It’s not an ideal time to be a real estate agent. Despite real estate often being considered “a safe investment.” The people who run the industry (real estate agents) are often hit substantially hard when the market shifts.
Right now, we’re in a shifting market.
No matter what do as agents, the coronavirus has and will continue to slow down business. It’s uncertain as to when we’ll return to normalcy. It’s even more unclear what will happen to the real estate market after COVID-19 slows down.
As agents, we need to be prepared for everything. We must understand how to fulfill our roles during the coronavirus crisis, as well as what to prepare for afterward.
This article will go over the following points:
- The Real Estate Agent’s 3 Main Jobs
- Non-Essential Service Practices
- Essential Service Practices
- Tips for Safety and Legality
A Real Estate Agent’s 3 Main Jobs
Real estate agents have three main jobs.
- Lead generation
- Meeting with clients
- Closing deals
Everything above is being affected in some way by the coronavirus.
What do you do for lead generation when you can’t meet new people because the government told you not to go near anyone?
How do you meet with clients when you’re not allowed to conduct showings because you’re deemed a non-essential service?
How can you close a deal when your government-operated Register of Deed’s office is closed until further notice?
Across the nation; state, county, and municipal governments have issued “stay-at-home” orders, followed by guidelines that express whether certain jobs and industries are considered “essential” or “nonessential.” Unfortunately, many real estate agents have not been deemed essential, making it challenging to conduct business.
Therefore, there cannot be a single “Real Estate Agent’s Guide to the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Instead, we have to divide the guide into two sections. One for “nonessential” agents and one for “essential” agents.
The Nonessential Agent’s Guide to the Coronavirus Pandemic
If your municipal or county government has stated that real estate agents are a “nonessential service,” unfortunately, your life is going to be a lot harder. Even if your state government has declared you essential, your local government overrules it, as it is considered the more restrictive order.
For example, North Carolina has declared real estate an essential service, but Buncombe County has not. Therefore, I cannot conduct business as usual.
Here’s what you can’t do:
- Conduct showings
- Open houses (limit of 10 people per space)
- Be out of your house for any reason considered nonessential
So basically, you can’t be outside meeting new people, showing your buyers new homes in-person, and hanging out at the office.
But what can you do?
Lead generation should be your main focus right now. Unless your lead generation only consists of meeting people in-person, then you should be able to continue your normal activities.
Cold calling, while not something I do, still works. My advice would be to come up with a new script that pertains to the coronavirus and how it will impact the market.
Say things like, “We’re likely entering a buyer’s market after this virus, so it’s super important that you understand the sales process during that time.”
This is an especially wonderful time to start building your online presence, as well, which is my primary means of lead generation.
Start making content. Whether you take this time to start a blog on your website, build a website, make YouTube videos, or podcasts, you have a lot of free time to get ahead of the competition.
If you invest in new systems, you could have an even better business after the pandemic.
Nowadays, there’s a lot of technology that allows us to show homes virtually. Virtual alternatives are offered by Matterport, EyeSpy360, Cupix, and many other services.
These services allow your buyers to view properties from the comfort of their homes. Most of these tours are 3-D too, so the buyers can get a feel for the space in the home, the lighting, and the overall ambiance.
If you don’t have the ability to set up higher-level virtual services, then you can simply take more photos of the home as an alternative.
The most important goal in times like now is to show as much of the home as you can through virtual and online means. Switch your mindset from “getting buyers in the door” to “make a sale on the spot.”
Virtual Meetings and Closings
Just about the entire real estate process can be conducted online now. Virtual meeting services like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime allow you to connect with clients, attorneys, inspectors, and all other parties involved in transactions.
Documents are already transferred and signed electronically, so all we have to do is switch everything else over.
While closings will be contingent upon the Register of Deeds office being open and the attorney being willing to conduct the closing virtually, it is still possible to close on properties while sitting in your home.
The Essential Agent’s Guide to the Coronavirus
The “essential” agent’s guide is a lot simpler. If your local government and state have deemed real estate agents as an “essential service,” then you’re in luck.
This means that your business practices are clear to move forward, as long as you follow social distancing rules.
In this scenario, your lead generation should look relatively normal, but don’t expect to meet new prospects in person.
You’ll be allowed to conduct showings as long as the seller is willing to allow entry. Be sure to keep occupancy below the maximum of 10 people per space. This would cause me to not recommend hosting open houses due to there being a high probability of having more than the allowed limit show up.
However, you can host virtual open houses. Simply pull out your phone and log on to Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube and live stream a house tour. You could just as easily make a video, as well, and post it online.
The best practice as an essential agent is to keep things as virtual as possible. If you can close a home virtually, do it. If your buyers don’t mind virtual showings, recommend it.
Remain as physically separated as possible, but remain in close contact with clients and third parties.
Tips on Safety and Legality
There are a few things you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe from the coronavirus. Some of those tips are:
- Ask all your clients if they have traveled recently.
- Try not to drive your clients from showing to showing. If you do, however, make sure you sanitize your vehicle afterward.
- Make sure your policies for questioning clients and driving are consistent. Otherwise, you could be violating Fair Housing laws.
The National Association of Realtors has stated that you’re cleared to ask screening questions to ensure your own safety.
Again, just make sure you’re staying compliant with Fair Housing laws.
No matter what, this is a difficult time to be a real estate agent. We’re all going to see a reduction in the amount of business we’re doing.
The most important part of all of this is to stay safe and healthy and to not put others at risk. If you feel unsafe conducting a transaction, are sick or think you might be getting sick, or have been in contact with someone who is sick, stay home. It’s not worth causing others to get sick or endangering yourself.
As I said earlier, the best use of this time is to begin building or strengthing your online lead generation systems.
Are you an agent? If so, how have you adjusted your business practices due to coronavirus? What do you think the market will look like post-pandemic?