Many industries are being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. Real estate is one of them. Many managing brokers are taking precautionary measures and implementing new policies due to the impact of the coronavirus on real estate. The focus is on the safety of their agents, other agents, clients, and the public. They are doing their best to modify ways of doing business. They are focusing on the three P's: prudence, people and production.
Prudence, People, and Production
Managing brokers are trying to be as cautious as they can about these unprecedented times. This is where prudence comes in. They want to do what's best in regards to "flattening the curve" of the number of people who contract the virus. Managing brokers are trying to protect the people by showing care and concern. Protecting the people is one of the key concepts in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors®. Managing brokers also want production to continue as much as possible. There are people that really need to purchase or rent homes right now. There are also people who need to sell or rent out their homes or properties right now. Brokers and agents just need to be careful and follow safety measures when producing.
Managing brokers are asking their agents to work as remotely as possible. Many agents are set up at home with desktop computers, laptops, scanners, copiers and so on. They should all have smart-phones. Brokers are having virtual team meetings and training classes for their agents. It is possible to do quite a bit of work at home and still produce transactions.
Electronic Signature Programs
There are electronic signature programs for agents to use, such as DocuSign. There is really no need to meet with people in person to get their signatures. DocuSign is a legally acceptable program. So if agents need their client's signature, they just need to scan the document, attach it to the DocuSign program and send it to the client. The client just clicks on the spaces that require initials or signatures. The agent can set it up for more than one person to sign the same document. Once everyone has signed it, it is sent back to every party in the transaction as a fully executed document.
Video Conferencing a Comparative Market Analysis
If a real estate agent has a client who wants to sell or rent out their property, they can set up a video conference. There are programs available for this, such as Skype, join.me, Google hangouts, Cisco webex, or even Facetime. The client can give the agent a tour of their home. They can discuss the home, including any updates or upgrades. The agent can then prepare a comparative market analysis of similar homes in the subdivision or area and email it to the client. If the client wants to move forward with listing his home, he can provide the agent with photos that will be used until the pandemic is over. If the client and agent are comfortable with the agent going to the house to take the listing photos, then the agent can practice a "no-touch photo appointment." This means that the agent will go to the home, wear gloves, not touch anything, stay away from the residents, take the photos and leave as quickly as possible.
Virtual and No Touch Showings
Many houses that are listed have quite a few photos on websites.
Some have virtual tours and videos of the home on websites. Clients can get a very good idea about the house and literally have a "virtual showing" by looking at these photos, virtual tours, and videos. Many people, even before this Coronavirus pandemic, have purchased homes sight unseen. If sellers are comfortable with having buyers at their homes, the buyer's agent must be diligent in making sure it's a "no touch showing." First, the agent should ensure that no one who is coming to the showing has any symptoms of being ill. Then, people should all wear gloves for showings. They should stay an appropriate distance away from each other while going through the house. The clients should be instructed to not touch anything. The agent should bring disinfectant wipes and wipe down any door knobs or handles that they touch, the lockbox and the key.
This may sound far fetched, but some escrow companies, title companies, and attorneys are scheduling drive-through closings. The clients drive up and are given the original documents to sign. If they need an explanation, they are welcome to have an attorney, escrow company or title company representative on a video call. The documents can be sent to them electronically after the closing.
Sitting at home under quarantine working or not, people are spending a lot more time online. Many brokers and agents are having to adjust digital marketing strategies. Maintaining an online presence is very important during these times. Social Media and Pay Per Click advertising still be utilized to boost brand recognition as well as generate leads when used strategically and with caution.
Flexibility and Extensions
Some real estate professionals and other people involved in real estate transactions are not working right now. This may include home inspectors, appraisers, county office personnel and the like. Flexibility and extensions are the keys to protecting properties that are under contract.
Protecting everyone is of the utmost importance right now. Realtors®, practice your due diligence.