Realtors: adopt a virtual listing process and you never have to leave the safety of your home during COVID-19.
We have been hearing this word, “virtual,” a lot lately in the real estate industry. What does it mean for your business as a real estate agent? And how can you shift to using a virtual listing process to adapt during the COVID-19 crisis?
I had a call with one of my coaching clients, Joe Nelson, from Kansas City Missouri. I met Joe just over four years ago. He had just gotten his license at that time, and he was getting into real estate. In a short period of time, Joe has grown a team that is selling in the ballpark of one hundred homes a year. His team was on a record-setting pace at the start of 2020, looking to significantly surpass 2019 numbers. Covid-19 showed up, and I’m not sure that it is slowing them down all that much.
Joe told me that sure, the way they do business has changed a little. But, they are still selling multiple houses a week. In Kansas city, Missouri, real estate has been deemed an essential service, but for the next 30 days, Joe and his team are forced to stay at home. Everybody must stay at home.
Watch my full conversation with Joe here, and I’ve summarized some of the key takeaways below.
We can’t give up – our clients need us.
We are really trying to live in a completely virtual environment where real estate agents do not go to the home in any way, shape, or form. We’ve been forced to adjust and pivot and try not to give up. That’s been the biggest thing – we can’t give up. We’ve got clients that need to buy and sell homes right now. They don’t want to wait. While I was talking to Joe, he said that out of nowhere, he got a text from somebody who said they want their house on the market next week.
People are trying to combat the economic fallout. There are people that need money right now. They’re losing jobs and they need their house to be sold. Some people are also looking at this situation as an opportunity and want to buy up investment property. So even though it all seems gloom and doom, it feels a lot like 2008. People took advantage of the opportunity at that time. Many homes sold.
It’s very important to have a fishing pole in the water right now. If you want to catch fish – if you want to better serve your clients – you need to be working right now. Joe Nelson and his team are doing it and they are seeing the results to back that up.
Virtual showings via video conference
Joe and his team have begun to do virtual showings. They have been getting the sellers to participate in these virtual showings, and it’s something we’ve been teaching to all of our coaching clients here at Icenhower Coaching and Consulting. Everybody is stuck in their houses right now, so we have to find a way. The sellers provide a tour of their home via video conference call. So, on the call, we have the listing agent (yourself), the seller, the buyer, and the buyer’s agent.
Prepare for your virtual showing and do a practice run
It can feel a little clunky, there’s no doubt about it, and of course it isn’t as good as an in-person showing. Joe listed a house last week and he started to get some interest in it. They were going to do a virtual showing via Zoom video conference call with the seller, buyer, and buyer’s agent. Joe told me he was a little nervous about it because he wasn’t sure how it was going to go. He had never done it before.
He was wondering how awkward it might be having the buyer and the seller on a call together. And, both agents don’t usually see each other face to face. Surprisingly, that part was really cool. He actually really enjoyed that part. Joe noted that instead of their interactions only being with papers and negotiations, it was nice to humanize the process a bit. There’s another silver lining.
They did a practice run Thursday night to prep for the next day and Joe emphasized that this was key. Preparing your seller to do a virtual listing will help the entire video call go more smoothly and it will make you feel more prepared.
Hit record and save some time
All of the sudden, Joe and his team were blowing up. They had so many requests for a live, video conference showing. Joe’s seller was about to have a very busy schedule giving virtual tours of their home. Because the process is a bit more involved and less streamlined, Joe remembered that Zoom video conferencing has a “record” feature.
With 10 minutes to squeeze in another “showing”, Joe and his seller walked through the tour, just the two of them. Joe did most of the talking and his seller pointed the camera as directed. Was it perfect and refined with a high production value? No. But the buyers were thrilled with it and they ended up getting multiple offers because of that video alone, without needing to do a ton of live virtual showings.
Pivot and shift as you go
I love everything about what Joe and his team did in this situation because they pivoted and shifted their business. They adapted on the go and made it work. Right now, you can get away with low quality production. People are just impressed that you’re finding a way to help them through the virtual listing process and do business during the Covid-19 crisis.
Dealing with naysayers against virtual real estate in the Coronavirus crisis
Some people are stuck condemning others for trying to do business even though it can be done safely. These virtual showings allow agents to adhere to every stay at home and shelter in place order. We are still doing business, which is keeping our economy moving. Real estate agents and teams are finding ways to work from home and adapt. People are going to notice.
A lot of people are naysayers right now, you’ve seen it. I think everybody across the country has felt this surge of typically lower producing agents that are trying to put themselves on a pedestal by pointing their finger and saying, “You are evil because you’re still doing business.” But the thing is, we can do these things 100% virtually. Somehow these people think they are of higher moral fortitude because they are not doing any business at all, which I don’t understand.
