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Adapting to New Rules: Tips for Real Estate Agents

September 3, 2020
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
September 3, 2020 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to run your real estate business as usual, the low inventory of homes on the market ensures that housing prices won’t drop any time soon.

According to experts, housing demand and prices are expected to hold steady, motivating sellers as well as buyers.

However, it’s undeniably harder to sell homes when you’re working around pandemic-related real estate regulations. And with so many states pausing their reopening plans, tracking all these new real estate rules can be confusing.  

Keep reading to discover strategies for dealing with real estate regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, including open house alternatives, contactless paperwork solutions, and more. 

 

Tip #1: Follow Your State’s REALTORS® Association 

Currently, the federal government discourages gatherings of more than ten people. Depending on the state you live in, such gatherings may be outright banned. 

For this reason, you may want to opt for staggered or virtual showings over open houses. To stay on top of rules for gatherings as well as other real estate-related regulations, check your state’s REALTORS® association website frequently, as such rules vary by region. 

For instance, Oregon real estate professionals are required to wear face coverings indoors and outside whenever social distancing isn’t possible, while in Wyoming, real estate rules are less restrictive. 

Your state’s REALTORS® association can also tell you about notable real estate-related legislation, such as when foreclosure or eviction moratoriums expire. 

 

Tip #2: Use a Retouching Service

If your sellers aren’t comfortable with allowing a professional photographer into their home, don’t despair. You don’t have to settle for blurry, narrow camera phone photos for your listings. 

Instead, take your own high-quality photos of the property. Here’s how to get the best results:

  • Open all the blinds and curtains, and turn on all the lights. You want the home to look as bright as possible.
  • Turn your camera sideways so that you can get wide, landscape-style photos.
  • Stabilize your camera phone with a tripod. You can get one for less than $20 from most online retailers.

Once you’re finished shooting, send the photos to a real estate photo-editing company. They’ll be able to sharpen the images, get rid of visual clutter, improve the contrast, and work other modern-day wonders. 

The end product: real estate photos that truly sell your listing.

 

Tip #3: Edit Videos with Apps

Video walk-throughs were a high-impact marketing tool before the pandemic; now, they’re absolutely vital. 

In the past, potential buyers had multiple opportunities to evaluate homes in person. Now, because of the real estate regulations regarding open houses and contact between people from different households, a video walk-through may be a buyer’s only chance to “spend” significant time with their potential new property.

As mentioned above, if your sellers aren’t comfortable having professionals shoot their home, your best bet is to do it yourself. Light the home brightly, plan your route beforehand, and try to hold your camera as still as possible. 

You can edit your walkthrough footage with free video-editing apps, such as Animoto.

 

Tip #4: Be Aware of New Client Needs

COVID-19 has changed the way that many home buyers live and work. Features that were once selling points are now less attractive, while old-fashioned amenities are seen as more appealing

To elaborate:

  • Open floor plans are less popular – In many households, one or both home buyers are working from home, while kids are studying remotely. Due to this, open floor plans have lost their charm. Why? Because they allow noise to carry. When marketing homes, emphasize their privacy-enhancing aspects.
  • Home office space is a must-have – As discussed above, parents and kids alike need quiet spaces to work in. So if a listing has a sun porch, “bonus” room, or finished basement, be sure to talk up its home office possibilities.
  • Green space is huge – Especially in urban areas, home buyers are desperate for private outdoor spaces that allow them to safely play, relax, and entertain. Gardening has become a common hobby for younger generations as well. Capitalize on green space interest by staging even the tiniest backyards with patio furniture and potted plants.
  • Clients want kitchen storage – During the early stages of the pandemic, people began buying dry goods in massive quantities. That habit hasn’t gone away. Bulk shopping is cheaper for consumers, as well as better for the environment. However, all those bulk goods can create storage problems. If your listings have pantries and other types of overflow storage, don’t forget to mention it in these homes’ descriptions.

 

Tip #5: Host Watch Parties

An informal method for marketing your listings, watch parties are live video walk-throughs that you can create with your smartphone. The most common platforms for watch parties are Facebook and Instagram.  

