In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
Pandemic. Social distancing. Remote work. In this era of coronavirus, everyone is trying their best to navigate our new normal and establish some business continuity in the face of total uncertainty. For agents and brokers who rely on relationships, referrals and personal interaction to get and close deals, this can seem like a daunting task. There are, however, ways to work around these hurdles.
We recently hosted a webinar entitled, “How to navigate the housing market post COVID-19″ and asked some of our friends in the industry — Steven Wener of eXp in San Diego, David Kurz from Kurz Team and eXp Realty in Miami, and Matt Boyce from Garden State Home Loans — to offer their thoughts and advice for how to best weather this storm.
The discussion centered on turning this challenge into an opportunity. The takeaway? Four best practices all agents can start implementing today.
1. Stay relevant by serving as a resource
Remaining top-of-mind among your buyers, sellers and professional network is still critical during this crisis, but how you go about communicating and what you say when you do has never been more important. According to Kurz, “This is all about community, bringing value and educating your audience.”
Take social media as an example. All agree that taking the time to create valuable content and share it across social channels is something every agent can be doing right now to stay relevant.
Kurz encourages his team to, “be the agent that provides clients with really good information to help them make well-educated decisions.” He notes, “You don’t want to be known as a meme generator or fill their newsfeed with propaganda.” Offer clients relevant insights and information from credible third-party sources, and then highlight how it could impact them directly.
Boyce adds, “Everyone should be leveraging their existing expertise. All those intelligent conversations you are already having with buyers and sellers is exactly the kind of thing other people want to hear about.” By putting yourself and your ideas out there, agents and brokers have an opportunity to position themselves as experts.
It’s worth noting that you need to consider what the right cadence of communication might be and always be consistent in your messaging. Wener noted, “We all need to be human. It’s not about selling, but about checking in on people and genuinely asking them how they are doing. No one wants a robotic agent. This is real life, and we are all in this together.” And I might add, that’s how relationships are built.
2. Technology: It’s now or never
If you haven’t made the move to become a digitally enabled business, now is the time. Video tours, chatbots, communication apps, customized email campaigns, CRM systems – all of it has place in today’s socially distant world. And as agents create more and more relevant content, leveraging these systems is a proven opportunity to get the word out, foster interaction (virtually speaking), and move business forward.
Let’s look at CRM systems as an example this time. Those applications custom-built for the real estate industry are designed to not just manage your customers and prospects, but to engage them and move them to action.
Boyce noted, “I am known as Mr. CRM around our office, and we call our system a databank not a database.” He added that taking the time now to organize your system and capitalize on the technical innovations offered will help all agents better understand their sources of leads and metrics for closings.
This is especially relevant as agents start implementing virtual home tours and other tech-enabled tools. Gaining insight into what works and what doesn’t and prioritizing as needed will ensure the leads that are most likely to close do so. Plus, these platforms can bring much-needed efficiency to the real estate operations process.
Not sure which application is best for you or your firm? Try before you buy. According to Boyce, “I took about 12 different real estate applications for a test drive before making a purchasing decision.” (I’ll let you guess which one he selected). Even Keller Williams President Josh Team agrees; Agents that are embracing technology and learning their craft are the ones who will survive and guide people through these strange times.
3. Do your homework
Despite the varying levels of inventory in any given market, there will undoubtedly be increased competition for listings and for properties.
Wener notes that in San Diego, inventory was already incredibly low, and yet demand (even in the rental market) is incredibly high, so good properties will still move. Couple that with historically low mortgage rates – 3.75 percent at last check – and that makes houses that much more affordable to people all over the country who are still in a position to buy.
However, not every opportunity and not every buyer are created equal. Take the time to research and understand your own unique market. Kurz suggests agents really do their due diligence to make sure buyers are in fact qualified before getting too far down the path.
This applies to mortgage lenders as well. Given the low interest rates, some of the industry’s biggest lenders were already backed up and now have limited resources to expedite additional applications.
To avoid the logjam, Boyce suggests two things. First, get your application in so you can lock in the best rate when the timing is right, and second, consider going local with your lender. “Find a lender that has a good reputation locally as they will make sure to take care of you.”
4. Embrace the challenge
The old way of doing things has been upended. And while this is unchartered territory for all of us, it’s time to embrace the discomfort. Push yourself to step outside your comfort zone and write the content, shoot the video, email your contacts and showcase your expertise. It’s about starting a conversation.
All of our partners agree that now is the time to talk about what’s going on. Intelligently tie it to your business, and be authentic about it. If you are looking to grow your team, be on the lookout for those who are serving as teachers and coaches during this current situation. Kurz believes they are the successful agents of tomorrow.
A favorite saying of mine is: “It’s only a cost in the absence of value.” In other words, value is worth paying for as it is not a cost but rather a path to opportunity. Today, people need value more than ever – especially in this time of crisis.
Showing your value and investing in things that help showcase your expertise and relevance are worth pursuing. Real estate agents and brokers have a real opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It won’t be easy, but putting these best practices into effect will lead to the level of resilience needed for our industry to weather the storm.