Real estate transactions can be done safely during this time
Right now if somebody wants to move, they will get it done and they can get it done safely. That’s the important part. There’s a lot less competition right now. There’s not a lot of homes that a lot of people want to sell right now. It’s inconvenient to sell during this Coronavirus crisis. It’s inconvenient to buy toilet paper, let alone sell your house. Offers are coming in over asking price right now because buyers are swinging for the fences. As a result, sellers who are dealing with the inconvenience are seeing it pay off.
The market is HOT right now
It’s important to understand that right now, if a seller puts their house on the market right now, there is a feeding frenzy of buyers. If you don’t believe me, think about where you live, think about your home’s median price right now. And then imagine if you had a listing at that median price that went on the market right now, with this stay-at-home order. You’d have multiple offers on it. It is a good time to list because we have a red hot market. If you are waiting until after everything is over, who knows when that will be, and quite frankly that is a dice roll on your career. That’s risky.
Here at Icenhower Coaching and Consulting, we have coaches across North America, and we have been seeing the same thing everywhere. But regardless of what we are seeing, people still think we are experiencing a slow down. They think, the market is slower and therefore it’s time to catch up on Netflix. Or maybe it’s a good time to paint my back fence or start a garden. I don’t know where this information is coming from because markets are absolutely red hot.
Change leads to turnover; turnover leads to commission
Yes, there are some buyers that can’t buy anymore, but there was very little inventory out there to begin with, and now there is even less. Now, we are seeing people listing their homes to get liquid, and people coming out of the stock market to buy property as an investment opportunity. There is change happening everywhere, which creates turnover. Turnover creates commission income. This situation is really jostling the market loose right now. Now is the time to advance your position within your market as a real estate agent.
Virtual staging: set yourself apart even while in lockdown
Another interesting way that Joe and his team are going virtual is through using virtual staging. As a team, they decided that they want to sell homes virtually, from start to finish – every step of the way. Under normal circumstances, you might hire a professional stager to work on every single one of our listings. That’s was also part of Joe’s process.
There’s no reason to change that process if you don’t have to. Staging can make a listing sell more quickly, and for more money, and sets you apart from some of the other Realtors. Joe now works with his stager via Zoom – just like he did the listing appointment. Joe is doing it all virtually and told his stager exactly what he wants her to do to set up his listing to look its best. This is part of Joe’s new virtual listing process during the COVID-19 crisis.
Because doing everything virtually was important to Joe, he made sure that his closings are virtual, too. He has been calling them, “Curbside Closings”. Nobody went into an office. Nobody had to talked to anyone in person. Joe has been working closely with the title company he uses. The closer brings the paperwork to the client’s car door. The clients take the paperwork in the car, goes back inside, calls them on a cell phone, walks through the paperwork, signs everything, and walks back out to hand it back. The paperwork is done, just like that. Nobody needs to sit in the same room together.
The new “normal” is a virtual listing process during COVID-19
There are a lot of benefits to making this shift to “virtual business” in the long term. It’s forcing our real estate industry to adapt. There are two ways to look at it. You can be upset about the whole thing and refuse to adapt to these new technological practices until after this is all over. To me, that is waving white flag. Or, you are saying, okay – let’s shift now. Let’s do this.
Joe Nelson and his team are a great example of taking this challenge head on and embracing this shift in our industry. On our coaching calls, we talked about this right away. How are we going to deal with this? We have to do something, right? Even if you are making it up along the way, even if you are trying new things and finding what works, you are making progress and you will develop a system. And if you think you have a good plan, you will run into obstacles. This is a new world and there is no perfect process right now.
Learn through trial and error
Creating a virtual listing process can feel very messy at times, especially when you are also dealing with the fear surrounding the Covid-19 crisis. Through trial and error, you will develop this process. “Failing forward” is in part an important part of business. You must learn as you go. You can’t figure everything out ahead of time because things will get thrown at you. Joe Nelson explained that it can all feel very messy and complicated, but that the challenge will grow you as an agent, and in his case, as a real estate team.
You must be willing to try new things, to adapt, to “make it happen.” Joe and his team have found a way to adapt and have created a virtual listing process during the Covid-19 crisis, and they closed seven transactions last week. There’s something to be said for that.
Keep your head up
Yes, all of this changing and adapting can be stressful. Stay connected and continue to educate yourself on how you can be shifting your own business practices during this time. You can follow us on Real Estate Agent Round Table – it’s our Facebook group, and we post helpful resources and relevant content daily. It’s also a great place to connect with like-minded real estate agents who are embracing this change to our industry. Keep your head up – we’re going to get through this together!