Good Investments Prepare You for Disruption
Hoby Hanna, President of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, brings his passion and insights to the REAL with MoxiWorks podcast discussing how we can turn fear into action. This episode highlights the value of investing in your technology stack to be prepared for any sort of disruption (not just COVID-19), and why it’s important to streamline processes in a legacy industry and at a legacy company.
Earning an income from the comfort of your couch sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? I personally have friends who have applied for remote-only positions, hoping to get the opportunity to do that very thing. Ask any of my real estate friends why they chose a career in real estate, and almost all of them will likely tell you they wanted to obtain a flexible schedule and they wanted the ability to work from home. What they quickly find out, though, is that the job requires them to be out and about more often than they originally anticipated due to meet and greets, buyer tours, listing appointments, staging days, open houses, and a plethora of other things that require them to be customer facing all the time.
So… what happens when working from home is no longer a luxurious option, but a requirement mandated by our government? What happens when real estate agents and brokers aren’t deemed as essential, so they are told to stop working immediately to slow the risk of COVID-19? Here are seven tips and tricks to real estate from home, for real.
Tip #1: Use Video Communication
With stay-at-home orders in place across our nation, it is now more important than ever that you and your team familiarize yourselves with video communication sources such as Facetime, Facebook video, or GoogleDuo. Being able to continue to meet your clients “face to face” will help them feel more comfortable with the idea of having you as an agent because not only will they be able to put a face to the name, but video communication gives a more personal feel than a basic email. For those of you who are using MoxiPresent, did you know that you can embed video elements into your created presentations? Try adding rich media to your bio or neighborhood news and see what kind of response you get!
Tip #2: Virtual tours & video walkthroughs
The housing market has been affected by COVID-19 as a result of a variety of factors, but more so because buyers are scared of meeting their agents at a home for a tour due to the risk of potential spread of COVID-19. How do you show them a home without actually being there to open the door for them? Easy! Matterport, Zillow, and other 3rd party sources now offer you a way to create a 3D tour for your buyers. You can also use your cell phone to record a walkthrough of the property to give the customer a realistic sense of how the home feels. Both of these avenues allow your buyer to see the home, while still being able to social distance. You can then easily embed videos or create your own buyer tour within MoxiPresent.
Tip #3: Stick to individual home showings
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people don’t have gatherings of six people or more to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Instead of hosting a large open house for potential buyers, try video communication (tip #1) or virtual tours (tip #2) to help. Some states consider real estate to be an essential business, while others don’t, which means you may or may not be able to conduct in-person showings. If your buyer is determined to see the property in person, don’t feel obligated to risk your health to show them a house this week. Try to reschedule as best as possible. That being said, if you decide to, you can schedule a time to do an individual showing. Just remember to keep your distance and take the necessary precautions to keep you, and your clients safe.
Tip #4: Your CRM is your friend
Regardless of whether or not you are working from home or in an office, one of the biggest mistakes that an agent/broker can make is forgetting about their CRM. For those of you who don’t know what that is, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager, which is a fancy term for a software system that allows you to manage client relationships and track data. We’ve seen first-hand how MoxiEngage helps real estate professionals stay organized even in the midst of all this chaos. Since it’s designed specifically for real estate, it allows agents to follow their sales flow and communication cadences set for each client in order to stay engaged with their sphere and maintain productivity, even in times of uncertainty. It’s all about keeping your book of business organized and to help fill your pipeline.
Tip #5: Visual and Online Marketing
As we know, leaving the house isn’t really an option these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sellers are wondering if putting their house on the market is even a good idea if nobody will be able to see it. As an agent, it is your job to guide them in the right direction and help them understand there are other ways people can see the home. Marketing that home in ways that can highlight the property visually, is key. For example, MoxiWorks provides you with marketing materials that you can use the moment your listing hits the market. These materials are focused on providing real time property data and are highly visual, creating an engaging experience for recipients. If your buyer is more traditional, feel free to print out the PDF and send them a flyer. If your clientele is younger and more tech savvy, leverage email templates and pre-populated posts for different social media platforms to ensure maximized exposure.
Tip #6: Utilize your Seller
Most of us are stuck in our houses with kids, pets, and chaos, so finding a time where your seller is not home is very unlikely right now. Instead of hiring a staging company or scheduling a time where the owners can take a walk with their dog so you can show the property, use your seller and their “free time” to your advantage. Ask them to capture videos of certain rooms for you. I’m sure they would be happy to help if it allows them to sell quicker!
Tip #7: Provide a personal touch
Have you ever walked through a store in the mall, just to browse and get a feel of what was there, or to waste time while you’re waiting for your watch to be engraved? Most of the time we get that sales associate who comes up, asking if we are searching for something specific and won’t leave us alone, even though we tell them we’re “just looking.” As consumers, we don’t like to be sold, especially in times of uncertainty. Reach out to your prospects and clients with a simple goal: To ensure they are safe and healthy, and to let them know you’re thinking of them and wishing them the best. Too many people want to force a sale, not enough of them want to take the time to connect on a human level. Don’t forget that sometimes just a simple smile or hello can go a long way.
