As the global pandemic creates seismic shifts in every industry, Realtors are wondering how to ease the concerns of buyers and sellers in these uncertain times. Although looking out for the well-being of clients isn't new to Realtors, a viral pandemic represents new ground for all of us, and it requires approaching business from a new perspective.
Perhaps it's best to think of it as an extension of what you already do: protecting the interests of the buyers and sellers who entrust some of life's biggest decisions to you.
Already we've seen market shifts in the wake of the novel coronavirus crisis. The National Association of Realtors says it's affected both sides of the transaction. Buyers are backing off in their search, and sellers are pressing pause on the listing. According to NAR, 11% of agents, like you, have seen less buyer traffic, while 7% have seen less seller traffic recently. Diligence, agility and commitment may enable the enterprising Realtor to recapture some of that traffic.
What are some steps you can take to put clients' minds at ease during these challenging times? In short, it's time to pivot from standard practices. Here are some reliable tactics to consider.
Open houses and in-person walkthroughs can be minimized in the interest of public health and client safety. Whether a seller has a family member who is in a high-risk category and fears exposure from potential buyers or a buyer is reticent to enter multiple living spaces, we can limit risk for all parties. Embrace technologies that enable you to show properties without making buyers and sellers fearful or uncomfortable. Video tours, 3D walk-throughs and other virtual showings can help everyone involved feel at ease while doing their home shopping from their current domicile. And when the time is right, and clients are ready, you can conduct in-person showings while taking other precautions.
It's a new environment out there, and that requires a new approach. It's natural for property sellers who still live in their home to have reservations about strangers walking through the property, and potentially spreading a deadly virus. Help manage those fears by making it standard to screen buyers. You can do so with a questionnaire that addresses risk factors like travel history, potential exposure and signs of illness. You may also want to take temperatures of clients before showing a property. Likewise, you may want to meet clients at properties rather than driving them in your vehicle.
Remember to apply your new standards to all clients, and avoid treating some differently based on race. To do so could constitute a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Waves are the new handshakes. But that doesn't mean you and your clients are entirely in the clear. Consider instituting handwashing opportunities before showings, and make hand sanitizer available to potential buyers. If you do hold an open house, be sure to provide sanitizer to all visitors, and you may want to consider having masks available too.
Technology has enabled us to forge creative solutions for buyers and sellers who can't be in the same place at the same time. Also, regulations may change to protect public health and industry. Stay abreast of what's available and possible: virtual closings these days can literally be a lifesaver, in addition to saving everyone some anxiety.
Real estate has always been a high-paced, challenging industry, so as a Realtor, you're well-positioned to be agile in the face of COVID-19. Explore these options for easing client anxiety and protecting both buyers and sellers, and you're sure to weather this economic shift with confidence.