Communication is Key
Real estate is a people business; it always has been and it always will be, and quarantine isn’t going to change that. Especially in the current environment of extended isolation, people are craving human interaction so it’s imperative that, as an agent or property manager, you’re able to provide that.
While gatherings of two people are permitted, it isn’t advisable to be organising to meet with all or even most of your clients in person. If in-person meetings are a necessity, The REIQ urges the observing of the strict hygiene and social distancing practices currently in place. Ideally, however, communication should be done remotely, and that makes staying on top of it all the more important.
The REIQ’s 2020 Young Agent of the Year recipient Pat Ivey recommends contacting vendors as much as possible. “I just call my clients all the time. I’ve always got a story to share or a result to share, and it’s important that we just keep communication up via the phone,” he tells.
In times of uncertainty, a phone call from a friendly, calm and confident voice can make all the difference, so it’s vitally important, now more than ever, to be that source of dependability.
If the last 10 years of digital transition have been like learning to walk, COVID-19 has forced us to run a marathon. In just a few short weeks we’ve seen restrictions on open homes, live auctions and even meeting in groups larger than two but, as ever, real estate has adapted.
Agents were able to immediately tap into an array of online tools such as online auctions, digital forms, digital documentation signing and virtual property tours. Recently the group behind realestate.com.au launched a pair of features, Digital Inspections and Online Auctions, to integrate more digital utility into their platform to further assist real estate professionals.
While many agencies might have previously been reluctant to transition towards digital solutions, the current environment of limited social interactions is making technology a necessity and if agencies wish to stay relevant, they’ll need to embrace it.
Become a Director
With the restriction on open homes, the only way for prospective buyers to physically see the inside of a property is with a private inspection by appointment. If the same amount of people who would typically come through an open home are instead booking private inspections, sales agents will find themselves inundated with walkthroughs. The solution is video.
Getting in front of the camera might be disquieting for some but it’s a fear worth facing. Not only will buyers gravitate towards listings that offer more information, it also helps to qualify those buyers so only those who are more serious will be booking private inspections. “We don’t want to draw people there and waste their time,” explains Ivey. “We want them to see it warts and all before they come in and waste our owner’s time. We want them to be serious.”
That warts-and-all approach means making a video that clearly shows the property and doesn’t mislead or leave anything open to interpretation or imagination. Video walkthroughs aren’t the same as advertisements, which tend to be shorter and highly polished. “It’s slower, it’s calmer, it’s like we’re there in person walking people through the property,” adds Ivey.
Augmented or virtual reality gives buyers an even better insight into a home before they consider booking a private inspection. The process is more involved, but the final product allows buyers to click through the home room to room, panning the camera around to see all the various angles.
Vish Uttam and his team at Xperience Realty, who received The REIQ’s Small Agency of the Year award for 2020, saw the social restrictions as an opportunity to expand into 3d virtual tours after almost 10 years of making video walkthroughs. “In light of this, we just recently got in touch with someone who does virtual tours, and we actually did our first one just yesterday,” says Uttam. “It went really well and it gave the client the opportunity to actually feel like they were walking through the property, checking each and every angle in each and every room.”
The next step for virtual tours is the utilisation of augmented reality headsets, which allow prospective buyers to really feel as though their inside the home and experience what it’s like to be in the space. Uttam wants to use augmented reality to update landlords after routine inspections. “Instead of sending owners pictures of their properties every quarter, we could send them a link where they can then walk through their own property,” he explains.
Make it Work
For the foreseeable future, life and work are going to be more challenging, and while various apps and workarounds allow professionals to carry on with their business, there won’t always be a digital alternative. Innovation has always been justly rewarded in real estate and that’s doubly so now when agent ingenuity becomes a massive point of difference.
Nobody can give you all the answers because in times like these, nobody has them all. It’s a time to think outside the box, devise your own solutions and do whatever you can to make it work for you.