From Your Phone, To Your Home. Technology Is King When Buying Or Selling A Home During The Covid-19 Pandemic
by Paul Ambler
on Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 at 4:50pm.
What a difference a few weeks make! From January to mid March, the Real Estate Industry in the GTA was experienceing bidding wars on hot pocket properties, increasing home prices, renewed enthusiasm from first time home buyers with low interest rates and all the other challenges and excitement that come with a strong Real Estate economy.
March 11th - The NBA cancelled the season and Trump announced travel restrictions on a number of European countries.
March 12th - The NHL announced it would suspend the season. MLB suspends spring training.
March 13th - the WHO announced that Europe was the new epicentre of the pandemic, Canada suspends parliament until April 20th and advises people to stock up on up to two weeks of groceries (apparently lots of toilet paper)
March 14th - The Canadian Government advises against all non-essential travel.
March 16th - Wall Street plunged again, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank by 3,000 points and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down by around 12 percent by the closing bell.
March 17th - Ontario closes: bars, restaurants, schools, libraries, community centres, movie theatres…etc
March 18th - Canada - US border closed to all non-essential travel. The Canadian Govt announces a $27 Billion bailout and declares social distancing measures could be in place for months.
All that in 1 week! Then on March 24th, The Real Estate Industry makes the essential service list so that transactions are permitted to close and business continues, albeit, not as usual.
Can you still sell a home during the covid-19 crisis? Absolutely! without a doubt it will be more challenging but since this pandemic arrived on our doorstep, Our Office (Remax Professionals Inc, Brokerage) & Our Team has had to lean on a number of awesome technologies to assist our clients at both ends of process (buying & selling). The focus of the last few weeks as been to offer our clients a way to still see and feel properties while maintaining that physical distance until its absolutely necessary. Some of the technologies assist with virtual meetings and help us present market evaluations or listing presentations to prospective clients without having to physically meet. Other technologies have taken marketing of a property to new heights with virtual walk throughs where you can essentially walk through a property from your desktop or phone.
Matterport Virtual Walk-Through/3D Virtual Tour
In 2020 Photos set to music are NOT a virtual tour! This is a virtual tour! Its also a safe and convenient alternative to showings & open houses and protects both a seller and a buyer from unnecessary showings. Prospective buyers can walk through a property as if they have walked through the front door.
Click the video below to see one we did for clients late in 2019.
Staging can often account for up to a 3%-6% higher selling price vs a similar un-staged property. In the current covid-19 climate it can be very challenging staging a vacant property. Staging requires movers or staging companies to book elevators and many people in small spaces to get it done. Take a look at the photo below. Did you notice anything? Many people would not even notice that the entire room had been virtually staged. The furniture, the artwork ,the plants & lamps. Everything. We use qualified and high end virtual staging to ensure the virtual staging looks realistic and seamless within the photos to give prospective buyers a sense of the space and what type of furniture might fit. Some vacant spaces speak for themselves for others this is a great tool to help give the photos more warmth and depth of layout.
Virtual Open Houses
Early in April, RECO released updated guidance on open houses & showings. In particular, RECO strongly recommended that brokerages and salespeople follow the direction of health officials by declining to facilitate or participate in open houses, and by limiting showings to where they are absolutely necessary. So what did that mean for people who had to buy or sell their home and were caught in the middle? In many instances it meant turning online to virtual means to expose the property to the market without actually opening the door. Open Houses, bring nosey neighbours yes, but open houses also play an important role to help drive traffic to a property for sale. Often its a neighbour that has a friend, niece or nefew or sibling looking to get into the neighbourhood. During the Covid-19 pandemic open houses are not happening. Virtual Open Houses allow a listing agent to still host an open house without having a large number of people walk through the property. By preparing the virtual open house well in advance through social communication (Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Zoom etc), people can register for the open house and receive an invitation to attend via desktop or phone on the day of the event. The agent who is at the home can walk the registrants through the property, take questions, provide inspections or other related information to the interested people. From here qualified buyers can schedule an in person showing.
While a virtual open house solves the issue of showing the property without technically inviting anyone in, It won't necessarily sell it on its own. The point is to get the home in front as many people as possible and this does just that. Expect to see this phenomenon grow and become more commonplace in the future especially for sellers who don't want open houses when selling.
Zoom certainly isn't new technology but since the entire globe has been asked to stay at home it seems like everyone from Prime Ministers to Presidents, Office Staff & Sales Staff, Doctors, Lawyers, and everyone in between has taken advantage of the video conferencing tool. It has been a great way to limit potentially unnecessary meetings while still being able to maintain a group environment to present information and ideas. Savvy Realtors are no exception. Our office has held daily meetings about our covid -19 policy we have had great collaboration and sharing of ideas that in many ways has seen more engagement then ever before. It has also been a great way to connect with our clients to present listing information, buying information as well as providing a more personal approach to market analysis while still getting that face to face time that the Real Estate industry still depends on.
Real Estate Documents - Purchase Offers, Listing Agreements All Completed Via Docusign & Authensign - No Need To Sign In Person
Electronic signatures are not new but processing documents electronically has never been more critical for the survival of the Real Estate Market. This should be a basic function of any Realtor these days. We can process any form of documentation relating to the purchase, sale or lease of your property via electronic signature. Of course at some point there will likely need to be a face to face meeting but it is far more efficient these days to do so electronically, especially when we are being asked to self isolate, physically distance, work from home etc. This is also a crucial time saver for everyone involved while at the same time allowing everyone to function remotely from anywhere in the world.
Make sure you ask your Realtor what technology they are using to help market your property. The future has been thrust upon us over the last few weeks and we should expect that much of the technology we have been using today to help buy and sell homes will only grow more important in the coming months and years. Eventually we will go back to some type of new normal but expect many great things to come of this experience that will impact all industries in different ways.
For more information on the technologies we are using to help buy and sell homes, or to schedule a virtual listing presentation or market evaluation please reach out to me anytime at email@example.com or 416.884.8027.