78 percent of realtors say the Coronavirus isn’t keeping home buyers away, but there are still some things you can do to keep your pipeline filled until the national emergency has passed.
Has Coronavirus Impacted the Real Estate Market?
In general, the impact of the Coronavirus has not yet made its way into the real estate market. However, that may change nationally or in local regions should larger outbreaks occur or state and regional authorities issue restrictions. According to the National Association of Realtors’ March 9-10 Economic Pulse Flash Survey,
- 37% – Home buyers’ enthusiasm over low mortgage rates exceeded concerns about stock market fluctuation
- 78% – Novel Coronavirus has not changed levels of buyer interest
- 16% – Buyer interest decreased due to Coronavirus (of note, 21% of California responders and 19% of Washington responders – states with higher instances of the virus – said buyer interest had waned)
- 87% – Coronavirus has not had an affect on the number of homes on the market
- 5% of Washington members and 4% California members reported sellers taking homes off the market vs. 3% nationwide
View NAR’s Economic Pulse Flash Survey full report
Will the Coronavirus Impact the Real Estate Market?
In March, the President declared a national emergency due to the potential spread of COVID-19 virus in the US. International travel and guidelines for social distancing for everyone in the United States. Understandably, this could impact real estate investors, home buyers and sellers in the immediate future:
- Home buyers fearful of attending open houses or touring homes due to risk of exposure
- Home sellers who do not want to open their homes for open houses or home tours to strangers who may be contagious
- Categorically at-risk prospects who are limiting all out-of-home activities
- Home buyers, sellers and real estate investors who are staying out of the market temporarily due to economic or financial uncertainties
For that matter, you, as realtors, also must consider your risk of exposure as you meet with prospects, hold open houses, give home tours, interact with title companies, home stagers, cleaners, contractors and so forth.
How can you practice social distancing while also fulfilling your responsibilities, and while addressing the factors that might be prohibitive to members of your team as well as home buyers, home sellers and real estate investors?
5 Ways Realtors Can Adjust During the Coronavirus Emergency
1. Embrace remote work
Social distancing does not mean isolation! Thanks to technology you have what you and your team need to work remotely together, and most of it fits in the palm of your hand.
- Use productivity apps like Trello and Slack to set goals, encourage accountability, and track and measure results
- Meet up with prospects via free video calling on Skype or Facetime instead of at the coffee shop, the prospects home or your office
- Use online meeting platforms like StartMeeting.com to hold buyer and seller seminars or team meetings
Bear in mind as well that some of your staff may face childcare challenges at this time due to school closings or daycare closings. These remote work-friendly tools can help ensure you don’t lose valuable employees and give them the means to continue to contribute as a member of your team.
2. Virtual tours
While in-person home tours and open houses give prospective buyers a real sense of a property, they are not 100% necessary. Thousands of real estate investors and home buyers purchase real estate properties every year without ever setting foot on them.
Real estate photography, videography and drone photography and videography can provide prospective buyers with layout, condition and other characteristics. You can also hold virtual open houses using your smartphone or in partnership with your real estate videographer (for higher quality production). As an added bonus, these “live” open houses are also then recorded, so they can be played back at any time by interested buyers.
3. Spring for inspections and appraisals
Virtual tours only provide prospective home buyers and real estate investors with part of the picture. When partnered with professional inspections and appraisals, you give buyers confidence in purchasing a property they may be unable to visit personally. Doing this work for prospects up front increases buyer confidence and acts as a buying incentive.
4. Leverage low rates
Historically low borrowing rates are another incentive that stimulates the real estate market. The U.S. Treasury is lowering rates even more to help curb negative economic pressure. Make sure your on and off-line marketing highlights the benefits of taking advantage of low interest rates to home buyers and real estate investors, including that this is likely a time-limited opportunity. If you have a preferred lender, they can be a great resource in helping you share scenarios, case studies and real life examples.
5. Make “clean” part of your story
Whether you hire professional cleaners to do a deep clean of a property before going on the market, before and after an open house, or before a home buyer takes ownership of a property, cleaning is another tool that can incentivize home buyers and sellers. Professional cleaning and sanitizing of a home can give both buyers and sellers confidence and help to overcome fear they have about health risks related to home tours or open houses.
When you hold events such as open houses or home tours, wipe down all door handles, countertops, faucets, cupboard pulls and any other surfaces that are commonly touched with germ-killing wipes or disinfectant. Provide hand sanitizer to prospects before entering and upon leaving the property. Buy branded hand sanitizer to send home with prospective buyers or sellers or to give away at client meetings.
If your office remains open to the public and/or employees, make “clean” part of your story there, too. Have your office professionally cleaned and make the same wipe-down process noted above part of your office protocol. Equip your space’s entry and common areas with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes so that people are empowered to create a safer space for clients and co-workers.
From buyer incentives like pre-paid inspections, appraisals, professional cleaning and low interest rates to actions you take to protect yourself, your team and your clients, you can help to ensure that your real estate pipeline remains active during the Coronavirus (or COVID-19) emergency. Even after the crisis has passed, you may even determine that many of these changes stay part of your real estate practice going forward.