In challenging times, it’s a smart idea to revisit the fundamentals of good business. This April, go Back to Basics with Inman.
For years, the mantra “video is king” has been seen as the currency of social media and progressive entrepreneurs. But it has also been an optional currency.
Now, as we have seen across all industries, video is no longer optional. It’s essential to communication while social distancing. (In case you missed it, all of the news programs, classrooms, churches and business meetings are being conducted via phone and laptop video.)
As a silver lining during this unconventional season, video is becoming more of a default socially required setting. This means that those who previously felt insecure about being on camera are adapting to the change. Those who saw videos as inferior to a firm handshake are realizing the need for virtual touches, too. And, those who did not have the time to learn, are taking advantage of it now.
This means that real estate pros who have been slow to adopt video before social distancing now get to catch up, which helps our entire industry thrive instead of being outdone by newfangled, disruptive technology.
That’s all well and good, but video can also be a double-edged sword that can get us into trouble.
You may have read advice on how to help clients get the most out of video tours, such as this post, which does a great job in noting all the questions that clients would want to know. But, unfortunately, how we answer those and similar questions can expose us to violating policies and laws.
Are you unintentionally getting yourself into trouble when all you’re trying to do is serve during this new normal? Find out through the video above, or read a recap below. Here are some of the big mistakes you might be making:
- Not reviewing policies. Go ahead and review the social media and video policy of your firm and your local real estate commission. You or your team can face trouble when you don’t stay current on the video policy and parameters of your local real estate commission.
- Not getting permission before recording a video of a listing that’s not yours. Some sellers don’t want videos of their homes, especially if you’re going to be sending it or posting it somewhere. If you’re not the listing agent, you might not readily know this. This is why you need to ask for permission.
- Not getting that permission in writing. You are the safest when you can get permission in writing. As basic as this sounds, a lot of people overlook this step when they’re eager to serve their clients.
- Diagnosing a home based on what you see or don’t see. If you’re not a home inspector, but act like one and give subjective answers, you might get yourself into trouble. Don’t give commentary, and set that expectation from the get-go. Instead, let your video or official documents from the seller, county and the like do the talking.
- Don’t give answers to questions about sound levels around the home. You can turn up the sound in your video and allow your clients to hear what it’s like. It’s not your job to gauge. What may be noisy to you, may be quiet to someone else and vice versa.
- Making guesses about the direction the natural light is coming from. People want homes facing a certain direction, and a lot of agents in the past have given wrong answers to this — even after using a compass. The safest thing to do is not go outside your area of expertise. Don’t give advice about things that your real estate license doesn’t give you jurisdiction over.
- Not giving a source when talking about the closeness of neighbors’ homes. If you’re able to get mentions of the land lot from the proper source — the city, the county or the seller — that’s great. Don’t take your measuring stick outside to determine anything. (Fences, for example, may be in places that don’t define the boundaries of the property.)
- Making comments on creaking floors, other sounds and possible odors in the house. This is a good opportunity for you to recommend your list of trusted inspectors. Inspectors should be the ones identifying these things, not you. As I mentioned earlier, make these expectations known, and always encourage your clients to get a professional inspector instead.
- Providing opinions on the landscaping’s level of maintenance. “Well-maintained” might mean something completely different to different people. Don’t put yourself in jeopardy of getting sued over this. Make sure to capture everything on video, and let the video show those details.
- Comparing what the property looks like in person versus listing photos. Even if clients ask, try to just refer them to the video. Let them come to their own conclusions.
We want to be helpful, but a lot of the things that people want to know about a home are, like I said earlier, subjective. It’s all based on personal taste, which is very different from person to person. You can end up giving them an answer that may be misleading.
We know these things when we are not in crisis mode, but during these critical times, it’s even more important that we ground ourselves and remember the basics.
Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google+, or visit her website.
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