prospects will be about coming to an open house or meeting in person. But agents can control how they mitigate the impact on their business — and it starts with deploying a robust action plan online, where they can still get in front of the right buyers and sellers.