Real estate is a personal business. Real estate agents help their clients make very personal and financially important decisions. No one would ever suggest that working remotely and virtually is the best environment for the real estate industry. However, with the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote tools for real estate agents let them achieve success working virtually.
With the right technology and some smart planning, real estate agents all over the country are keeping the industry going. Here are some of the ways you can be successful at remote real estate, too.
During this pandemic, your state, county, and city may have Shelter-in-Place and/or Non-Essential Business Orders in effect. You need to research these Orders and follow the restrictions exactly.
Shelter-in-Place orders require residents to stay at home except for essential travel, usually to a grocery store or pharmacy. A Non-Essential Business Order requires closing all businesses that aren’t essential to the community. Some jurisdictions designate real estate as essential and others may not. If there are conflicting orders from your state and local governments, read each order carefully, and if necessary, consult with your attorney.
Given the severity of the COVID-19 virus, many people are restricting their activities themselves and they want to minimize the time they spend meeting in person with agents. As a result, setting yourself up to work remotely is your best bet even if there is no Shelter-in-Place Order in your area.
Working remotely as a real estate agent isn’t as complicated as it may seem. There are tools that can help you replace in-person contact in a number of areas:
1. Staying in touch and generating leads
2. Meeting with clients
3. Listing homes
4. Showing homes
The odds are that you’re already using remote tools for real estate agents to get in front of your contacts and prospects. Now is the time to put more emphasis on using those tools since you’re probably not going to be meeting people at the local little league game.
· Social Media. If you’re active on social media, you’ll want to continue doing that. If you’re not active now, it’s a good time to start using social media as a marketing tool.
· Blogging. Keep in front of contacts and prospects by publishing regular real estate posts. It’s a good idea to explain how real estate is working virtually to let people know that transactions haven’t stopped. Use blog posts to reinforce your expertise and promote the posts on your social media sites to reach more people and drive traffic to your website.
· Email campaigns. If you haven’t already, send an email to your sphere explaining how real estate is operating in this time of social distancing. Then, keep in touch regularly. One easy way to do that is to send an email newsletter promoting your blog posts. You’ll get the benefit of expanding the reach of your blog posts and you won’t need to write a lot of new content.
· Search Engine Marketing. If you need more traffic to your website to generate leads, consider putting some of your marketing dollars toward search engine marketing. You can use Google AdWords, for example, to drive targeted traffic.
It’s difficult to think of never meeting your clients in person, but that’s how everyone is doing business these days. What you can do instead is use video conferencing, which is one of the best remote tools for real estate agents, and you don’t need to be a tech genius to use it.
There are a number of free video conferencing tools available, and most have paid versions to provide a richer set of features. Some apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime are limiting because all participants must have either a membership or a certain type of equipment. Here are just a few of the services you can consider that anyone can use.
· FreeConferenceCall.com This service offers a dashboard for you to use to control meetings, active speaker technology, the ability to record meetings, and 24/7 phone and e-mail support.
· Zoom.com Zoom offers a free video conferencing plan, but there are restrictions. For example, group meetings can only last 40 minutes, and there is no dedicated support. Zoom has had some security issues, but they have addressed them.
· Skype Skype offers a video chat app. One interesting feature is the ability to blur your background if you use the Skype app. If you’re working from home and don’t have a convenient-looking background, the blur feature could be very helpful.
When you’re listing homes, there are a number of remote tools for real estate agents to consider. You can use video conferencing to meet with clients. If you can’t visit the home in person, you could ask your clients to take you on a virtual walkthrough using one of the video conferencing tools.
While different jurisdictions will have different limitations for in-person showings, you need to develop a marketing plan that makes in-person showings optional. The best way to market a listing is to offer virtual tours, which come in several varieties.
· Pre-recorded tour. If you can enter your listing, you could create a pre-recorded walk-through of the home. You’ll need some practice to make sure you can keep the camera or cell phone steady and not go too fast.
· Real-time tour. The other alternative, if you’re allowed in the listing, is to set up a video call so that you can walk through the house with your buyers, answer their questions and focus in on the areas they’re particularly interested in seeing.
· 3D Tour. The most high-tech option is to prepare 3D tours, another one of the excellent remote tools for real estate agents. It is more costly than other options and many agents reserve its use for high-end listings. Matterport is one of the premiere services, but there are other competitors in the marketplace.
The best remote tools for real estate agents to use when working with buyers are the MLS, video conferences and virtual tours.
Home buyers and real estate agents have used the MLS for years. If you have your own MLS search on your website, be sure to set up each of your buyer clients with an account of their own. If they have an account elsewhere, you can still use the MLS in tandem to narrow down a home search. You can also use video conferences throughout the process of finding the right home for your clients.
If you can enter a listing, you can conduct a real-time home tour or prerecord one. If you can’t enter the home, the listing agent should have been smart enough to provide a virtual tour in order to sell the home.
People have purchased homes unseen in the past for any number of reasons. In today’s environment, it’s just becoming more common. In many states, the buyer will be able to attend the home inspection, which will give them an opportunity to confirm its condition.
Closings have taken place without all parties attending before social distancing. With today’s electronic signature capability, the process of closing remotely is much easier. You can use video conferencing to have all participants attend virtually. And, services such as DocuSign and signNow allow for closing documents to be signed from any location.
LemonBrew knows you need to keep your business rolling during this unprecedented time. We offer another one of the most effective remote tools for real estate agents because we can help you gain access to the industry’s best real estate leads. Protect your business; get started today.