As we continue to navigate the ever-changing, rocky road ahead, it’s difficult to ignore just how much our lives and industries were uprooted when the coronavirus tornado hit a few months ago.
Not a soul on this planet is immune to the suffering, pain and torment that the pandemic brought on, one way or another. For some this is relative, but many of us are still genuinely struggling both emotionally and financially.
Although “adjustment” might seem like a soft word to describe our response to a myriad of new obstacles, our industry is resilient and will persevere as it has many times in the past. We’re already beginning to see a strong uptick in marketplace activity, proving that our businesses will continue to grow as long as we tweak some of our methods and approaches.
For me, quarantine was almost an unwelcome gift — an otherwise nonexistent moment in time to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts used to better myself and open my mind to the ways in which I can improve my business methods and serve my clients more effectively.
I took time for self-care. I stayed connected with my friends, family, colleagues, clientele and the general public. I innovated some strategies. And I chose to rethink my business plans and acknowledge where they were lacking.
It’s impossible to ignore the inherent difficulties associated with the current state of things, but we can rise above it and evolve in the process. So, here are five productivity tips for living in a virtual real estate world.
1. Always stay connected with your sphere
First and foremost, it’s now more important than ever that we reach out to our clients and remind them that we’re here for them outside of just their real estate needs.
As we all know, our jobs as real estate professionals extend well beyond our responsibilities to help our clients properly navigate the real estate transaction. For many buyers and sellers, it’s an incredibly emotional process and experience — one that requires a level of support that takes on many different forms.
Over the months and years that we spend with our clients, we cultivate a certain kind of friendship. It’s that friendship that requires us to regularly check in, not just throughout the active process but even long after closing.
Ask how they’re coping with today’s challenges. Reiterate how you can serve as a resource and a shoulder to lean on, no matter the circumstances. This is a sure way to set yourself apart from those agents whose sole interests begin and end with the commission.
Make sure to convey to your clients how you will take those extra steps to ensure their safety and well-being. This is especially important when touring buyers and bringing strangers into your sellers’ homes. We must make sure our clients are comfortable, and we have to work extra hard to preserve that comfort.
2. Enhance your virtual marketing materials
It appears that the relevance and importance of virtual marketing will heavily contribute to the success of our businesses long after the coronavirus threat disappears.
Our industry is constantly evolving, and we can’t disregard the fact that we must regularly adapt to best serve our clients and customers. There will be many buyers moving forward who choose to do the bulk of their home searching digitally from the comfort of their homes.
To market our listings most effectively, we must provide a plethora of virtual marketing materials so that our listings shine as brightly as possible. For example, 3D virtual walk-throughs will certainly be a mandatory tool that we’ll all incorporate as part of our regular sales tactics. This allows viewers to essentially walk through a home without ever having to physically step foot inside.
Additionally, uniquely curated videos with innovative approaches that showcase the character of a home might also prove incredibly beneficial. Choose your background music carefully, and bring personality to the content.
Many will find average run-of-the-mill listing videos boring and unmemorable. Although there’s no substitute for traditional showings, these additional mediums will hopefully help your listing stand out — so much so that buyers will then consider your listing worthy of seeing in person.
3. Familiarize yourself with virtual procedures
Whether working with buyers or sellers, the nature of our industry has always relied on personal connections and hands-on obligations to carry a deal, from identifying a property all the way to closing.
Given that the conventional methods we implement have been rendered more or less temporarily obsolete, we must do what we can to facilitate a certain level of normalcy that we’re all accustomed to.
Rather than speaking with your clients over the phone, use video calls to preserve that personal element that’s typically achieved in your correspondence. Review content with your clients digitally, and schedule virtual tours for the properties that rank highest on their lists.
Encourage your clients to work with attorneys experienced with COVID-19 closings and the necessary language that must be included in deal contracts. Assure them that their signatures can be accepted digitally, and that payments can be wired.
With respect to financing, refer your clients to brokers who are well-versed with the mortgage options that are being offered under today’s very special circumstances.
In certain cases, creative approaches will be required, as many lending institutions are restricting their otherwise more lenient practices. Prepare for virtual walk-throughs before closing and digital notaries, and explain the potential need to close in escrow.
4. Improve your digital footprint
The movement toward using social media platforms to increase lead generation and promote listings has long been underway. The weight of importance placed on us as agents to maintain an effective and well-curated social media presence is now of even greater significance.
The key to marketing yourself and your listings well on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn is ingenuity and authenticity. Your footprint can’t solely focus on your real estate goals and promoting achievements to move property and attract buyers.
Allow your sphere to get to know who you are, not only what you do. Have your own voice, and show people what you’re all about. This is different for each of us, which is why it’s crucial to be true to yourself.
Share hobbies and interests. Post engaging content so that your viewers not only see what you’re doing, but become active participants in your journey.
Ask questions that prompt answers. Be sure that your message doesn’t run the risk of offending anyone. If you need to have separate business and personal accounts, then do so.
We must understand that when our clients choose to work with us, their decision is based not only on our professional abilities and history of success, but also on their interpretations of who we are at our cores.
5. Invest in your work-from-home setup
While many agents nowadays (even pre-coronavirus) are leaning toward working from home, those of us who prefer an office environment need to accept that our homes must now double, at least temporarily, as workspaces.
To ensure productivity, invest in your work-from-home setup so you can achieve the same level of performance realized from an office. Designate a specific — and if possible, private — space that can be used solely for work.
A comfortable chair and a sizable desk are essential. You might be surprised by the dual purpose of existing furniture in your home and its ability to satisfy your needs. Make sure that you can organize and arrange your workstation so that it’s appropriately tailored to suit your style.
Keeping this place separate from the areas in your home that are intended for leisure is incredibly important. You don’t want to confuse the two. I also find multiple monitors or screens to be extremely useful for multitasking.
Understanding the methods that work best for you. Adapting can take a lot of guessing and checking. Be patient with yourself as you cruise through the varying pathways and options that present themselves. This takes time.
Determine how and when to allocate the amount of energy needed to land triumphantly on the other side of this situation, knowing that success is still possible even when times appear bleak.
Jeremy Kamm is a licensed real estate salesperson with Warburg Realty in New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn.