At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic practically three years in the past, real estate agents throughout the nation started getting ready for the worst.
“When COVID first began I assumed we might all be sitting round doing nothing,” Katie French, a Hartford, Connecticut-based Coldwell Banker agent, mentioned. “I assumed it was going to come back to a screeching halt.”
Instead, the precise reverse occurred.
“After perhaps one or two weeks of quiet, hastily the whole lot simply went loopy,” French mentioned. “I can’t say that I’ve ever seen something like that earlier than and I don’t assume we’ll see something prefer it once more.”
As homebuyers and buyers flooded the housing market, spurred on by low cost loans, real estate agents had to determine not solely easy methods to meet this surge in demand, but additionally hold themselves and their shoppers secure and wholesome in a world immediately stuffed with uncertainty.
Real estate agents “needed to change into the eyes and ears of the homebuyers,” Gretchen Pearson, the broker-owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties, mentioned. “They would get on FaceTime and go, ‘Ok, we are pulling into the neighborhood now and that is your neighbor on the suitable and on the left and throughout the road. And that is your walkway.’ Basically taking them via the home step-by-step. In California, for some time patrons had been prohibited from seeing a house till it was in escrow, so we had been doing this for some time.”
Although Pearson mentioned FaceTime and reside video house excursions have largely disappeared, different practices that real estate agents, brokers, and brokerages adopted at the beginning of the pandemic have endured.
In addition to utilizing video conferencing instruments for digital showings, real estate agents and brokerages started utilizing platforms reminiscent of Zoom and Skype to host company-wide conferences and provides pitches to potential shoppers at the beginning of the pandemic. Those practices have remained in place.
“We had been capable of get folks concerned in numerous niches throughout the corporate related via weekly Zooms,” Pearson mentioned. “I began a weekly ‘Hitters Huddle’ and a Zoom name for agents who actually deal with social media. This connectivity of individuals with comparable pursuits actually acquired to scale and the agents acquired totally different insights from folks in different components of the corporate. We are tremendous related now”
According to the National Association of Realtors Adopt to Adapt survey, 22% of the examine’s 3,557 agent and broker-owner respondents famous elevated attendance after the adoption of hybrid conferences, whereas 20% mentioned hybrid conferences have expanded the range and involvement of those that attend.
“Right at first of COVID we had to determine methods to maintain our folks related in a digital atmosphere, so the primary Tuesday of each month I do a company-wide broadcast gross sales assembly,” Andy Camp, the president of Cutler Real Estate, mentioned. “At first it was all digital, however now every of our places of work host watch events. But it provides me the chance to be in entrance of each one in every of our Realtors.”
According to Camp, attendance for the month-to-month gross sales conferences sometimes hovers round 80%-85%, up from 20%-25% pre-pandemic.
Although conferences could look like higher attended, Meghan McCormick, a Northampton, Massachusetts-based Delap Real Estate agent, questions how significant some contributors’ engagement is.
“So many individuals do the conferences with their video and audio off, so are they actually listening?” McCormick questioned. “Sometimes our dealer will ask a query and there can be no reply. People are logging in, however it’s arduous to inform in the event that they are actually paying consideration.”
With extra real estate agents selecting to work remotely and turning to video conferencing instruments, many brokers have determined to reduce or reimagine workplace house. According to NAR, 67% of survey respondents have made changes to their workplace house, with 10% reporting that they not have a brick-and-mortar workplace and 11% have moved to a smaller workplace.
“Since COVID our workplace appears a lot quieter,” McCormick mentioned. “I reside two minutes away, so I’m going in on a regular basis, however I miss that group really feel, as numerous our agents select to do business from home as a result of they reside farther away. Now as a substitute of getting a bunch of personal places of work, we now have opened up the house and have a group desk space so agents who work part-time or in a extra hybrid arrange have a spot to land after they are available in.”
Over at Cutler Real Estate, Camp mentioned he and his agency are nonetheless understanding how finest to reshape and minimize down workplace house after constructing out net portals for a number of totally different departments because the begin of the pandemic.
“We did an training portal and a advertising and marketing portal, which was enormous as a result of our advertising and marketing division may be very broad,” Camp mentioned. “The portal is a hub for everybody to do their design ordering and obtain any digital supplies for social media.”
Camp mentioned the advertising and marketing workforce has remained working in a distant, digital atmosphere. No longer do real estate agents go to a central workplace to have bodily conferences with the advertising and marketing workforce on the central workplace. Meetings are now digital or at agents’ places of work.
According to NAR, 39% of survey respondents adjusted their advertising and marketing technique through the use of new know-how instruments.
For some real estate agents, this has resulted in growing a much bigger social media presence.
“I began making much more video content material and taking among the conversations I’d usually have in particular person with shoppers and making video content material out of them for my social media feed,” McCormick mentioned. “I’ve continued doing video collection for folks to comply with and to teach shoppers they usually have been enormous.”
McCormick through the pandemic additionally turned to Matterport and drone images, each of which she continues to make use of.
“Virtual excursions and Matterport turned enormous as a result of folks didn’t need to bodily go into another person’s house,” McCormick mentioned. “I’ve continued to make use of Matterport excursions and drone footage as a result of it permits folks to get a really feel for the world and the house earlier than they arrive have a look at it in particular person to allow them to see if it may probably be a match for them.”
Overall, NAR reported that 14% of agents and brokers surveyed have elevated the minimal normal on photograph and video advertising and marketing materials because the begin of the pandemic.
For Bianca D’Alessio, a New York-based dealer and workforce chief of The Masters Division at Nest Seekers International, the most important adjustment to the advertising and marketing has been geographical concentrating on.
“We began actually monitoring the place patrons had been transferring to and coming from and we had been seeing patrons coming from the Upper East Side exploring neighborhoods from Downtown all through Brooklyn,” D’Alessio mentioned. “We have actually studied purchaser preferences and it has modified the best way we market as a result of we aren’t simply competing for shoppers in a 5 sq. block radius anymore. We are competing with companies throughout the boroughs and inside each stock sort. Our market is not native.”
D’Alessio mentioned this has led to her agency operating advertising and marketing campaigns exterior of the New York City, Westchester County, Long Island and New Jersey markets, and even partnering with different, out-of-state agents.
In addition to tech instruments for advertising and marketing, agents and brokers adopted tech instruments for general enterprise operations. Adopt to Adapt survey respondents reported that e-documents was essentially the most impactful software that agents and brokers began utilizing through the pandemic that they proceed to make use of, with 44% of respondents selecting this software.
Despite NAR’s survey outcomes, the entire agents and brokers who spoke with RealTraits mentioned they’ve began utilizing e-documents a number of years previous to the onset of the pandemic.
“I’m a DotLoop particular person and I’ve been for nearly my total 10 yr profession,” McCormick mentioned.
However, McCormick mentioned she felt the pandemic helped improve the tempo of adoption of e-documents amongst agents who had been holding out.
“There was a studying curve for lots of people,” she mentioned. “I feel agents had been pressured into it on account of their brokerage and the pandemic. It was a wrestle at first for some, however e-document platforms simply expanded through the pandemic, and I feel it should keep that approach endlessly as a result of it’s so a lot simpler for everybody.”
But whereas agents and brokers acknowledge that many modifications at present in place took place after they did because of the pandemic, they really feel lots of the modifications had been on their approach.
“Being much less depending on paper, utilizing social media, extra video, all of these issues had began to development earlier than the pandemic, however COVID actually accelerated issues and our agents actually jumped on these tendencies,” Camp mentioned. “We have simply had to determine how finest to assist them in these totally different avenues.”