Tips for Reopening Real Estate Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
As health restrictions are lifting, more businesses across the nation are reopening. This includes the real estate industry. While the housing market slowed down amidst COVID-19 concerns, the demand to buy or sell homes will rally.
The question is, how do you prepare your business for a post- (or peri-) pandemic world?
This guide from Nextdoor will give you some actionable tips to help you reopen your real estate business safely and successfully.
1. Safety Starts with Your Office
Your office is the hub of your local business. It’s where clients share their home-buying dreams and where your staff comes to work every day. You want everyone to feel safe and comfortable from the moment they walk in. By taking necessary health precautions, you can create a safe and healthy environment for anyone who steps through your door.
- Health protocols – Just because businesses are opening doesn’t mean the threat of COVID-19 is eliminated. By creating office health guidelines, you’ll protect every client, staff member, and neighbor who stops by your newly reopened office. You can look to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidelines for workplace safety in a COVID-19 world, and don’t forget to try these ideas:
- Limit how many people can be in the office at one time
- Require masks on the premises
- Encourage staff members to stay home if they’re feeling sick
- Design your office with health in mind – A room’s layout can have a huge impact on the people standing in it. Rearrange and redesign the layout of your office to support the health and hygiene of your clients and staff. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Separate workspaces according to social distancing guidelines
- Place hand sanitizer stations at the entrance and throughout the office
- Put containers of sanitizing wipes on every desk
- Post your health protocols prominently
- Supplies – Make sure your office is fully equipped to maintain a high standard for health, hygiene, and sanitization. Consider making the below easily accessible:
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand soap
- Sanitizing wipes
- Disposable masks
- Surface cleaner
2. Put Client Safety First
Once you’ve transformed your office into a COVID-19-conscious zone, it’s time to look to your client services. Alter your usual offerings to put your client’s health and safety first. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Reopen open houses – Open houses are a keystone to any real estate business. And now that businesses are reopening, so will open houses. Implement health practices like the below to make sure everyone can take a safe peek at the home you’re selling:
- Require visitors to wear masks (have some disposable ones on hand just in case)
- Have visitors use hand sanitizer before entering the home
- Keep the number of visitors to a minimum and encourage social distancing
- Thoroughly sanitize surfaces when the doors close
- Space out open house viewing appointments as to ensure health and safety of visitors
- Home tours – Every potential homeowner wants to walk through their dream house and imagine the next chapter of their lives. Put their minds at ease—given the concerns of this pandemic—with a few of these practices recommended by the National Association of Realtors:
- Work with sellers to guarantee sanitization before showings
- Bring masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, and booties for clients
- Limit the number of people per showing
- Minimize time spent in the home by showing your clients a virtual tour first
- Distance closings – Thanks to services like e-notaries and e-signatures, closing doesn’t have to happen in person. Create a virtual conference room for your clients to seal the deal on their new home.
3. Real Estate, Your Virtual Office
Many of your clients will continue to limit the time they spend outside the home. Make it easy for them to access your services by fortifying your virtual office. Build and expand your online presence and offerings. You probably already have some sort of online presence, such as a dedicated website or social media profiles.
Today, consider your online presence as a virtual extension of your brick-and-mortar office.
To help your virtual office approximate your physical one, you should follow some best practices, including but not limited to:
- Accessibility and visibility
- Consistent branding across various web locations
- Explicit communication protocols
Your clients (existing and potential) should be able to find and navigate your site(s) or profile(s) easily. They should get the same messaging about your business regardless of where they encounter it online (your own site, your Facebook profile, your Nextdoor Business Page, etc.). And they should have clear expectations about how to communicate with you, including how, and how soon, they can expect a response.
Update all of your platforms to reflect the changes you’re making to address health concerns. If you’re hosting more virtual open houses, implementing health protocols, or requiring masks at every client meeting, put this information front and center for your audience.
4. Offer Online Opportunities
If this pandemic has taught anything, it’s that businesses need to be online. Reopen your business at your brick-and-mortar offices and digitally to double your reach and keep your clients protected. Try a few of these digital upgrades to your real estate business:
- Live tours – You can show a property online via a live, guided tour. These can be private or public. Depending on the circumstances of the home and the legal status of social distancing in your state, you or the owner can:
- Walk through and showcase the house with a camera
- Answer viewers’ questions in real-time
You can learn more about implementing virtual tours through the National Association of Realtors.
- Interactive open houses – It’s like a live tour, just pre-prepared and potentially loaded with features. An open house could be a simple video, or clients might be able do things like:
- View individual rooms in their preferred order
- Access measurements and other features in visual overlay
- Toggle light settings
- Configure real or virtual furniture
Best yet, they can access the material at any time!
- Interactive guides – Similar to live how-tos and other content detailed above, prepared videos and multimedia guides can be even more integrated. Foregoing the live element, you can still promote interaction with features like:
- Modules, segmentation
- Links to other products and resources
- Communication options
- Integrated tools (checklists, etc.)
- Scheduled appointments – Likewise, buyers, sellers, owners, renters, and any other clients can book appointments to meet with you in one-on-one or group settings via video. Consider using Zoom or Google Hangouts, as both platforms are relatively user-friendly.
5. Stay Up to Date
Staying up-to-date on legislation and health climate changes will only benefit your business, clients, and staff. Stay aware of the changing situation by enforcing these habits:
Subscribe to COVID-19 updates – Check your local and state government websites to sign up for COVID-19 newsletter updates. You’ll be the first to know if any new legislation has passed that could affect your real estate business.
Check health sites daily – Stay on top of how the pandemic is progressing by checking health sites. These sites are consistently updated with current information about the health crisis:
Follow the News – Tune into both local and national news to understand what’s going on in your community and in the country.
6. Spread the Word, You’re Open for Business!
Your health protocols are in place, your office is a sanctuary of sanitation, now it’s time to tell everyone that you’re open for business! Reach your clients and potential clients quickly and easily with a messaging campaign across two key channels:
- Social media – Throughout the pandemic, more and more customers have retreated online. Reach your customers by bolstering your social media presence across all channels to announce your reopening.
- Email newsletters – Send out an email to your clients for your reopening. However, avoid salesy language. A personal email announcing your reopening, thanking your staff and clients for their support through this difficult time, and detailing your new safety measures will make a great impact.
7. Tap Into Your Neighborhood Network with Nextdoor
As a realtor, your business is intimately linked with your neighborhood. You play an important role in the community, connecting people to the homes and businesses that make up its fabric. Why not meet your neighborhood where it lives online?
For that, there’s Nextdoor.
Nextdoor for Real Estate Professionals is your first and best option for reaching your neighbors, enabling them to interact with you and your business and spread the word about your services. Given the nature of COVID-19, the power of community is immeasurable. People are looking to their immediate circles for support. By joining this conversation and offering your real estate services, you might be able to find locals that are excited to come out of COVID-19 to make a sale or acquisition!
The Future Of Real Estate
In the coming months, as we flatten the curve and new cases and casualties involving COVID-19 wane and eventually stop, things will continue to change. While the world may not return to what we know as normal, preparing your business for a “new normal” is essential to a successful and sustainable reopening.
But so long as you put your clients, staff, and partners first, stay informed, and remain flexible, your business will thrive. Apply these tips to point you in the right direction for successfully reopening your real estate business.
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