As a real estate professional, your job is to provide guidance and expertise. And in uncertain times, your clients look to you more than ever. Understanding the shifting psychological climate is key as businesses reopen their doors and we all venture out into unprecedented territory.
States are lifting restrictions, and people are cautiously phasing toward some degree of normalcy. We can’t help but feel a glimmer of hope — especially as summertime rolls in and we start seeing friends and family who, for the last three months, have existed largely on a device screen.
Still, uncertainties loom. How will the virus respond as society re-engages? Will the economy rebound in a U, a V or a W shape? How do we tread lightly between a return to life and a commitment to public safety?
It’s a delicate balance of optimism and apprehension. And everyone’s different: Some will march headfirst into a reintegrated society while others will tiptoe. But regardless of our speed and gusto, most of us seem to agree on a couple of basic things. First, it will take some time to adjust to this new normal. Second, the home is more important than ever since we are all spending so much more time there.
All of this impacts the real estate market, from buying and selling habits to location booms to business protocols and contractual provisions. Here are five tips to keep your real estate practice thriving as we navigate through this gray area between lockdown and business as usual.
1. Air on the virtual side.
Restrictions are easing, but it’s best to proceed with caution. Even if limited open houses are permitted, not everyone will be comfortable touring a 2,000-square-foot home with strangers — no matter how much distance is between them.
Until they say otherwise, assume your clients prefer virtual tours or private appointment showings. They may be in a higher-risk demographic, and you don’t want to put them in the position of having to disclose that. Be empathetic, respect their anxieties and gain their trust.
2. Stay informed!
It’s a no-brainer, but a reminder still doesn’t hurt. New information is emerging daily, including many things that directly impact the real estate industry. From interest rates to economic relief forecasting to home-buying programs, there are a lot of financial incentives emerging to making home-buying easier.
Additionally, COVID-related provisions and addenda are being written into contracts and offers. Expect these to be commonplace for the foreseeable future, and find a trusted resource that can keep you informed of any other new trends or practices that could benefit your clients.
3. Leverage home warranties.
Unfortunately, one of the residual effects of social distancing and quarantines is that inspections and appraisals may not be quite as thorough. There’s no reason to instill any doubt in your clients’ minds, but with inspectors exercising more caution over what they touch, the margin for overlooking something has increased.
A home warranty is a perfect solution to protect against the chance of a missed detail, and it provides some extra peace of mind in these uncertain times. The last thing anyone wants to worry about right now is how to deal with a broken appliance or system at home.
4. Recognize the new importance of home office spaces.
COVID-19 is changing a lot about our lives, and it will continue to have an impact long after its threat subsides. Some markets are experiencing suburban booms — even among young or first-time buyers who might otherwise want to be closer to the city. Most of it has to do with three key letters: WFH.
The idea of full or partial work-from-home capabilities has been gaining traction over the last five years, and COVID has caused the movement to explode. This changes the real estate game drastically, as commutes will not play as big of a role in choosing locations. Furthermore, a nice home office space will be as necessary as that second full bathroom or lower-level TV room.
5. Be sensitive — but also bold.
All things considered, the market is strong — for buyers and sellers. People who planned to buy in the next year or two are feeling greater urgency to take advantage of low interest rates and competitive prices. They also might feel less secure at work, compelling them to get a mortgage sooner rather than later. Sellers are experiencing similar pressures, wanting to sell for fear the market goes soft this fall or winter.
Bottom line: It’s a good time to buy or sell a home. However, as you know, it’s a big decision that always comes with calculated risk, so if you can toe the line between advocate and confidant, there’s no reason your clients and business can’t thrive in these unprecedented times.