Picture: Shaun Rademeyer, CEO MultiNet; Sandy Walsh, managing director Property.CoZa South Africa; Manny Testa, managing director Blue Print Realty.
Real estate has always experienced ups and downs, often in line with economic cycles. None of those disruptions has been as significant as the Covid-19 pandemic.
About a year ago on 27 March it happened overnight that traditional processes for marketing and showing homes were shut down.
At the start, nationwide lockdown regulations prohibited open houses and in-person showings. Questions arose about how to sign paperwork and get documents notarised. However, the real estate industry soon adapted new ways to assist buyers and sellers with their goals.
Going forward the following should be on your checklist for a successful strategy in real estate in the abnormal new way of doing business during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
- Familiarity with local Covid guidelines and operating rules
Rules regarding business operations and processes change daily. It is crucial to stay up to date with the constantly evolving guidelines. You don’t want to do anything that compromises your business or puts anyone’s health at risk. Last year already Rebosa published a set of Covid-19 Workplace Readiness Guidelines. Following these rules will help support your business strategy and provide useful insights to help guide your clients during their purchase or sales process.
- Stay attuned to industry trends and external factors
According to Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of MultiNet, where staying on top of trends and factors that impact your ability to do your job has always been key, it is even more so now. “It is critical to track interest rates, mortgage products, and pricing changes. The parameters of your intelligence-gathering process must expand to address the changes the pandemic has caused,” he says.
For example, low inventory in many areas may be due to a lot of homeowners wanting to stay put, because of the current economic uncertainty. On the other hand, in many areas demand in especially low to medium cost housing has increased for two main reasons: first-time buyers looking to secure their future by getting into the property market; and the desire of many families to upgrade from smaller properties thanks to the new work-from-home trend.
Last year’s dramatic drop in the interest rate, which is expected to remain low this year, saw home loan applications from first-time buyers increase substantially. Rademeyer predicts that this trend will continue for the first two quarters of this year.
You need to know how some buying trends have changed. That subway tile and farmhouse sink no longer matter nearly as much. Instead, extra bedrooms, dedicated office spaces, and pools define the buyer wish list.
Times have changed – dedicated office spaces are high on most buyers’ wish lists.
- Get accustomed to the remote showing process
Before Covid-19, some real estate agents had already discovered the power of cool gadgets like drones to elevate their online marketing efforts. More buyers now enjoy access to apps and sites that let them pre-shop potential homes, scroll through picture galleries, use 3D tours, and watch videos with visual perspectives that regular photos cannot show.
Tech gadgets like drone footage of a property help estate agents elevate their online marketing efforts.
Technology is a key way to help buyers become emotionally vested in the houses they see. This means quickly mastering the process of creating and sharing these virtual marketing tools.
The shift to digital platforms for communicating and marketing in real estate means that enhanced photography and videography to capture the imagination of buyers is crucial. Property professionals upped their game with professional photos and virtual tours and delivering this information to the market quickly is just as important.
- Enhance listing information
Along with the need for more visuals, the written content in your listings have become much more important than it was prior to Covid-19. The more details, the better prospective buyers understand and visualise what they may not be able to see in person.
Enhance listings with the following tactics:
- Describe more features inside and outside of the home.
- Add room and closet measurements.
- List all improvements to the home.
- Note any city bylaws that allow for additions like a second story, placement of other buildings on the property, for animals like horses.
- Include exterior details about the garden, any auxiliary dwelling units, entertainment features, and house positioning.
- Expand the listing to provide more information about the neighbourhood and nearby community, including amenities, schools, transportation, and entertainment.
This additional content will help improve your search engine optimisation efforts ensuring buyers searching for those types of homes can find your listings faster.
- Collect and analyse relevant data to connect with your target audience
There is a wealth of information within reach that can help grab the attention of buyers. However, you may not be sure how to interpret the information you need or how to organise it so that it’s useful.
Use a lead-gen or subscription form to get more information about your prospective buyers. These forms can integrate with CRM and email platforms to improve the accuracy and efficiency of your marketing efforts.
“Our IT systems have the ability to upload all imagery and content just once and to transfer this to various marketing platforms in seconds, like websites, direct links to social media platforms or reaching specific databases via email using our bespoke CRM system,” says Sandy Walsh, managing director Property.CoZa South Africa.
- Deliver valuable information to boost certainty in uncertain times
Buyers and sellers are looking for information that can help them confidently make smart decisions in uncertain times. Now that they are spending so much time at home, they are searching the internet for information, making this an ideal opportunity to promote thought leadership and become a go-to source.
Get started by creating and nurturing a presence on multiple channels:
- Create accounts on multiple social media channels, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook, where you can share your tips, advice, community news, and other relevant content.
- Develop a blog that regularly offers home buying and selling tips based on your knowledge of trends, local community information, market insights, and design ideas.
- Host an online webinar or workshop for buyers, sellers, or investors. These free online events help you get in front of prospective buyer and sellers and position you as a credible partner to work with when selling or buying a home. Include a Q&A session and then leverage the registrations as leads for your marketing efforts.
Be sure to share links to all of these information channels through your social media and email campaigns. Regularly update each of these channels with relevant content to keep your audience engaged.
- Spend more time getting to know your prospects
Your clients and prospects may be struggling with various challenges. One of the best things you can do right now is reach out and check in with those on your list to see how they’re doing. Rather than always being in “sales mode,” switch gears and focus on the individuals with whom you’re working.
“We believe that the best way to sell residential real estate is through intensely personal relationships with our clients and so we will continue to meet with and advise clients in person,” says Manny Testa, managing director, Blue Print Realty.
Build your relationships, ask if there’s anything you can do to help. You can also be proactive and share the following:
- Inspirational quotes or positive sayings
- A list of fun activities and resources for clients with kids
- Specific information requested about financial assistance programs, rent or mortgage help, and job resources.
On this topic, Walsh commented: “Our Matchmaking tool helps property professionals to quickly match buyers to listings and listings to buyers, and to produce a brochure of their top six potential properties in minutes to meet the needs of their clients.”
It’s time to evolve and adapt to the new buying and selling environment by leveraging the opportunities created by the pandemic as well as shifts in consumer preferences.