While watch parties don’t necessarily show homes in the most glamorous light, the fact that they’re live means that they’re interactive. During a watch party, you can take questions from viewers, making them similar to an open house.

To make sure your watch parties are well-attended, advertise them on all of your social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Additionally, contact hyperlocal buyers using Nextdoor. Consider making events on Eventbrite and offering tickets to them, as that will give you an idea beforehand of how many people will be coming. 

 

Tip #6: Ask for Pre-Approval Letters

Before scheduling an in-person showing, ask the potential buyer to get a pre-approval letter from their lender. 

Not only will this help all parties to avoid potentially unhealthy contact, but you’ll also find out whether the buyer is truly serious about purchasing this home.

In addition, pre-approval letters give you a rough idea of your client’s buying power. Once you know their price range, you’ll be able to maximize their time (and yours) by only showing them homes that are appropriate for their buying ability.   

 

Tip #7: Sign up for an Electronic Document-Signing Service

Online document-signing services, such as DocuSign, make it possible for you to process paperwork without ever coming into contact with your clients.

In an era when the act of sharing a pen is against the new real estate rules in most places, such services can save you a great deal of time and trouble. 

 

Tip #8: Embrace Precautions

You can build trust in your services by making safety a top priority. Demonstrate to clients that you’re adapting to the new real estate regulations by:

  • Avoiding open houses
  • Not showing properties of COVID-positive owners or to COVID-positive buyers
  • Following your state’s pandemic regulations
  • Staggering in-person showings
  • Sanitizing homes before and after each showing
  • Social distancing during home showings

In addition, it’s wise to tone down your social media presence during this time. Be cognizant of the fact that some potential buyers may be dealing with personal loss, and acknowledge community stresses in your posts. 

At the same time, this doesn’t mean stop getting the word out.

 

Tip #9: Keep Marketing

As always, the most crucial rule for real estate professionals is to keep marketing, regardless of pandemic-related conditions in your area. Eventually, the situation will change, and when it does, buyers will still want to find new homes and sellers will still want to put their properties on the market. 

To make sure that you’re the real estate agent who locals turn to first, continue to promote your services by:

  • Beefing up your website – Blogs, podcasts, and other forms of content marketing can improve your website’s Google ranking and win you attention from buyers outside your usual professional circle. Even better, you can create this content from home.
  • Maintaining relationships – You may not be able to see clients in person, but you can still call or email them. Take the time to casually chat up past clients—it may lead them to recommend you to family or friends later.
  • Taking advantage of Nextdoor – The only platform that allows you to reach a 100% local audience of verified neighbors, Nextdoor maximizes your advertising budget. Get started by setting up a free Business Page and becoming a Neighborhood Sponsor.. You can promote your services with posts, while Nextdoor’s real estate section allows you to advertise your listings to a hyperlocal audience.

By using these techniques to connect with buyers and sellers in your community, you’ll strengthen your business long-term.

 

Stay Positive

It’s an unusual time for you and your clients, but the real estate industry is still very active. While you may have some difficulty adjusting to the new real estate rules, you can keep your business in good shape by following COVID-19 best practices for real estate agents.

These include:

  • Regularly checking your state’s REALTORS® association website for updates on real estate-related COVID-19 regulations
  • Professionalizing listing photos by having them retouched
  • Using video-editing apps to refine your walk-through videos
  • Emphasizing pandemic-friendly selling points, such as green space, home office space, and extra storage
  • Hosting watch parties as a virtual substitute for open houses
  • Ask for potential buyers for pre-approval letters before in-person showings
  • Making signing paperwork contactless with electronic document-signing services
  • Taking sensible sanitation precautions
  • Continuously marketing your services to your community 

By applying these tips, you’ll ensure success now and far into the future.

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Additional sources: 

Elite Agent. How Real Estate Agents Can Market Property in the Age of COVID-19. https://eliteagent.com/how-real-estate-agents-can-market-property-in-the-age-of-covid-19/

National Association of Realtors. 5 Design Trends Emerging During the Pandemic. https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/styled-staged-sold/5-design-trends-emerging-during-the-pandemic

National Association of Realtors. Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®. https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus-a-guide-for-realtors


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Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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