Change is the Only Constant…
The real estate market is constantly changing, however, the changes that we’ve seen in the last few weeks have been unprecedented. Realtors are constantly thinking of new ways to better serve our clients but COVID-19 has added a new hurdle. We really had to get creative to continue to provide the same service while maintaining the social distancing required by the “stay at home” orders.
Realtors still rely on local social networking events to spread the word about our buyers and sellers needs. Such networking events, or pitch sessions, are face to face weekly breakfast meetings held at several venues throughout the city. Coronado Association of Realtors (CREA) meets every Wednesday in Coronado, South Bay and East county Realtors attend the Pacific Association of Realtors (PSAR) meetings also on Wednesdays, the downtown meetings are held by San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR) on Thursdays. We also use open houses as a marketing tool to expose the properties that we sell. COVID-19 has taken all these marketing tools away from us and it has limited our social interactions.
How Have We Adapted Since COVID-19?
Luckily, the real estate industry has been heading in the right direction in the past couple of years with the majority of the advertising done online. As a computer programer myself, I truly believe that I can reach more buyers by having a good marketing campaign for online distribution along with an outstanding online presence in multiple platforms including social media accounts. But this is not new to my business.
What it is new is the virtual interaction with clients. For instance, when I work with my buyers, instead of meeting face-to-face to discuss their needs, I now conduct a virtual meeting on Zoom or thru FaceTime to review their needs. Further, I will preview homes for them by myself if they are unsure about the property. I also offer an onsite video conference as I walk thru the property and I address any questions they may have. Sometimes this is sufficient for my buyers to write an offer and open escrow. They are able to buy their dream home form the comfort of their own home whether they are in San Diego (or anywhere) because I am their “boots on the ground”.
How Do Purchase Contracts Get Signed?
I use an electronic signing software to collect electronic signatures. All that is needed is an email account.
Preparing a home to sell is a bit more challenging, but is not impossible. My photographers wear protective equipment when they enter my client’s properties and they also certify that they don’t have Covid-19 by signing a property entry advisory disclosure. They capture high definition professional still photos of the home as well as areal drone footage to show the neighborhood. I also like to include a 3D virtual tour of the home with floorpans. One of my favorite additions to my marketing campaign is the ability to virtually stage a home. I can select the type of furniture with the click of a button, and also the colors that I’d like to use. Just like that within 48 hours I am ready to publish my listing with minimal interaction with the seller.
I also protect the seller’s and buyer’s well-being by asking all buyers and Realtors that enter the property to sign the entry advisory disclosure certifying they have not been expose to the virus, as well as provide protective equipment upon entry.
How About Open Houses?
I am still holding open houses but with modifications. I make the property available to buyers during a set time and I offer a live video. Buyers are able to virtually walk around the property with me and ask any questions just as if they were there in person with me. But if a buyer wants to see the property in person, they can come by and enter the property one at the time as long as they sign the entry advisory and wear masks, gloves and boots.
These are challenging times for everyone but I am excited to work for Coronado Shores Co. a broker that supports my business and allows me to adapt to the new environment so I can continue to help families in Coronado and beyond.
By Raquel Fernandez, Realtor