Jeff Detwiler, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Long & Foster Companies joins York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks for Episode 12 of REAL with MoxiWorks. The two discuss advice for leaders during times of crisis, how to adapt your communication, and how we can all learn from this moving forward. Jeff shares his thoughts on how to help your agents (and you) avoid fatigue as we work through what he has designated the three phases of this crisis – the deterioration, trough and recovery phases. Jeff gives leaders advice on how to take care of themselves and shares why it’s critical that we keep our agents working both for your business and the economy as a whole.
Real estate leaders, what do we do now?
It’s a wave we have to ride out, but we don’t have to do it alone. Every industry is being driven into mass-tech-adoption at a rapid speed due to social distancing and isolation. Real estate is no exception, but the key difference is we’re already able to handle this.
I had the pleasure of wrapping up the LeadingRE Annual Conference in Las Vegas last week with a presentation on why every real estate brokerage is a tech-enabled brokerage — a claim that some companies are trying to use as differentiation and value-position to compete for talent. But honestly, do you have a cell phone, perhaps you’re even reading this article on your phone right now? You, as a human, are tech-enabled and therefore so is your business.
And if you’re tech-enabled, you’re also a virtual brokerage. Perhaps you won’t want to operate as a virtual brokerage forever, but you are capable of pivoting temporarily to best serve your agents and their clients. Fear in the face of disruption can cause us to fall back into old habits, ruts of non-productivity, or drive us to seek control in the minutia around us.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
– Marie Curie
A strong woman with wise words, Marie Curie’s quote can remind us that by focusing on the truth we will get through this and recover. As I always say, data tells the truth and data sets you free. In this article, I want to focus on a quick look at our industry’s economic history, what industry leaders need to be doing right now, and my 3 B’s for the time-being: Be Optimistic, Be Supportive, Be Productive.
Going Virtual Brings Us Together
On a ship over rough water, a captain can’t stay silent. At no point during this situation is it possible for brokers to over-communicate with their agents. No one has all the answers but talking it through always helps build confidence and trust.
Everyone is leaning into video communication. We still get to see each other’s smiling faces while preserving our goal of safety. Brokers, leaders, reach out to your sphere with one-on-one video calls. It’s 2020, we’re all capable of having a video chat, and it bridges one more gap that a standard phone call can’t provide. We’re telling agents to keep in contact with their clients, their sphere, their community. Practice what you preach, right? Call your agents, call your staff, call your partners.
Remote work employees have been facing the hurdle of building camaraderie without physical closeness in the workplace for years. At MoxiWorks, we have moxians and partners across the country bridging the gap. Now, we all have gotten a taste of that world — sitting in your house trying to have a meeting as the dog howls at a bird or your children forget their inside voices. The silver lining is this gives us all an opportunity to be sympathetic and supportive of each other.
We’re living this at MoxiWorks for several weeks now, with the entire company working remotely without any service interruption. We have the obvious advantage of being a technology company which helps, but we face the same cultural challenges that you. That’s why I’m saying that over-communication is so important. It’s human nature to fill in a void with the worst possible scenario and without communication, that’s exactly what your stakeholders will do. Don’t let there be a communication void – fill it with honest, transparent, supportive but optimistic communication. It’s not about having all the answers because none of us have them right now, it’s about being present as a leader.
Real Estate’s Response in Bear Markets
While the United States hasn’t entered a bear market due to viral outbreak before, it can be comforting to look at how we’ve bounced back from drops in the past. The good news? Event-driven drops (like our current situation around COVID-19) in the market are typically acute and recover much faster than structural drops (think 2007 Great Recession).
Goldman Sachs sent out a report on looking at severe declines, length in a down market, and time to recover/stabilize.
Make no mistake, this is an unprecedented time in history for everyone, but this is a storm we can weather in the real estate industry. MoxiWorks is proud to work with the strongest partners and clients, companies that survived through the housing bubble bursting and are going to pivot, survive and thrive again.
Real Estate Leaders, here’s what we do.
With that said, this isn’t a time to sit still. This is the time to link arms and lift each other up. In our MoxiWorks Town Hall we held virtually this week, I told all of our moxians: Be Optimistic, Be Supportive, and Be Productive. I’ll give you that very same advice.
- Be optimistic that local markets will bounce back, that your pipeline clients will still be ready when bans and restrictions lift. Be optimistic that your agents are solvent and with time, will help your business flourish again.
- Be supportive of each other, we are all humans in this together. Everyone needs time to reflect, to understand, to acclimate — but the speed we are moving at is going to be fast, so we need to help each other. This is a great time for fostering collaboration.
- Be productive no matter what. Give yourself a few seconds to catch your breath, then get back to work. Work on your sphere, evaluate your data, clean up your business and keep moving forward. We’ve got this. We’ve got moxie.
Competition, new players, technology — every disruptor you’ve faced before has trained you for this whether you knew it or not. Don’t let fear bring you to a crushing halt. Business has always been about inertia: an object in motion stays in motion. Like Marie Curie said, now is the time to learn more so we can fear less.
Let’s do this together,
P.S. On that note, at Moxi we’re going to go above-and-beyond to bring continued content for our clients and the industry. We’re kicking this content release off with a guide on how to host an ‘open house’ virtually using our MoxiPresent / M Present product. Check it out.