Real estate agents have a difficult time in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traditionally, if someone wanted to sell a house or an apartment, they would stage the house, put out signs and advertising everywhere, and open the door wide open to anyone wishing to see it.
Now, of course, nobody, including Australian health officials and various territory governments wants between 30 and 100 strangers tripping through the house with the instructions to follow social distancing.
So how do you attract qualified buyers when as a realtor, you want to avoid meeting a lot of people? According to realtors such as Ray White Surry Hills-Alexandria agent Ercan Ersan, the answer is either in private inspections or virtual inspections.
Some agents such will do private, one on one inspections for serious, qualified buyers who are very likely to make a legitimate offer if they like the property. and property he and property owners don’t feel they are violating social distancing guidelines if for example there is only the agent and perhaps a buying couple present.
And in fact, private showings do have one positive consequence for both realtors and seller. In today’s Coronavirus environment, buyers understand that they have to have serious intentions to buy as well as good finances behind them in order to snag a private showing.
A private showing not only takes the agents time, but those who insist on private showings understand they will only get one or two before they are cut off by the realtor.
The other way that agents are adapting is to create internet-only viewings. While real estate agents have, for quite some time, been putting video clips of houses, apartments, and commercial buildings such as apartment buildings on their websites, the latest trend is a virtual home tour.
Using Skype, Zoom, Facebook messenger or other social platforms, agents will walk potential customers from room to room in a virtual tour of the property. And in many ways, these guided tours are more effective than person to person guided tours.
Many times with a face to face realtor tour, potential customers try to schedule three or four visits to a home on a single afternoon, perhaps meeting more than one realtor at a time.
A buyer or a couple may more time looking at their watch wondering how they will get across town for their second or third meeting than viewing the recently updated model of the house or noticing the curb appeal.
With a guided virtual tour, done right, the agent has the full attention of a buyer or couple.
Another side-effect of virtual tours is that agents hours may change. Typically, agents may schedule early evening showings between starting at around 7 p.m for prospective couples, because both are home from work then, and have had dinner.
Like private inspections, potential buyers realise that they are taking up the agents time, and let’s say there is a video showing of a house or apartment on Tuesday at 7 p.m., they realise like those who insist on private inspections that time is dedicated exclusively to them.
Matterport 3D Scans
One of the most popular of technologies out there for real estate and one that quite a few Australian realtors use is called a Matterport 3d Scan.
Using a 3D camera and effect is created much as if one was looking at a child’s dollhouse. Using the scan, an agent can virtually whisk you from one room to another in the house or apartment building.
You may pay a little more to have 3d scans taken, but Matterport 3d Scans are worth it.
Agents with Matterport Scans are more than 95 likely to receive calls about a listing after viewing the scans, and 82 per cent of realtors agreed Matterport was the best platform out there to attract real estate attention.
In the absence of Matterport camera scans there are a number of software platforms that realtors use, although Matterport is the most functional.
Having an Auction
Auctions are not new in the real estate business but one of the ways clever realtors are auctioning houses is to combining auctions with virtual tours. In order to bid, the potential bidder must spend at least 15 minutes in a virtual tour with a realtor.
Coupled with establishing minimum bids, this is one very effective way to auction off a house, a condo, a warehouse or an apartment.
Video and Digital Media
Video is another way that realtors are coping in the age of the Coronavirus. For example, an individual realtor might host a weekly video on social media reporting his companies “Best Buys of the Week,” or “New Houses This Week,” offering a one or two minute video on each house featured.
They may, in turn, offer personalised, one-on-one guided tours via Skype or Facebook messenger for any serious client inquiries.
Another technique that realtors are using is offering a hot off the press email marketing. These can be highly personalised.
Let’s say a couple has an interest in buying a three or four-bedroom home, located only in East Perth and they don’t wish to pay over $900,000 for it.
If a realtor then gets two new listings for homes in East Perth that week that meets the couples needs, they would get two emails that week giving all of the details of the house, as well as all the personals and static photos.
The realtor then would offer to give the couple a detailed, guided video tour available only to that couple.
Again, this being another way to qualify serious buyers from those who are merely looking.
There are many forms that need to be filled out in order to purchase a property. However, that doesn’t mean that those forms have to be filled out face to face.
Realtors are working closely with brokers in order to facilitate remote buying.
Whenever allowed by law, digital signatures can be used, or if actual signatures are required, realtors will gather all the forms, place vinyl tabs on all required places needing initials or signatures, and either deliver them personally or have them sent by messenger to the buyer or couples residence or place of business.
Once the documents are signed the agent will personally pick them up, which may mean at a maximum waiting outside the buyer’s door for 30 seconds or more, and then personally delivers them to the bank or sends them by messenger.
As much as humanly possible, social distancing is maintained, yet it is still business as usual.
For Those With Money, Now is a Great Time to Buy
One effect of the coronavirus pandemic that agents agree on is that prices will definitely go down as thousands of people are unemployed, or small businesses shutter their shops. and the government struggles to provide stimulus to the economy.
For those who are in the enviable position to buy, for these reasons it is a great time to buy.
As to sellers, unless you are forced to sell and are willing to take significantly less, it’s generally agreed that sellers are better off waiting for the 2021 rebound in Australian real estate which is universally predicted.
Will All of the No-contact Rules Apply After the Pandemic is Over?
While some of the ideas that are in place now, such as remote, personalised video will remain after the coronavirus scare has run its course, most people predict a return to normal after the pandemic scare is over.
When people buy most things, they research online. Even if they are simply taking their car into a garage for a tune-up, people actively seeking both positive or negative reviews on the internet.
And while people do look for social proof on the internet for real estate companies, the job of an agent is often as much hand-holding (figuratively) and reassurance that a young couple is doing the right thing by buying a house than it is in finding the right property for the buyer.
One of the difficulties of remote selling is that it is far more difficult for someone’s personality to shine through.
One of the main qualities, (perhaps the biggest) that people demand in a realtor is a sense of honesty, and it is extremely difficult to judge the sense of honesty of a realtor you’ve never met.
Likewise, how can people judge a realty agency as a whole if they’ve never set foot into the premises due to the pandemic?
So why some realtors are at least keeping their business going by selling remotely, as some are now doing, especially cash-rich investors in Hong Kong and Singapore, expect that personalised services will return in the post-pandemic environment.