With shelter-in-place orders and social distancing affecting the way people interact with each other, coronavirus is changing the way Realtors show homes. Thankfully, all the restrictions aren’t halting home buying. Things may slow down, but finding ways around the current limitations to physical contact can mean the difference between continuing to sell homes and not. Agents need to stay up-to-date on what’s acceptable, and implement virtual alternatives where possible to keep things moving forward.
Because your city or county may have different coronavirus protocols than other locations, it’s best to check with your local government and review guidelines on a regular basis. When in doubt, use your best judgement and keep your distance. If you, or anyone in your household, exhibit symptoms connected with coronavirus — fever, cough, or shortness of breath — stay home. It’s also a good idea to work remotely as much as you can. This becomes a challenge when asked to show a property to potential buyers, but it’s still possible to stick to protocols and have a successful showing.
- Only allow essential people to physically see a property. Keep the number of people at a showing to the smallest number possible. Ideally, only someone whose name will be on the mortgage should view a property in person.
- Meet clients at the property instead of driving with them.
- Limit in-person showings to serious potential buyers who have verified they have the funds to purchase the home and have documentation of lender pre-qualification already available.
- Provide information to clients, relevant to a showing, in advance via electronic methods.
You should also pay attention to your agency or broker's internal policies. At Sundae Homes, we only accept offers from buyers who have physically seen a property. This cuts down on unserious offers, and prevents price changes further downstream in the process. For the safety of everyone, we reserve in-person showings for the most serious clients.
Regardless of your organization's policies, consider alternative ways to show a home before you get to the point of in-person showings.
The power of video
Showing a home digitally during coronavirus creates a huge opportunity. Not only does it minimize contact with others, but it can also create efficiency. Without the need of coordinating times and logistics for in-person showings, the sales process speeds up.
Digital home showings are also cost effective. As the agent, you can capture content directly on your phone, and then send or post it with little-to-no expense on your part. Here are a few ways digital is breaking through in real estate.
Making home showings virtual is perhaps the easiest way to get clients interested in seeing a home during the coronavirus outbreak. You can create content in advance and post online at the same time the listing goes live. This lets homebuyers see the property on their own time.
A variety of both free and paid apps are available with a wide range of features to help make creating virtual walkthroughs easier. Whether the homeowner is creating the video or you’ve opted to do it yourself, keep these pointers in mind:
- Lighting is everything. To get as much natural light into the shot as possible, open all curtains and switch on the lights in every room. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to get the cleanest natural light.
- Start from the curb. Don’t forget to get a full shot of the front of the house at the start of the video. Beginning with walking through the front door takes away the ‘wow factor’ of the home’s curb appeal.
- Film for humans. Keep the human experience in mind when selecting the angle you shoot each room. You want viewers to feel like they’re walking through the home itself.
- Put your best foot forward. Don’t forget to stage furniture in its optimal locations and make sure the home is tidy before filming.
Requests for live video tours have grown exponentially since the coronavirus hit. According to RedFin, homebuyers and sellers are increasingly seeking out virtual viewings on the platform, with one in every three requests for a home viewing being done as an agent-led, video-chat tour. The main benefit of this strategy is the opportunity for live interaction while a client virtually views the home. It’s also safer because only one person needs to be in the home.
If you’re conducting a live tour, keep in mind the tips used to make a good virtual walkthrough. You want good lighting and for your clients to have the proper perspective into each room. Be mindful of where you stand and don’t forget to pause for questions as they come up.
Facetime and Zoom are two great platforms for hosting these types of interactions. Facetime now enables you to easily host a group call if everyone has an iPhone. Zoom works for groups as well, but make sure you have the added security of a password or waiting room. You can encourage your clients to invite family and friends to join in on the virtual tour, as well.
Live open houses
To make the home showing process even more efficient for you as an agent, consider hosting live, virtual open houses. This is like a virtual tour on steroids since more than one interested party can see the home at the same time. Set up a conference call at a specific time for an agent-led walkthrough of the home, and manage it just like you’d do with a single potential buyer. You can post this information on the listing itself and then mute all attendees to keep the tour moving smoothly.
Safety on site
Regardless of which virtual route you utilize as an agent, you’ll still have to physically enter some properties for sale. Practicing safety while on site is important for both you and the seller. Here are a few additional tips beyond keeping an appropriate six foot social distance:
- Wear gloves and avoid touching your face.
- Disinfect the lockbox, keys, and front door knob before touching.
- Ask the seller to turn on all lights, pull back all curtains, and open all interior doors before they leave.
- Avoid contact with any surfaces in the home while showing the property.
Once the showing is complete, dispose of the gloves you wore inside. You don’t want to wear the same gloves in more than one house. Conduct all follow-up with clients electronically as well.
Other marketing tactics that work
As your focus shifts to digital home showings, don’t forget about the property listing itself. Take advantage of all the features within the online MLS system to properly highlight properties. Make sure listings have the most compelling visuals possible and don’t shy away from adding more detail to a home’s write up.
You can also spend a little more time communicating through email either to follow up with clients or help guide them toward which properties they should explore further. Serving as the expert not only when it comes to the property itself, but in how to digitally explore it, helps everyone get closer to closing a deal on a home.
For more tips on selling during coronavirus, check out this article on the Sundae blog.