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How real estate agents can market property in the age of COVID-19

The continued impact of the coronavirus including quarantine and social distancing measures has left many Australian businesses thinking about new ways of doing business — and the real estate industry will also need to adjust. In addition to facilitating efficient transactions online, Openn Negotiation has helped us compile some practical tips to keep your property marketing campaigns moving. These tips cover Open homes, Auctions, Office Administration Settlement and more.

With an estimated 115,000 listings on the market (according to CoreLogic), agencies are looking for solutions that allow them to continue to transact property – particularly if consumers are subject to further isolation and quarantine measures which can make the familiar arrangements a challenge. 

Strategies to contain the spread of the virus, such as enforced isolation and public gathering restrictions, have left many agents seeking solutions that will allow them to work with as little disruption as possible.

One of these platforms, Openn Negotiation, provides an online process that does exactly this by allowing vendors and agents to continue to list and negotiate properties under management.

The tool also allows buyers – who may be in enforced or voluntary isolation – to participate in auctions as they normally would, but from their home, office or other chosen location.

Openn Negotiations Managing director Peter Gibbons says, “We’re well-placed to support the industry and help businesses meet their COVID-19 preparedness goals – we can have agents certified via our online learning facility in under two hours.”

Business as usual… but change is coming
McGrath Geelong co-director Will Ainsworth says their team has not experienced any slowdown – yet. 

“We had 48 groups through one property on Saturday then 20 on the Monday and sold it via Openn Negotiation in seven days for $110,000 above our vendors’ expectations,” he said. 

“We always worry about what we can control and never forecast too far into the future and speculate on what might happen. 

“Our vendors need an agent who is positive and who won’t get caught up in the hype of the media.”

Victorian Auctioneering Coach Phil de Fégely says that the most important thing is for agents to provide a safe environment by having sensible processes in place to protect the health of all parties and the community.  

“I have always been a big believer in the traditional auction process and I still am,” de Fégely says.

“Whatever happens at this time, we need to show leadership and confidence to navigate the way through.”

Real estate coach Lee Woodward says agents should be thinking about technological solutions now more than ever. 

“Openn Negotiation is a system developed ahead of its time,” Woodward explains. 

“So many Australians have enjoyed the digital purchasing process and for many vendors, the non-invasive stress of a public auction on your property.”

Tips from the top operators and coaches for marketing in the age of COVID-19
Openn Negotiation CEO Peter Gibbons said they are working with a wide range of industry coaches and trainers to find effective ways of working in the current environment.

“We want to share ideas on how they intend to adapt as things change,” he said.

The new normal – private inspections and staggered appointments
Whether inspections for multiple parties will still continue is questionable with the Australian Government Health Department announcement banning gatherings of more than 100 people. 

One of the ways agents can adapt to these measures is by staggering their home openings – booking additional private inspections throughout the week and limiting numbers through the home, and using available technology.

Real Estate Geelong agent Wes Thornton has implemented this strategy already, as well as requesting parents don’t bring their children to the home open.

“Kids aren’t as at-risk as adults, of course, however they are the biggest carriers of these types of bugs,” he said. 

“I’m also looking to book longer opens as a trial so that I can control how many people go through at any one time.”

Real estate coach Glenn Twiddle says 3D is the way to go.

“Engage a reputable 3D virtual tour company to create an amazing 3D tour for you, there are many companies out there and they all do an amazing job,” he recommends.

“We would also suggest holding ‘closed home opens’ where they are by appointment only or where buyers need to register (like Property Managers do for their home opens).

“Do a lot of live videos to your Facebook page of you at the property promoting the property to your marketplace – then ‘boost’ this live video to your followers.”

Rasmus Nielsen from Mavin Real Estate says he is following the lead of other agents.

“Currently I’m offering hand sanitiser at home opens and minimising physical contact (handshakes) with buyers.

“Over the coming weeks, I’ll be pushing DocuSign a lot more with my buyers and sellers.”

Other agents are getting creative with their smartphones.

Dominika Antalfy from Alliance Real Estate says they are offering Facetime and WhatsApp video appointments to qualified buyers.

“I believe, at the moment only the serious buyers are looking!”

Nic Di Rosso from Ray White Uxcel Morley says, “We have followed advice from Ray White Corp with the new handshake alternatives and added notices to our office door and reception area along with hand sanitiser.  

“We may even decide to keep the office door locked until people arrive, at which point we will direct them to read the notice on the door followed by us opening it for them whilst keeping the required distance.”

Property management
Dee Why agent Lisa Novak says Novak property has always been a highly digital company and this has turned out to be more critical now than ever in both sales and property management.

“We will be doing 360 walk-through tours for prospective tenants using a 360 camera. 

“Open houses can and will be conducted for select tenants requesting such a service, using FaceTime to virtually walk them through a property,” she says.

Marketing and auctions
Brendan Homan from Innova8 property says he is all for making campaigns shorter and specifically uses Openn Negotiation to facilitate this. 

“If the property attracts sufficient interest, I’m able to bring the Final Bidding Stage in my Openn Negotiation forward,” he says. 

“This flexibility the process offers is hugely beneficial for both sellers and buyers.”

Glenn Twiddle says that in today’s digital age, online negotiations such as Openn Negotiation are important no matter what is happening around you.

“This tool should be in your tool kit as an agent at all times,” he says, but reminds that you can’t forget the basics.

“You have a telephone and you have a voice – and while this is probably considered old technology, not enough agents use this simple, cheap and effective method.

“Pick the phone up and start ringing everyone!!”

Contract execution
Peter Clements from Mint Real Estate in Claremont, WA, says all contracts are being executed electronically.

“We’re doing all contracts via DocuSign,” he says.

“If you don’t have an account, get one now – you’ll enjoy the efficiencies it offers your business well beyond COVID-19!”

Contract settlement 
Real estate coach and trainer Tom Panos says contracts don’t allow for coronavirus, so it needs to be addressed. 

“When a property sells, agents should consider a license agreement that allows an individual to remain on-premise for the duration of any enforced isolation period. 

“That would allow settlement to take place.” 

Mindset
“Some of the best gifts in life come badly wrapped,” Panos says.

“This disruption caused by a virus can help agents adapt to work in smarter ways, more efficient ways, like working from home, but there will be marginal agents who will suffer and reconsider their future career.”

Glenn Twiddle advises you to concentrate on being a steadying voice in your market. 

“Don’t take the ‘wait & see’ approach – be proactive and keep communicating with your marketplace!”

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