The challenges of the past year-and-a-half have had a devastating impact on many industries, forcing some professionals to rethink the way they do business.
Due to restrictions imposed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, millions of Americans have been confined to working from home, while others have lost their jobs altogether. According to a Sept. 2020 survey from Pew Research Center (PRC), 25 per cent of U.S. adults reported someone in their household being laid off due to the pandemic. In March 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released a survey indicating that 36.9 per cent of those surveyed had switched to working from home.
In part because of the shifting needs of homeowners during the pandemic, the real estate industry has survived relatively unscathed. According to a March 2021 survey from PRC, the number of homeowners in the United States has increased by 1.6 M since the first quarter of 2020, boosting the homeownership rate by 0.7 per cent.
The fact that the housing market remained relatively stable throughout the early months of the pandemic was a blessing for realtors and homeowners alike. However, the success of real estate in the face of a global crisis didn’t come without its own challenges. Realtors have had to adapt to a rapid metamorphosis of their industry, constantly thinking of new ways to do business during an unprecedented time in home-buying.
Navigating the “new normal”
The COVID-19 pandemic awakened a revolution in employment, with countless workers having to adapt to new restrictions impacting social interaction and everyday life.
The shift from in-person to at-home work has represented a significant lifestyle change for many homeowners. Couples, families, and roommates can no longer find reprieve from one another with many of their daily activities and responsibilities now taking place in the home. As much as we care for those we live with, the prospect of being confined to a single space with these people twenty-four-seven is about as desirable as a fifth wave.
That’s why so many people have chosen to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates to upgrade their homes. As the family-home has become the epicenter of our lives, space has also become a major asset. Homeowners have opted for features that embrace privacy and provide functionality, such as open-concept floor plans, SmartHome systems, and home offices.
As the nation attempts to navigate this new normal, the challenge for realtors is adjusting to the evolving needs and desires of their clients. Agents make it their business to be one step ahead of the game by keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in home comfort, technology, sustainability, and security.
Real estate agents have relied on social media for years to help promote their listings, but the pandemic has turned the internet into the most vital tool in an agent’s arsenal.
Instagram, Facebook, and Periscope all have live video or story features which provide realtors a platform for free advertisement and to expand their network. Live comment forums and personal messaging allow agents to field questions from potential buyers quickly and efficiently. Instant access to photos and videos of a listing provides buyers with an opportunity to inspect a property and compare different listings.
This format is a convenient, easy, and safe way to imitate the feel of an open-house while taking necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and is now more popularly practiced than the in-person alternative.
Video-chat has, by necessity, become the most common form of communication next to a simple phone call or text message.
However, unlike when you’re talking on the phone or by text, video-chat has the ability to make you feel like you’re actually in the room with the person you’re talking to — almost. That’s why most showings are now taking place virtually via Facebook or Instagram Live, Zoom, and even FaceTime. Even prior to the pandemic, video-chat was revolutionizing the way many industries did business.
Realtors are known for levying their charm and charisma to attract potential clients — traits which can be difficult to convey over the phone or by email. But an agent-guided tour by live video can be a money and time saver for both the agent and the client.
In fact, many agents have seen more success through this rising format, as it reduces the time spent with each individual prospect. Agents can even create comprehensive online viewings using 3D video tours and 3D floor plans.
Working from home
Like in countless other industries, much of a real estate agent’s work now takes place from their home. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
Realtors are successful in part because they know their community like the back of their hand — as well as the people in it. Agents spend much of their time networking with other industry professionals, entrepreneurs, contractors, and community leaders. Although it’s possible to create a large, effective network online, it can lack the human touch of networking in person.
That’s why realtors have had to pay more attention to their brand than ever. As crucial as social media has been for the advertisement of listings, it has also been exceptionally important for promoting an agent’s personal brand. Realtors have used social media such as Instagram and Facebook to not only increase brand awareness, but to allow clients to see them as people.
By posting weekly blogs, pictures of clients celebrating a happy ending, and testimonials to their feed, an agent can communicate their professional assets to potential clients while also advertising their business in a subtle, free way.
Although many professionals may not have anticipated a digital revolution taking over their workplaces this soon, the benefits to conducting business online may help reserve a permanent place in society for the “new normal.” Trends such as working from home, hosting meetings on video-chat, and shopping for houses on social media may be here to stay. Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: you deserve a home that fits all your changing needs, and a real estate professional who will stop at nothing to find it.