Barbara Betts sold real estate through the great recession, but this is truly an unprecedented time. We have to remember that everything was different in 2008; housing led that recession – it was on very unstable ground. Homeowners were being irresponsible; we were overbuilding. Therefore the 2008 recession was a housing recession. We already had a housing shortage going into 2020, and we will have another little shortage through this, but Betts is confident that in Q3 things will start to look up again.
In the meantime, during this uncertainty, agents may be asking themselves “How am I going to get through this? Am I ever going to sell real estate again?” The answer to that is, yes you will! If you are in real estate, you have to be active; now is not the time to give up. You control your attitude and your activities.
So you’ve had listing cancelations due to COVID-19, now what? Pivot. If you don’t have a virtual tour, go out and get one as it is not socially responsible to be doing open houses right now. Also, Betts suggests your photographers can go back to old photos of your listings and create a virtual tour out of them. If you have a new listing and you hired a photographer, add on the virtual tour; it is essential right now.
You have to pivot and use technology to keep your business going, get creative. Yes, you may get some clients that completely back out, but that does not mean you won’t do any business during this time. Transactions are still being done, there are people still out there who want to transact, for example, Betts recounts that there were buyers who were competing with multiple offers and as some of these homes begin to fall out of escrow, they are jumping at the opportunity, and taking advantage of today’s low interest rates.
If you have buyers who are still employed and were looking to buy prior to this pandemic, do not stop engaging with them. Get on Zoom and start doing buyer consultations with these people because they will most likely want to buy when this is over. If you are working with sellers, Betts suggests conducting virtual listing appointments by facetiming with them while they walk you through their home. Another opportunity for sellers is conducting live Zooms with competing buyers. Remember to be there to facilitate this for your clients so they can see how you are adapting to today’s conditions while still providing value to them.
Work That Database
You have a database of people who know you and like you, so Betts urges you to work it. The way you are going to stay active is through your database. If you feel uncomfortable working your database, this is the time to get comfortable. Do not send a blanketed message. Turn off you drip email campaigns. What was relevant two months ago is no longer relevant. This is when you pick up the phone and call them. This is not when you call and ask, “Are you thinking of buying or selling a home” or asking, if they know someone who is looking to buy or sell. This is when you call to say: “How are you?” “How can I help you?” People are craving that kind of attention. They will love hearing that you care, and they are sure to remember you reached out. Check on that single mom whois alone with her kids, the parents who are homeschooling their kids, the first responders, and your senior clients. Offer to pick up groceries; go above and beyond during these times.
Facts Over Fears
Your job is to get people to rely on you as a professional, so deliver facts and do not buy into the fear. If you are focusing on negative information you may be relying on bad information; stick with positive factual information because it is out there. Think about ways you can bring value that are not just about real estate. On the housing front, Betts recommends sharing positive articles that are coming out. NAR is putting out great information. Don’t try to talk about housing, however, if in conversation someone asks you about real estate, you need to have those positive articles ready. Include them in your newsletters and send them to homeowners in your contact list. Stay updated on what is going on.
The industry is coming together to work for you. Some states are trying to get agents labeled as “essential” and NAR is working overtime to get positive legislation passed to help the industry. New appraisal guidelines are underway such as authorized drive by appraisals and exterior only appraisals. Just remember you must follow the rules of your state.
Social Media Will Feed your Business for Free!
Social media is a gift. People are listening and engaging more than ever, so it’s important that you learn Facebook and Instagram. Betts suggests you start by responding to your client’s posts. When they post a pic, say, “I love that.” You have an opportunity to dig deep in social media. Record a video of your neighborhood when you are on your walks, record your lunch or dinner pickup from a local restaurant. These business owners will be thankful to you and this also establishes you as the local professional. Now is your time to shine.