Real estate has always experienced ups and downs, often in line with economic cycles. Perhaps none of those disruptions has been as significant as the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost overnight, the traditional processes for marketing and showing homes were shut down.
In the beginning, nationwide stay-at-home mandates prohibited open houses and in-person showings. Questions arose about how to sign paperwork and get documents notarized. Those challenges and others still exist, but there are new ways to assist buyers and sellers with their goals.
Here are seven ways to adapt your strategy as a real estate agent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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1. Familiarize yourself with local mandates and operating rules
It may seem as if the rules about business operations and processes change daily. Yet it’s crucial to stay on top of those constantly evolving guidelines.
Above all else, you don’t want to do anything that compromises your business or puts anyone’s health at risk. Additionally, following the rules will help guide your business strategy and provide useful insights to help you guide your clients on their purchase or sales process.
These guidelines should frame your real estate strategy during the pandemic. The impact is far-reaching, from adding remote access lockboxes and virtual tours to digital real estate closings with remote online notaries. These regulations may vary by location, especially as they pertain to closing a real estate deal.
2. Stay attuned to industry trends and external factors
Staying on top of trends and factors that impact your ability to do your job should always be a key component of your real estate strategy.
For example, it has always been important to track interest rates, mortgage products, and pricing changes.
Now, the parameters of your intelligence-gathering process must expand to address the changes the pandemic has caused:
- The recent historically low inventory in many areas is because a lot of homeowners want to stay put because of current economic uncertainty.
- On the flip side, demand has increased for two main reasons: the existing inventory shortage and the desire of many millennials to upgrade from smaller properties, thanks to the new work-from-home trend.
Additionally, you’ll need to know how some buying trends have changed. That subway tile and farmhouse sink no longer matter nearly as much. Instead, extra bedrooms, dedicated office spaces, and pools (or pool-sized lots) define the buyer wish list.
3. Get accustomed to the remote showing process
While some parts of the country may allow for limited in-person showings and open houses, many real estate markets need to stick with remote showings for some time.
Prior to COVID-19, some real estate agents had already discovered the power of cool gadgets like drones to elevate their online marketing efforts. More buyers now enjoy access to apps and sites that let them pre-shop potential homes, scroll through picture galleries, use 3D tours, and watch videos with visual perspectives that regular photos can’t show. Realtors can also use tools like JotForm to collect client information online and Zoom, Facebook Live, and Google Meet to “walk” their clients through virtual tours of potential properties.
Now, this technology is perhaps the only way to help buyers become emotionally vested in the houses they see. That means quickly mastering the process of creating and sharing these virtual marketing tools.
4. Enhance listing information
Along with the need for more visuals, the written content found in your listings becomes much more important than it was prior to COVID-19. The more details, the better to help prospective buyers understand and visualize what they may not be able to see in person.
Enhance your listing with the following tactics:
- Describe more features inside and outside of the home.
- Add room and closet measurements.
- List all improvements to the home.
- Note any city or zoning ordinances that allow for additions like a second story, placement of other buildings on the property, or animals like horses.
- Include exterior details about the yard, any auxiliary dwelling units, entertainment features, and house positioning.
- Expand the listing to provide more information about the neighborhood and nearby community, including amenities, schools, transportation, and entertainment.
This additional content may also improve your search engine optimization efforts so that buyers searching for those types of homes can find your listings faster.
5. Collect and analyze relevant data to connect with your target audience
You have a wealth of information within reach that can help you grab the attention of your audience of buyers. However, you may not be sure how to interpret the information you need or how to organize it so that it’s useful.
Again, this is where technology can help:
- Use a lead-gen or subscription form to get more information about your prospective buyers. These forms can integrate with both your CRM and email marketing platform to improve the accuracy and efficiency of your marketing efforts.
- Look for integrations that can funnel comprehensive data into various platforms and tools for research, customer relationship management, and marketing. This will automate the work of updating listings and personalizing messages as well as provide new insights.
- Improve your online presence by revamping your website or creating a new one that includes targeted landing pages and an informational blog with content aimed at your best prospective clients.
- Regularly update your email list and database to ensure accuracy. You may also want to segment it by buyers, sellers, or other audience groups, for specific marketing campaigns.
6. Deliver valuable information to boost certainty in uncertain times
Buyers and sellers are looking for information that can help them confidently make smart decisions in uncertain times. Now that they’re spending so much time at home, they are searching the internet for that information, making this an ideal opportunity to promote your thought leadership and become a go-to source in your market.
Get started by creating and nurturing a presence on multiple channels:
- Create accounts on multiple social media channels, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook, where you can share your tips, advice, community news, and other relevant content.
- Become active on professional social media sites like LinkedIn and Alignable. Here you can network and collaborate with your colleagues, gaining other industry insights to share with your clients and prospects.
- Develop a blog that regularly offers home buying and selling tips based on your knowledge of trends, local community information, market insights, and design ideas.
- Look for opportunities to provide a guest post on another professional’s blog where your expertise complements that company’s field, such as interior design, remodeling and construction, or home staging.
- Create and publish a monthly email newsletter with a combination of written and video content that’s similar to your blog.
- Host an online webinar or workshop for buyers, sellers, or investors. These free online events help you get in front of your audience and position you as a credible partner to work with when selling or buying a home. Include a Q&A session and then leverage the registrations as leads for your marketing efforts.
- Launch a podcast or YouTube video series with local professionals to help buyers, sellers, and homeowners with everything from painting and landscaping to financial services, estate planning, and more. Not only does this help your audience see your expertise and connections, but it also helps promote others in your community.
- Create video ads for your properties that can be played on YouTube or Instagram. You can target the ads to users based on demographics like age and geographic area.
Be sure to share links to all of these information channels through your social media and email campaigns. Regularly update each of these channels with relevant content to keep your audience engaged.
7. Spend more time getting to know your prospects
Your clients and prospects may be struggling with various challenges. One of the best things you can do right now is reach out and check in with those on your list to see how they’re doing. Rather than always being in “sales mode,” switch gears and focus on the individuals with whom you’re working.
Build your relationships through phone and video calls as well as emails. Also, be sure to ask if there’s anything you can do to help. You can also be proactive by sharing the following:
- Inspirational quotes or positive sayings
- A list of fun activities and resources for clients with kids
- Specific information requested about financial assistance programs, rent or mortgage help, and job resources
Survival of the real estate agent
It’s time to evolve and adapt to a new buying and selling environment by taking advantage of the opportunities created by the pandemic as well as shifts in consumer preferences. Learn more about how you can put powerful marketing tools to work for your real estate business to target, reach, and connect with more buyers and sellers.