From Victoria Carter
The pandemic has ushered in once-unthinkable changes to the home buying process. From coronavirus clauses to serious buyer inquiries via social media and the abandonment of last-minute agent showings, every facet of how a person buys a home has been impacted. People may not realize, however, that the current public health crisis has also unnerved home sellers—not necessarily because they are concerned about the real estate market, but rather because they are thinking about safety.
When you list your home on the market, the traditional home selling process entails weekend open houses, showings for interested buyers, home inspections, and a potential flurry of contractors. There are one-on-one meetings with the listing agent and various town inspectors too. But now, introducing many different people into the home to facilitate the home selling process has become problematic. Real estate agents have had to alter their routines and think deeply about how to keep their clients—both buyers and sellers—safe from exposure to the coronavirus.
As realtors often do, they have evolved with the current crisis and a relatively virtual home selling process is now the norm. What do I mean by virtual home selling? Here are a few examples.
1. Real estate meetings are virtual
One-on-one meetings with prospective home sellers have gone virtual. Luckily, there are many video conferencing platforms to choose from, and of course, texting and phone calls work too. Conversations between agents and home sellers now take place on Zoom Video Conferencing, Skype, Google Meet, and via Messenger Rooms. Home sellers use FaceTime to walk through their home and give a listing agent an initial feel for the property. Photos are sent via text or email and important documents are exchanged via DocuSign.
2. Agents are conducting virtual showings
To minimize the number of people walking through a home listed on the market, realtors are doing virtual showings. The agent will do a video walk-through of the home and take interested buyers virtually through each room. Live showings can be via a platform like Facebook Live or recorded and then uploaded to YouTube or other social channels. Once the realtor culls through the list of interested buyers, serious buyers with immediate housing needs can physically walk-through a property with the agent. A physical showing is now contingent on all parties using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and gloves.
3. Home inspections, floor plan walk-throughs, and photography appointments are done with social distancing
Real estate agents facilitate every aspect of the home sale process. Sometimes they are driving to a home to unlock the door and then wait as photos are taken for marketing. Realtors often wait during home inspection windows assigned by the town or for home or fire safety inspectors. Agents typically accompany floor plan companies too who come in and sketch the configuration of a home. The list goes on, and of course, each of these processes introduces people into the house.
Given the pandemic, real estate agents now accompany photographers and videographers to a property, but the agent will unlock the front door and then go and wait outside in his or her car. For larger homes, drone photography is becoming more prevalent and is an effective means to see the outside of the property. While an inspector is in a home, communication with the agent is via mobile phone, and realtors know to provide PPE to ensure all visits to the home are safe.
4. Digital marketing shifts into high gear
As with so many industries, it has never been more important to utilize digital marketing channels to access potential buyers. My team is receiving inquiries via lead generation platforms, social media, our website, and even Facebook Messenger. Social media usage has more than doubled on many platforms during the lockdown, and people are using the time at home to look at listings online. Interactive websites that integrate Garden State Multiple Listing Service (GSMLS) images and information are imperative as buyers search for homes on the Internet. Google Ads can effectively reach international buyers and domestic renters looking to leave New York City or other metropolitan areas.
As the real estate market rapidly evolves in the context of the public health crisis, it’s worth emphasizing that sellers are selling homes and buyers are buying them. As a real estate agent, my job is to ensure that homes are listed and sold in a manner that protects all of the parties involved, and I take this responsibility seriously. If you are thinking about buying or selling your home, I would love to assist you, and I welcome your questions.
Contact Victoria Carter at (973) 330-3050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please feel free to download a list of our “Digital and Modified Home Selling Services” here.