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Before the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, it was common practice for a real estate agent to meet with multiple people on any given day. Because real estate agents work in an industry that relies heavily on in-person meetings, they have had to shift gears with their day-to-day operations. Although some buyers and sellers are indeed holding off their real estate plans at this time, there are still many people who want to get a deal done this spring. Here are some steps that real estate agents can take to protect their physical health while working during COVID-19.

Practice social distancing 

Social distancing is one of the best ways we can prevent the spread of the virus. For the last several weeks, government officials have asked people to stay home whenever possible. If you need to meet with a client, be sure that you are keeping a distance of at least six feet. While this may make it difficult to connect with your clients, it is in everyone’s best interest to practice social distancing. 

Be well-equipped

There will come a point where an agent will need to meet clients in person or step inside a home. This is why real estate agents need to be well-equipped with hand sanitizers, gloves, and masks. It is also a good idea to have extra for your clients as well. 

Encourage virtual tours 

The COVID-19 outbreak has many real estate agents transitioning over to virtual tours. They have been extremely popular over the last several weeks as an alternative to in person home showings. Not only do they support the concept of social distancing, but they are time savers and help home buyers to narrow down their search. They allow buyers to gain a sense of what a home looks like from behind the screen of a digital device. Real estate agents should be encouraging buyers and sellers to use virtual tours during the COVID-19 to promote everyone’s safety.

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The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S is leading real estate agents to adopt video conferencing applications in an unprecedented state of the industry. By using digital platforms to conduct business virtually, many agents are remaining successful without person-to-person contact. 

Shared video platforms like FaceTime and Zoom are viable options during this time of social distancing. From behind a screen, a shared video platform allows buyers to see a home in its entirety. These platforms have increased in popularity in the last several weeks, which may be beneficial to the industry moving forward. Because many agents are being forced outside their comfort zone from traditional real estate practices (in person meetings, open houses), we can expect a shift within the industry to more modern approaches to conducting business. In other words, we can expect a larger focus on technologies moving forward.

While there is a learning curve, agents should embrace new digital platforms to improve their day-to-day operations and a means of providing the best customer service possible. Here are two types of shared video tools commonly used by real estate agents today and some reasons why they are appealing options.

Zoom 

-A client can access it on their phone, tablet, desktop, or laptop.

-A client can join easily by clicking on a link (no download required for this platform).

-There is a recording feature that allows a user to save and document meetings.

FaceTime

-Extremely user-friendly. A client only needs to press a button to accept a call from the agent, making it an ideal choice for older clients.

-It is primarily used for one-on-one communications; however, can support several users on one call. 

-It is free! 

By implementing new industry practices, real estate agents can continue to grow their business while practicing social distancing in 2020. We should anticipate that shared video platforms will continue to grow in popularity even after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.

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For individuals who are currently attempting to sell their home, social distancing measures are presenting a new series of challenges for selling a property in 2020. Consider the following ways in which real estate agents can provide reassurance for prospective sellers during COVID-19. 

Explain the ways in which people are still buying homes. 

Many people are under the misconception that the market is stagnant at this time. With technology at our disposal, the real estate industry continues to flow this spring despite social distancing. One of the main reasons why homes are still being sold is because of the availability of video tours to showcase home listings. Apps such as Zoom and Facetime are becoming increasingly popular since the start of COVID-19. An agent can use these platforms to show interested buyers a home over digital devices in real time. Although most real estate transactions at this time are being modified, homes are continuing to sell in the U.S.

Encourage your clients to prepare their properties in quarantine.

If your clients are choosing to wait until the end of COVID-19 to sell a property, there are several steps that they can take to prepare during this period of quarantine. Encouraging your clients to use this time to make any necessary repairs, repaint walls, and declutter rooms, will help them to maintain a positive outlook and maximize their time spent at home. 

Emphasize an optimistic approach for the future.

Since most of the population has been under quarantine for the last several weeks, it is understandable that many sellers are having a difficult time with remaining optimistic. Although buyers in your area may not be attending open houses at this time, it does not necessarily mean they do not want to tour a home. With this, it is important to emphasize that sellers should remain focused on the future and understand that people will always need to buy homes.

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The COVID-19 outbreak in our country is making real estate agents reliant on digital technologies to show home listings. Today, we have mobile apps at our disposal which allow agents to not only market home listings, but interact directly with clients. Because many home buyers are unable to view a home in person, a virtual walkthrough is a viable alternative at this time. As we continue to practice social distancing and other safety guidelines, there are several actions that agents can take to ensure the success of their virtual showings in 2020 and beyond. 

Know your route 

Real estate agents need to plan ahead before hosting a virtual house tour. A potential buyer will see whether or not you have taken the time to do your homework before walking them through the home. The agent should know the path they will take before they host a virtual home tour. You want to be sure that progress through the rooms of a home in an order that makes sense. In other words, you do not want to be walking back and forth multiple times because you did not show the client an area of the home. 

Anticipate questions from buyers

As is the case for in person showings, the typical home buyer will ask several questions throughout a virtual showing. Because you will likely be prompted with a variety of questions from prospective buyers, you need to be ready for them. This is another area where preparation is key to hosting a successful virtual showing. You don’t want to find yourself in situations where you can’t answer a client’s questions because you did not plan for them.

Ensure there is quality lighting

Poor lighting is one of the more common mistakes a real estate agent can make when hosting a virtual showing. Unnecessary shadows can make it difficult for prospective buyers to see a home from their phone, tablet, and computer screen. Be sure to turn on all lights and open window shades throughout your home before you connect with a client digitally.

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In these times of social distancing, open houses are not a feasible option for real estate agents. Even with people wearing face masks and maintaining a safe distance from one another, in person showings present too many risks at this time. However, real estate agents have the luxury of shared video platforms like Zoom and FaceTime as a way to show home listings to potential buyers. Although they were already in use before the COVID-19 outbreak, they have increased in popularity in the last several weeks. A guided walk through using a shared video platform allows a buyer to see a home in its entirety from behind a screen. People are still looking to purchase homes during this pandemic so real estate agents are having to adjust from traditional operations to promote safety. Although there is a slight learning curve for some agents, virtual showings have been well-received overall. 

Video creates a sense of community

Real estate agents are able to demonstrate their commitment to their clients by the usage of video platforms at this time. By getting everyone on the video together underlines that we are all in this together as we work together through this crisis to solve problems. 

Note: At least one of the agents should be on the video to control the conversation if either party becomes overly communicative. 

Tips for virtual showings

Tip 1: Remember to always act professional and dress as if you are in an in person showing.

Tip 2: Record the showing for future reference and to show other buyers.

Tip 3: Plan out your route beforehand and ensure there is ample lighting.

Benefits of virtual showings

Benefit 1: People will be viewing homes in this manner in the future (especially on the first showing). You can get a jump start on this new method now to get ahead of the curve. 

Benefit 2: For many buyers, this will be the first time they used a video platform as a means to buy a home. They will remember this and share their positive experience working with you with their friends and family members. 

Benefit 3: When done well, having the sellers involved and engaged with virtual showings can work wonders toward creating a bond that increases the value of the home.

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Although many homebuyers and sellers are questioning their real estate plans this spring, interest rates are low, causing a strong demand for buying and selling homes. Real estate agents must change their approach to accommodate the needs of homebuyers and sellers in 2020. With the help of technology to conduct business virtually, many agents are still working with limited or no person-to-person contact. Even with the use of technology in their favor, one area that has always puzzled real estate agents is contract writing. Below are some important points that real estate agents should understand about contract writing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A contingency will help to accommodate uncertainty.

One of the best steps an agent can take is to include a contingency stating that a home inspection will be performed after the state lifts restrictions brought on by COVID-19. This element of your contract will help to accommodate the uncertainty surrounding the process of buying a property without seeing it in person.

Briefing your client will help them to navigate the process.

During your first conversation with the client, you want to inform them that writing a contract without physically seeing a home is not unusual. This approach is becoming more common as a casual way to establish the process. 

Examples of phrases:

“It is safer for everyone. And of course, you can see the home before closing and if there is a problem we can address it and have anything we need corrected then.”

“Virtual viewings allow for multiple trips to the same house and eliminate other homes from your list more quickly.” 

Taking the right steps will ensure a smoother process overall. 

By embracing technology and the future, you have learned new skills that you can use for years to come. Following the changes presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, methods of selling homes with less physical interaction may be the preferred way of doing business for the foreseeable future.

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