It’s fair to say that during the pandemic, open houses — a mainstay of the residential real estate business — went through a significant shift. With a highly competitive buyer’s market and limited capacity, listing agents have had to get extra creative when showing houses.
We saw virtual home tours, as well as in-person tours by appointment only become the norm. Are some of these changes here to stay?
While it’s hard to deny the convenience of traditional open house events, they can also be anxiety-provoking for many agents, especially in a tight housing market. So, let’s consider three lessons learned from the digital pandemic world, and how you can transfer those lessons to the post-pandemic real estate market.
1. Remember you’re selling a lifestyle, not (just) a piece of property
Realtors who were most successful during the past 18 months figured out how to sell a lifestyle through video home tours. Today’s buyers have watched enough HGTV to know that they can change out fixtures and upgrade a kitchen.
So, falling in love with a property is not about square footage. It’s about how the home and neighborhood make them feel. This means it’s essential for you to paint a picture for potential buyers of what their new life could be like.
Video is a great vehicle for conveying emotion, and virtual home tours are not going away any time soon, so if you never really got used to going digital during the pandemic, there’s no time like the present. And of course, when it comes to doing in-person showings, you’ll want to remember to hit these emotional notes as well.
Also, selling a lifestyle is about details, details, details. Whether you’re streaming live or guiding potential buyers through the home during a traditional open house, start your narrative outside, leading them through the front entrance.
Then, proceed through each room showing closet space, pointing out upgrades and finishes, as well as extras like the view from the master bedroom or balcony. Of course, you’ll want to take some time to talk about the neighborhood, local amenities, schools and other highlights too.
2. Promote your brand through earned media
Another lesson the pandemic has taught real estate agents about marketing and branding is that partnerships are gold. If prior to 2020, you were relying on in-person networking events or live events to meet prospects and fill your pipeline, you quickly learned how to pivot. And you likely pivoted to shoring up your relationships.
One type of business partnership that is often overlooked, but is incomparable when it comes to promoting your brand, is your relationship with local media. Team up with local magazines to run a monthly real estate column, or pitch yourself to local radio hosts. Podcast hosts are a great target as well. Once you’ve established these relationships, you’ll be able to promote your brand more freely.
When you share content that is always relevant to your community of buyers and sellers, you can quickly become the go-to real estate expert in your market. Of course, after your article, column or interview is published, you’ll want to post on all your social media channels to reach even more prospects.
3. There are many paths to scale your real estate business
If there’s anything being locked down has taught us, it’s that flexibility is a superpower. This is a lesson we should absolutely carry forward into the new normal. So as you think about how to grow your real estate business, let flexibility be your guide.
Here are some ideas for scaling inspired by how other agents have pivoted in the past several months:
- Partner with an agent in another state to target buyers looking for a second home. Many Americans have built up considerable savings in the past year, so a vacation home may be in the cards. You can capitalize on this newly emerging market. Also, this strategy allows you to expand your business even if your local market feels saturated.
- Combine a highly targeted digital approach with a personalized, referral-based strategy: You can use digital lead generation tools to target a specific niche, while working your network to nurture referrals. Who says you can’t work multiple angles for lead generation?
- Expand your target prospecting area: Because during the pandemic, we have seen a trend of buyers leaving bigger cities, there may be opportunities for you if you’re willing to expand your coverage area. Also, don’t be surprised if the buyers moving out of the city change their minds in a year or two. Keeping in touch with your buyers has never been more lucrative.
As we enter a post-pandemic world, open houses will likely be going back to the way they were. But it’s likely that buyers will also continue to expect virtual home tours and appointments to tour in-person.
With the above three lessons in mind, real estate agents can use their special sauce to engage buyers — and get that listing sold.