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March 2020 marked a major change in the way real estate is marketed and sold. While the world was locked away indefinitely, house hunters found themselves excluded from potential homes. Open houses have gone virtual and businesses like mine specializing in online real estate marketing have seen their activity increase.
This was good news for some real estate agents. Closed open doors meant spending more time with family and less time chatting with curious neighbors. For others, especially the newer agents who rely on open houses as a networking tool, it meant getting creative in finding potential clients. Now, as restrictions ease in some areas, the doors to open houses are slowly starting to unlock.
Here are five ways open doors will be different in a post-pandemic world.
1. Seller’s decision
More than ever, the seller is now in charge. Previously, agents almost always encouraged an open house at the time of registration. Now, this is no longer a given. Tabitha Rourke, Chartered Broker at Rouse Realty Advisors, says she will ensure her clients are more involved in the decision-making process. Rourke also indicated that the number of open houses is decreasing and that it is not always necessary to organize one.
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2. Mandatory login
Logging in with a name and phone number has always been a convenient way for agents to track visitors after the end of an open house. While this information was rarely required to visit a home, times have changed. Connections are now generally required for contact tracing. Enterprising agents can take advantage of mandatory logins by creating a sheet that allows visitors to check a “contact” box. This way, visitors can subscribe to the agency’s mailing list and agree to be contacted by the agent along the way.
3. Serious buyers only
While it’s hard to tell serious shoppers from open house tourists, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In an effort to reduce open house traffic, some agents ask buyers to research and take advantage of online marketing materials before booking a session or attending an open house. For example, sales rep Jessica Montague March adds the following to all of her property descriptions: âIn the interest of everyone’s safety, before you book your tour, please enjoy our video tour, photos, our floor plans and mapping, during this time of social distancing. “ Expect such instructions to appear more frequently in an attempt to generate more traffic online.
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4. Greater online presence
Marketing assets like professional real estate photography, videos, 360 virtual tours, and floor plans were not fully utilized by all agents before the pandemic. Now, many sellers expect to sign up with someone who makes a significant digital investment in order to reduce home traffic. Real estate broker 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, be prepared to adhere to safety protocols when you attend an open house. The precautions in place to prevent Covid-19 can also help prevent the spread of other viruses, including seasonal flu and the common cold. A registration form, a disinfectant protocol and a mask may be made compulsory by local public health or real estate associations. Homeowners can also put these restrictions in place as a condition of entry. An open house can be a very personal experience, as potential buyers walk through someone’s bedroom and open wardrobes and closets. Wearing a mask and respecting security protocols are a sign of prudence that respects one’s private environment.
Professional real estate photography and videography are the best ways to limit traffic on an open house. Every ad requires a great online presence, so be sure to include a video that serves as a movie trailer. Serious buyers will then receive a ticket to view it in its entirety. This ticket is a call or email to you, the seller or the listing agent.
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