Before we go any deeper into this topic, it’s worth pointing out that compared to the danger this pandemic presents, any difficulties in navigating our business are 100% a secondary concern. With people’s lives and health on the line, we all need to do our part, end of story.
With that said, heading into the busiest season of the year with a full head of steam, only to run into a brick wall in the shape of a lockdown? It’s not what anybody wanted to see. Still, the industry isn’t “fantasy estate” — it’s real estate.
So let’s talk about the realities of the situation.
Look Beyond the Open House
If you’ve been in this game for a while, you’ve probably hosted your share of open houses. It’s tough to match the value of seeing a property for yourself, and the more people who have the opportunity, the better the odds that someone falls in love and makes an offer. But with Massachusetts under a stay at home advisory, open houses are not practical. So how do you adapt?
Of course, simple and easy aren’t the same thing: not by a long shot. But the truth is that there is no magic spell, no “one weird trick” to make everything go your way: a lot of this comes down to putting in the time and effort to do it right. So roll up your sleeves, charge up your phone, and get to work.
Put in the time to understand your properties, inside and out. Reach out to your clients, and really get to know their wants, needs, quirks, and desires. Ask questions. Learn about them. Once you understand both your clients and your properties, it’s all about matchmaking.
You don’t need dozens of people to pass through your property. Ultimately, you only need one.
Keep it Clean: Home Tours In a Lockdown
That said, can we even arrange property visits? Doesn’t it seem like a stretch to classify them as “essential services?” Will the police arrest me if I’m sneaking out for a home visit?
Calm down, friend. Deep breath.
Look, it’s easy to get worked up over this stuff, but remember: we’re dealing with facts here. And the facts are actually pretty straightforward. Public businesses, gatherings of 10 or more people, these are off the table. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t leave your home. It doesn’t mean that you can’t conduct business.
What it means is that you need to strictly adhere to the guidelines while doing so.
Handwashing, sanitizing, face masks, and foot coverings are non-negotiable, as is maintaining proper social distancing. If you’re showing a home to individuals who live together, they can stick close to one another. But either way, you need to maintain your six feet of distance.
One big caveat here: if you’re showing a property that still has residents — especially if those residents are seniors, diabetic, or immunocompromised in any way — then bringing strangers into that home might need to be off the table, precautions or not.
Virtual Tours Are Your New Best Friend
While nothing beats getting up close and personal with a property, the realities of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic mean that in-person showings just aren’t going to be possible for large chunks of the population.
But virtual tours? You can do those all day.
Getting an up-close look at a property is invaluable, and virtual tours enable that to happen remotely. The big difference between a virtual and in-person tour is that a lot more responsibility rests on the agent’s shoulders. Where typically your clients would explore the home at their own pace, in a virtual tour, you have to be their eyes and ears. That not only means you need to be a more active tour guide, but this is where your listening skills will be paramount. Like conducting an interview, you’ll want to ask questions to make sure your client is getting a representative look at the place. This can mean answering a lot of qualitative questions (i.e., how big does the foyer feel, is there a loud echo in the living room, etc.), as well as showing the same area from multiple angles until your client gets a good view.
Patience, listening, and knowing when to summarize are going to be your favorite tools here.
Above All, Remain Patient and Accessible
Change is always scary: and we’re all going through some big changes right now. People are waiting to see how their employment is affected, what happens to the stock market, etc.: and with answers changing by the minute, cold feet are to be expected.
But no storm lasts forever.
As the advisory sets in, and people get used to their new normal, panic can give way to reason. And frankly, anyone who doesn’t love their home is going to be extra motivated by spending all this time cooped up inside it. The same client who balked at the idea of buying a home in day two might be fired up about house hunting by day twenty one. So stay in touch, stay accessible, and be patient. If someone who had planned to purchase a home is clearly experiencing anxiety, don’t force the issue: but don’t disappear, either. Owning your own home means stability: and stability looks plenty attractive right now. If your clients are concerned about their 401ks, turning those assets into real estate equity might be the safest play. Be mindful, be compassionate… and be ready.
The Rules Have Changed, But the Game Remains the Same
For all that COVID-19 has turned society on its ear, the same principles that make you a great real estate agent under normal market conditions all still apply. The methods are different, but it’s still about matching the right property to your clients needs.
Sure, there are plenty of difficulties. And to be sure, this is absolutely affecting the market. But ultimately, what that means is very much still in your hands. Your actions do make a big difference. Your clients are still counting on you. Bring forth a positive mind set, and find teammates that come up with innovation solutions to work through any challenges. Set up zoom meetings and bring other real estate agents together to discuss best practices. Make sure you’re armed with the best tools for the job. If you need help with: virtual showings, technology upgrades, plugging in to our massive network, trusted knowledge, teamwork or anything else in this complicated landscape, you should absolutely feel free to get in contact with us: we are here to help. Boston is our home and we have a long history of rallying together in times of need. To that end, we extend an open invitation to everyone in the real estate community to reach out to us for anything that can help you through this crisis and come out stronger than ever.
Remember: we might be self-isolating, but we’re all in this together.
Published April 7, 2020
Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.