Around the world, the pandemic forced agents to leverage technology to manage every aspect of their business, from communications to transaction management and property marketing. In addition to keeping agents and clients protected from COVID-19, technology helped agents serve more clients—and be in two places at the same time! In the future, many applications could become commonplace, especially for global agents assisting long-distance clients.
When in-person contact isn’t allowed or desired, which tools will improve your ability to market listings to remote buyers? There are many options, depending on your budget and willingness to appear on camera.
For starters, consider adding floor plans, so buyers better understand how rooms flow and how their furniture might fit in various spaces. (But also be sure to secure proper copyright permissions before uploading any media to a listing.)
Virtual tours that allow visitors to move through a home by clicking on hot spots (as opposed to those so-called virtual tours that only display listing photos in a slide show format) are another valuable tool.
True 3D virtual tours have come a long way toward providing an “in-person” experience. Many vendors can help you produce them, along with floor plans and so-called dollhouse displays.
On the other hand, drone photography helps buyers understand the home’s proximity to other properties and the neighborhood’s appearance. (Be sure to follow all applicable laws and ordinances for drone flights.)
Take a closer look at video too! Many agents avoid recording any video, but it’s one of the best ways to provide buyers a virtual experience while also marketing your services.
If you’re new to video, consider these formats, which are relatively easy to execute:
1. Listing Videos
The good news about listing videos is that they should be short—one to two minutes—and you can limit your appearance to the beginning (introduce yourself and the home) and the end of the tour (a wrap-up message that encourages viewers to contact you).
Let the home speak for itself as you slowly pan across each space. Pause to showcase any standout features, like fixtures or views. Add a pleasant soundtrack (but make sure you have permission to use whatever music you select) and insert text labels for each room.
If your smartphone is relatively new, the camera is more than adequate to record an attractive listing video. You will, however, want to invest in a gimbal to stabilize your images. Prices vary dramatically, from as little as $50 to upwards of $500.
Grab an inexpensive external microphone, too, to improve the quality of your voice.
Of course, it’s essential to get your client’s permission before publishing any videos of their home. Also, ensure you comply with any rules before uploading listing videos into your MLS.
2. Virtual Open Houses
With the onset of the pandemic, virtual open houses emerged as both a necessity and a novelty. If promoted effectively, visitors from across the world will attend them. They deserve a place in your marketing toolkit, even after in-person open houses are allowed again.
Livestream events can be hosted on Facebook Live, Zoom, Periscope, or other live streaming platforms. Promote the event on all your social media channels and include a registration link to capture visitors’ contact information.
Consider repeating your virtual open house several times at the top of each hour or offering a live market tour that features several brokerage listings, back to back.
3. Personal Video Tours
If a buyer asks you to provide a live tour on their behalf, be thorough about showing them all aspects of the home while also following COVID-19 guidelines and the seller’s preferences regarding hands-on contact.
Even though buyers are relying on you to be their proxy, avoid interpreting what you observe and reaching conclusions on their behalf. Subjective questions like, “How is the street noise?” or personal opinions about necessary updates could land you in trouble if they feel you’ve led them astray.
Thoroughly document the home, inside and out, with photos and video, and attempt to answer specific, objective questions. But let buyers reach their own conclusions, working with appropriate inspectors.
Check with your broker and legal counsel about using a “sight unseen” addendum to acknowledge it is the buyer’s responsibility to confirm the property condition and that the property is satisfactory.
Find the Best Technology Solutions
With dozens of offerings to select from, technology decisions can be daunting. Consider starting with companies who have participated in NAR’s REACH technology accelerator to find the best solutions. They have worked closely with leaders in the industry to ensure their products support your role and meet your needs.
REACH is operated by Second City Ventures, NAR’s strategic investment arm. The global REACH accelerator has operations in Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. REACH also operates a Commercial accelerator.
Here is a small sampling of REACH companies that can help you digitize many aspects of property marketing and transaction management.
- biproxi – An end-to-end transaction platform for commercial practitioners biproxi.com
- Box Brownie – Photo editing, floor plan redraws, and virtual staging boxbrownie.com
- DocuSign – Global leader in electronic signatures docusign.com
- Earnnest – Secure, electronic fund transfer platform earnnest.com
- FloorPlanOnline – Virtual showings and floor plan tours floorplanonline.com
- immoviewer – DIY virtual home tours immoviewer.com
- Modus – Title and escrow platform modusclosing.com
- Notarize – Digital notarizations notarize.com
- Propy – End-to-end online real estate transaction management propy.com
- Transactly – Tech-enabled transaction coordination transactly.com
To learn more about the REACH program and other participating companies, visit nar-reach.com. When contacting REACH companies about their offerings, be sure to inquire about any discounts currently being offered to NAR members.