Agents across the country are coming up with ways to keep selling homes while accomplishing social distancing in real estate.
One agent on Active Rain told me that she used photos and videos to create interest in her new listing and to “weed out” the buyers who would not have been interested after viewing the home. She then set appointments with all the potential buyers and their agents on the same day – staggered, of course. She provided booties, hand sanitizer, and gloves at the door. Meanwhile, the sellers went to a hotel for 24 hours or so.
An offer came in the next day via Docusign. The deposit was made through Venmo. and the title company receipted the contract through Zoocam. I suppose the actual signing will need to be live in front of a notary, but also suppose they can do that while still maintaining some distance.
But what if conditions in your area call for even greater distancing?
Virtual tours could become the new normal. These have been around for a long time in various forms. For many, that just means posting a long slideshow. For others it means a video taken as the agent walks through the house.
Either might have been good enough if the agent was only hoping for a showing appointment, but that changes if the buyer isn’t going to actually visit the house.
If that’s the case, a more in-depth virtual tour is called for – and available.
Several years ago, I was writing for a broker who purchased the camera and equipment to do walk-through virtual tours. He sent me the link to the vendor’s website so I could view their product before writing about it, and I was impressed. I could go in any room, walk up the stairs, return to a room I’d already viewed, etc. Then I could switch to a “doll-house” view to see the floor plan and traffic patterns. It was the closest thing to being there.
Had that been an actual listing and if I had been an actual buyer, I could have spent an entire day exploring all the rooms in the house.
However, the tours his agents produced were another matter. Perhaps better than still photos, but not at all impressive. We’ve all seen videos taken by people who jiggled the camera and moved from one scene to another too quickly. The take-away for me was that these virtual tours need to be photographed by a professional.
Today you have several options for real estate social distancing via virtual tours
A web search revealed that there are several companies either selling the equipment or hiring out to do the photography. This might be a wonderful opportunity for an experienced video photographer to expand his or her business!
I don’t know the prices, but one agent in California told me he can have a virtual tour with all the bells and whistles produced for about $300. He was excited about it for many reasons, not the least being that the program allows visitors to measure rooms and parts of rooms. Would your couch fit between the fireplace and that wall? You can measure and find out.
Since there are many companies to choose from, you’d probably do well to compare the offerings and see the samples. There are points to consider before investing in this new real estate marketing method.
While this website is promoting a specific brand, the article offers tips for getting the best possible results and tells you what to watch for when choosing a vendor. If you’re interested in doing virtual tours, I think it would be worth your time to read.
I think one of the most important points – whether for virtual tours, videos, or still photos, is to make sure your presentation loads quickly. As you know, visitors won’t stick around if there’s much delay.
While the pandemic will end, will social distancing in real estate become a new norm?
It could, and perhaps it’s a good idea, especially during flu season.
Every year, influenza kills thousands of people of all ages in the U.S. It spreads because people don’t take reasonable precautions – like washing their hands and staying home or keeping kids home from school when ill.
I remember showing a house one day in which the sick teen was ensconced on the fold-out couch in the living room. Going into that house was silly – but since they hadn’t bothered to tell the listing agent, he led us right into it.
And of course, few potential buyers would tell you if they’d been nursing a sick child just before they left to meet with you.
Perhaps virtual tours should do your showings during flu season – with offers being contingent on an in-person viewing.
Think of the time (and gasoline) it would save.
Even if your community is in total lockdown, so you can’t list and sell today, keep prospecting. This crisis WILL end one day.
Stay in touch with past clients, stay in touch with current leads, and keep prospecting for new listings.
I offer pre-written letters for all of those purposes on my prospecting letters page, and samples of letters on my freebies page.
If you’re at home looking for ways to be productive and you have let time go by without contacting past clients, use this letter set to reestablish the connection. Remember that in terms of referrals, they are your personal gold mine.
Once the crisis has passed, I believe you’ll see a pent-up demand from both buyers and sellers. If you’re the one they think of at that time, you’ll be the one who thrives.
hand washing Image courtesy of Viacheslav Blizniuk at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
video camera Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Jim Lee says
We’re doing our first virtual open house Saturday using Facebook Live. Interested buyers and agents are requested to make an appointment with us a showing at a later time. We are furnishing hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, booties, and following all CDC guidelines for future showings. We already have two showings scheduled from our open house pre-marketing.
Both my partner and I are active in state and national leadership and committees, and we’re conducting online meetings with these groups via Zoom and conference call.
Thanks for commenting, Jim Lee. I think virtual open houses are a fine idea, as are virtual tours that could be accessed any time of the day or night.
Being sure a potential buyer is really interested is a good idea at any time. I do recall my days as an agent when I soon suspected that some of my “buyers” were just looking at houses for the fun of it.
Anna L Wilkins says
No photographers are coming to the listings and we are not allowed to go to listings. Can’t even take pictures unless the client does it. We are not allowed to do open houses, broker tours, show property or have face to face meetings. Our brokerage is adamant about this. We don’t even meet clients to hand off the keys. We have sellers overnight them to buyers. Right now California Assoc is petitioning to have real estate classified as essential business so that we can go ahead and carefully show homes.
Wow Anna – that is a bit extreme. I heard yesterday that Arizona has deemed real estate an essential business, and tonight I heard that Florida is about to say it is not.
Too bad everyone can’t get on the same page.
I understand not doing open houses, but as for the rest – if you use gloves, booties, and social distance everyone should be fine. There’s such a thing as being too extreme. .