It is yet to be seen exactly what short and long-term effects COVID-19 will have in the real estate industry. However, one thing that is certain is that agents need to innovate and adapt. This doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel, but rather look for digital transformation opportunities to improve existing processes and tailor them for the world we now live in.
How should real estate professionals update their business operations in both the short and long term?
At Amitree, we have over 100,000 real estate agents using our real estate organizational product, Folio. This allows us to see how top agents are responding, what’s working, and what agents can expect in the near and not so near future.
Here are the best practices top agents, transaction coordinators and brokers are utilizing to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and position themselves strategically for the market recovery.
Communication is King
If you’ve ever attended a real estate marketing workshop, you may have heard “Content is King”. Well, the new king is communication. Top agents who are maintaining some transaction volume are proactively communicating with their clients, prospects and colleagues.
Sending an email letting your prospects and clients know that you are still operating and able to continue transacting not only gives clients with existing transactions confidence, but it also is an important step toward retaining prospective clients whether they are ready to continue their home buying/selling process or not.
We recommend creating three types of emails:
- A direct email template that you can send to current clients letting them know of changes to the buying/selling process and how you are ensuring their transaction will still close.
- A direct email template to engaged prospects explaining how certain processes have changed and giving insight into potential impacts on the market. Including third party sources shows your prospects that you are dedicated to keeping informed on industry trends and impact, which builds trust.
- A general email blast to send to the rest of your marketing list clearly explaining whether you are still showing homes, starting new transactions, etc., as well as a few insights on the impact and trends you are seeing in your local market. Be sure to end with an offer to discuss further with anyone that has any questions or concerns you may be able to help with.
Utilize the Right Tech
There is no shortage of real estate tech tools available, but choosing the right ones is essential to being more productive. When deciding where to adopt technology in your business, think about which processes take significant amounts of your time and how much that time can be saved with the right tools.
Tip: Make a quick spreadsheet or list and label each process as High, Medium or Low impact based on the parameters above.
Every real estate professional works differently, however, we’ve found that the following tools are valuable to the vast majority to real estate professionals:
Calendly is a calendar management tool that allows people to schedule a call or meeting without the back and forth usually needed.
By providing a dedicated link to your Calendly calendar, the tool enables your clients, prospects, or other professionals to schedule a virtual meeting or call with you with just a few clicks. It even integrates with Zoom to automatically set up a video call.
We also recommend inserting your Calendly calendar link into your email signature with text such as, “Have a question? I’d love to connect. Please click here to schedule a time on my calendar.”
Calendly offers a limited free plan that is sufficient for many agents.
Virtual Tour Software
Many real estate agents have already adopted virtual tour software or services, but if you haven’t, now is the perfect time to add it to your arsenal. Virtual tours are a great way to increase your number and quality of leads.
Let’s be clear that a virtual tour is more than an animated slideshow of photos - it’s an immersive, 3D walkthrough of the home. By giving buyers an in-depth and cohesive experience, virtual tours ensure that clients or potential clients are more informed about properties. This leads to more serious buyers and less time showing properties that aren’t a good fit.
It isn’t hard to see how this technology has become even more valuable to running your real estate business during this time. By providing an alternate method for prospective buyers to view your properties, you can minimize the need for in-person showings. Only prospective buyers who have taken the virtual tour and are highly interested will be scheduling showings.
HomeJab and VPix360 are two companies that offer virtual tour technology and services. The two services work slightly differently but both are currently operating (with modified processes to be in compliance with local restrictions) and able to facilitate new virtual tour capture. Both services either provide or connect you with professionals who can film your property.
At Amitree, we are big fans of DocuSign - we’re partners and have integrated their industry leading DocuSign eSignature capabilities directly into our product, Folio (see below).
From eliminating the need for in-person signings to providing a record of documentation and signatories, DocuSign is a natural fit for streamlining real estate processes.
We won’t go into too much detail here on DocuSign as, if you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with DocuSign’s capabilities and benefits. One thing worth mentioning is make sure to take advantage of your NAR membership to get an exclusive deal on DocuSign for Realtors®.
Last, but certainly not least, is our product, Folio.
(Folio is 35% off for DocuSign users for a limited time to help during the ongoing challenges facing real estate professionals.)
Folio acts as a virtual assistant, keeping your email inbox organized by client, creating timelines that you can share with clients and colleagues, and syncing with your existing calendar to make sure you never miss a deadline or appointment. When you’re operating in the current circumstances where everything has to be done online, Folio can make sure everyone stays on the same page with fewer calls and updates.
Real estate professionals simply add the Folio extension to their respective email client (Gmail or Outlook365) and Folio does the rest, automatically identifying and grouping emails related to the same transaction.
Folio extracts the files and documents from these emails to eliminate the need to dig through your inbox to find the document you need. With just a few clicks, you can get any attachment signed by the relevant parties using DocuSign - right from within your email. The tool also allows you to easily share timelines with your clients and colleagues keeping everyone on the same page and on track - a task that is more challenging than ever right now.
With just a few clicks, you can ensure transactions close on time as everyone involved is informed and aware of upcoming deadlines.