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March 2020 marked a major shift in the way real estate is marketed and sold. When the world was cordoned off indefinitely, house seekers found themselves locked out of potential homes. Open houses were going virtual, and companies like mine, specializing in online real estate marketing, were booming.
For some real estate agents, this has been welcome news. Open shutters meant spending more time with family and less time for small talk with nosy neighbors. For others, especially newer agents who rely on open houses as networking tools, this has meant getting creative in finding prospects. Now that restrictions are being relaxed in some areas, the doors to open houses are slowly opening.
Here are five ways open houses will be different in a post-pandemic world.
1. Seller decision
The salesman is now more than ever in the driver's seat. In the past, brokers almost always called for an open house at the time of listing. That is no longer a matter of course. Tabitha Rourke, broker at Rouse Realty Advisors, says she will make sure that her clients are a bigger part of the decision-making process. Rourke also pointed out that the number of open houses is decreasing and it is not always necessary to keep one.
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2. Compulsory registration
Logging in with a name and phone number has always been a convenient way for agents to track visitors after an open house has ended. While this information was rarely required to tour a home, times have changed. Sign-ins are now often required for contact tracking. Business agents can take advantage of mandatory signups by creating a sheet that allows visitors to tick a “contact us” box. This allows visitors to subscribe to the agency's email list and agree to be contacted by the agent.
3. Serious buyers only
While it's difficult to tell serious buyers from open house tourists, it doesn't hurt to ask. To reduce open house traffic, some agents are asking buyers to research and use online marketing materials before booking an exhibition or attending an open house. For example, sales representative Jessica Montague March adds the following to all of her property descriptions: “In the interests of everyone's safety, please use our video tour, photos, floor plans and maps before booking your visit. Time of social distancing. " Expect such instructions to appear more frequently in order to drive more online traffic.
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4. Greater online presence
Marketing resources like professional real estate photography, videos, 360 degree virtual tours and floor plans weren't fully used by every agent before the pandemic. Now, many sellers expect to be listed with someone who makes a significant digital investment to reduce home traffic. Real estate agent Sarah Middleton says she added an iGUIDE 360 tour and floor plans in March 2020 because it makes her clients, who are mostly seniors, feel safe.
5. Security protocols
Even in a post-pandemic world, prepare for safety protocols being followed when attending an open house. The precautions taken to prevent Covid-19 can also help prevent the spread of other viruses, including the seasonal flu and common cold. A registration form, disinfectant, and mask protocol may be required by local public health or real estate associations. Homeowners can also set these restrictions as a requirement for entry. An open house can be a very personal experience as potential buyers walk through a person's bedroom and open closets and cupboards. Wearing a mask and following safety protocols is a sign of respectful caution towards the private environment.
Professional real estate photography and videography are the best ways to limit traffic during an open house. Every listing requires a stellar online presence, so don't forget to include a video that will act as a movie trailer. Serious buyers are then given a ticket to see it in full. This ticket is a phone call or email to you, the seller, or the listing agent.
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