Things don’t seem to be getting better on the Covid-19 front. The United States announced Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine rollout before the end of 2020, yet cases are spiking each day. The new UK variant of the virus is more contagious and we may find ourselves in lockdown until spring.
Luckily, the real estate industry is an essential service and safely operated through the pandemic so far. That’s not to say this isn’t a very difficult time to be an agent, buyer, or seller in the market. Buyers and sellers are nervous about making transactions in a volatile environment. Agents are focusing on new creative ways to build their networks and show homes to potential buyers. This article details how you can find realtors, use virtual tools, and sell your home despite Covid-19.
How To Find An Agent During The Pandemic
Deciding to sell your home is a big life decision and it’s important to have a good real estate agent at your side every step of the way, especially during Covid-19. Before Covid you couldn’t leave your home without seeing ads from realtors or pulling their flyers from the crack of your screen door. With lockdowns these ads are no longer sent out for safety precautions. This leaves many potential home sellers at a loss when it comes to finding an agent they can trust to sell their home.
Referrals. Referrals. Referrals
This word cannot be emphasized enough, especially during a pandemic. Although the process of selling a home has changed, buyers are still using the same tactics when choosing an agent. Eighty percent of people pick a real estate agent based on someone they know or a recommendation from a friend. You need to get in touch with your friends, family, and the rest of your local community. Ask them who they’re trusting or have trusted in the past to sell their properties.
When choosing an agent, most sellers will only look at two factors:
- Can this agent get me the best price for my home?
- How much commission are they taking?
While these factors are important to sellers, you should always look beyond figures. Search for an agent with experience and local knowledge. The most important trait to look for is personality. Don’t be afraid to call several real estate agents and interview them before finding the right one to sell your home. This is industry standard. An agent with the right temperament and decision making processes will be worth the cost of their commission. During these interviews delve into the following topics to examine how well the agent has adapted to Covid:
- What tools are you using to view or show homes?
- How are you ensuring the safety of your clients? What safety precautions do you have in place?
- How comfortable are you with technology?
You are looking for an agent with a deep knowledge of technology who is not afraid to sell digitally. Covid is not the time to hire an agent who just started their Facebook page. Speaking of social media…
Check An Agent’s Social Media Channels
During the lockdown, everyone is at home and connected. People are searching for something educational, entertaining, and inspiring. That’s exactly what an experienced agent’s social media should deliver. The agent you choose should be providing their clients with a variety of engaging content to increase their emotional connection with their client base. If they have a client base that is engaged, that means they’ll have an easier time selling your home because they have the attention of their followers.
Look for agents who make event-related posts. Everyone is looking for something to do to fill time at home, and people remember agents who offer local online events to attend. Find agents who keep their followers updated on any personal events including talks, seminars, retreats, and training programs. These are also events you can personally attend to see your potential agent in action.
In addition, search for agents who sponsor community events. This indicates close ties to local businesses, which means they are extremely familiar with your community. For example, your local pizzeria is having a one day sale where they donate a portion of proceeds from every large pepperoni pizza to a local charity. And it so happens that the agent who impressed you in their virtual interview is sponsoring the event. This is a great sign that this agent may be the one for you.
Of course, an agent’s active social media presence tells you they are tech-savvy and able to keep up with all new ways to show homes to potential buyers.
Changing Your Approach To Sell Your Home Despite Covid-19
After selecting a winning agent who will meet all your needs it’s time for you to sit down as a team and discuss the pandemic home buying and selling process. With limited opportunities for open houses and strict guidelines in place for when they do happen, agents need to flex their creativity in order to show prospective buyers everything a home has to offer. Here are some elite industry essentials that your agent might use to promote and sell your home:
Immersing 360 Degree Photos
The real estate industry has had access to 360-degree technology and virtual open houses for a long time. These tools are now absolutely essential during the lockdown in order to sell homes to buyers. It’s hard for buyers to get excited about properties without fully immersing them in one. The goal of 360-degree virtual tours is identical to open houses: Make buyers feel at home.
Most buyers will view virtual tours from the comfort of their sofas, which means they’re currently immersed in their own homes, thinking about what they have and don’t have. The goal of a virtual tour is to show buyers the benefits a new property has to offer; whether it be a stellar kitchen, an in-ground pool, or a massive backyard. Buyers are spending more time at home, and 360 degree photos show them how they can improve their quality of life with a new property.
Agents can upload 360-degree photos to offer clients professional virtual tours. Agents can work closely with photographers to show off the best angles of your home. And it’s important that these photos look their best. Agents should install a photo editor or take your photos to a photo-editing service to have them touched up and color corrected.
360-degree photos should replicate the open house process. Buyers should be able to travel seamlessly from room to room. Lastly, detailed floor plans should be included in addition to your 360-degree photos. This lets buyers know how to navigate through the tour.
Putting Your House On Film
Video is an essential medium for promoting and showing listings during Covid. Having an agent that’s comfortable filming and editing their own videos, or one who has a team dedicated to the task, will help your home stand out from the rest. Giving potential buyers a filmed walkthrough of your home is as good as an open house itself. What’s great is the entire video can be livestreamed on social media. This allows buyers to ask questions while viewing the property. This requires no expensive equipment. A smartphone is capable of accomplishing all of this.
Edited Video Tours
Another option is for an agent to post an edited video tour of your home to all their social media accounts. This is where agents can get creative with the way they film various rooms in your home to show off the best angles. Video tours can be narrated, or feature elegant background music to keep viewers engaged.
The Power Of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing is a great option to meet with agents before and after showing off your property. It’s an option that is here to stay as you would rather video conference with an agent than drive to their offices. With that being said, it’s important to get comfortable with the technology. Learn how to navigate apps like Zoom & FaceTime to ensure you stay focused on the information agents are delivering.
Pricing Your Home During Covid-19
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the real estate industry, but many are declaring it a buyers market. It’s a great time to purchase a premium property for a low price due to the pandemic. This might make some sellers skeptical and they might hold out until after the lockdown is over. However, it is a misconception that housing prices have crashed. There has been a decrease in sales activity overall in the housing market, but home prices have remained steady (and in some markets increased!). Since supply is lower than it normally would be, houses in booming areas continue to receive multiple offers. So is it a buyers market? We’re not so sure about that.
Even during the unprecedented pandemic, your home will sell in accordance with the demand for other homes in your area, and whether it is priced close to market value. If you have a specific number in mind, talk it through with your agent to see if it is plausible. This is why it is very important to select the right agent.
Inking The Deal
You’ve reached the end of the journey. You’ve had multiple video conferences and meetings with your agent, and they’ve answered all your questions. You’re ready to accept an offer from a prospective buyer and now it’s time to close the deal. This process often involved lots of paperwork and signatures before the lockdown. Time to turn off the printing press! There are several apps you and your agent can install allowing you to sign documents through your phones, tablets, or computers.
This limits contact keeping both parties safe. Online documents can be encrypted with a tamper-proof seal and audit trail. This ensures the legality of the documents and allows you and your agent to see what was signed and when. Now, you may prefer to sign physical documents and your agent will absolutely make accommodations for you. Just know that the virtual tools are at your disposal and should be taken advantage of.
Lockdown doesn’t mean you have to lock up your home and forget about selling it this year. There are hundreds of tech tools that exist to help you find agents, promote your property, and successfully sell your home during the pandemic. The secret that brings the entire process together is finding the right agent for you and your home.
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