At a time when in-person real estate activity has been banned in many states due to the spread of COVID-19, agents and brokers are getting extra creative. Every state has different rules, which is forcing agents to come up with plans on a fly without a one-size-fits-all approach.
A discussion about how agents are pulling off home showings amidst the pandemic took place during Inman’s virtual town hall series in a session titled “Best Practices for Virtual Showings,” moderated by Laura Monroe, Inman News’ global head of community.
The discussion featured insights from Debra Beagle, managing broker and co-owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage in Nashville, and Tommy Choi, the founder of Weinberg Choi Residential, a team affiliated with Keller Williams Chicago Lincoln Park.
Setting expectations and communicating with clients
Choi’s team is managing expectations by resetting them.
“At the end of the day, what we’re finding is, they’re not looking for us to predict the future, they’re looking to us to be leaders, to be advisors, to be mentors,” Choi said.
He explained that it’s important to let the sellers know that their process might look different, but the results are going to be the same.
Choi explained that it’s important to reach out to clients to check in with them, via a phone call or video message. You should start by not having a real estate conversation, which won’t come off as disingenuous if you show that you really care.
“The authenticity comes out because I truly care,” Choi said.
Choi said business will come up eventually because the client will reciprocate the conversation and ask you how business is, or how the real estate market is faring.
Beagle created an agent website to provide up to date information on changes to state orders and what’s allowed or not allowed. She is also encouraging her agents to reach out to clients via Facebook or Bomb Bomb, a video email tool.
“That’s going up and up, more of our agents are doing that — reaching out to clients and checking in,” Beagle said.
How to actually show properties, virtually or not
Beagle starts with preparing the sellers and having them step out of the home while the photographer goes through the house. She has the sellers make sure to turn all the lights on and leave all the doors open and put the toilet seat lids down, so the photographer while wearing a mask and gloves, doesn’t have to touch anything.
“There’s minimal contact as possible,” Beagle said.
She told her agents to communicate with the buyers’ agent as much as possible time-wise to make sure there are no overlapping showings. There’s been more cooperation and communication than in the past, Beagle said.
She’s also having her agents create Facebook Live tours of each home and then created a Facebook Group for her brokerage to upload all of the Facebook Live tours, so consumers can see all of the virtual home tours in one place.
Choi said showing homes in his home market of Chicago is like a choose your own adventure scenario right now. He starts with asking buyers if they want to physically go into homes and asking buyers if they want people in their homes.
“From there, we branch out into different options,” Choi said.
For virtual showings, Choi said the key is to remember, when you’re doing a walk through, that people aren’t watching a video to find out how many units are in a building, or what the homeowners association fees are.
“They are there to find out about the physical property,” Choi said. “They don’t have the ability to open doors. You have to legitimately walk through the property and show them what’s behind doors.”