By Jon Paul Miller
As Realtors, our livelihood is face-to-face which presents some interesting challenges during this time (to say the least). Here in Pennsylvania our governor has issued an order that all non-life sustaining businesses close. This includes brokerage offices and many of the businesses that we partner with in our day-to-day operations including appraisers, photographers, home inspectors, contractors, and others. Movers, I’ve just been told, have an exemption as they fall under the trucking industry category.
The good news is that insurance companies here in PA have recently been exempted so title companies are now allowed to operate. This is good news for clients who have a closing scheduled already. However, we still need to maintain social distancing when it comes to our closings which have to be in-person here in PA.
If you’re in another part of the country that hasn’t seen business closures then it’s a good time to prepare yourself in case it happens where you are, too. Here, we can’t go to a potential clients home for a listing presentation or photos. We can’t do open houses. We can’t do showings. Our businesses have effectively ground to a halt for the time being. But, there are things that we can do as Realtors to help our communities and to keep in touch with our clients and sphere of influence without being face-to-face.
Here’s a list of things that I’ve been doing that you can do, too . . .
Call Your Current Clients Often
Your clients need to know what’s going on as soon as things develop and new information comes out. If they have a home under contract and appraisers or title companies can’t operate, they need to know about it now. You may not have the answer but they need to know that you’re thinking about them and working on it. Don’t interpret contracts and act as an attorney if there are questions, refer them to a qualified attorney if they need to know about how to cancel contracts or if dates can’t be met.
Call Your Potential Clients Often
Do you have customers and clients who have been looking for homes or getting their homes ready for the market? Call them with the latest info. They’ll need to know how showings have changed and how you’ll handle their future transaction. In PA, we now have an addendum to the sales contract to help navigate issues related to the Coronavirus. If your state or broker has something similar, share it with your future clients.One thing that that I’ve found helpful is discussing how home values may change. We don’t know exactly what will happen but there’s going to be a lot of people who no longer feel secure about their jobs. It’s best not to speculate on home values, of course, since we don’t have crystal balls. What we can explain is that sales prices that we see today are for agreements that were made a month or two ago. Let people know that there’s a lag time for information and that means that we don’t really know the impact on home values at this point.
Call Your Sphere of Influence & Past Clients
I’ve been calling my sphere of influence and past clients and you can, too. It’s really easy right now because all you have to do is ask how they’re doing. It’s not a sales call. It’s not asking for business. It’s just letting them know that you care and are thinking of them. People want to talk. For the most part, I started with past clients who are in the medical field. They’re tired. They’re stressed. One has symptoms of Covid-19 and is awaiting test results. It’s been very helpful to them to hear a friendly voice.
Connect with Your Neighborhood
Do you have a neighborhood Facebook group? If not, now’s a good time to start one. You can be a resource for your community while also getting your name out there so that you’re positioned as the neighborhood Realtor when things bounce back. You can create and share lists of local businesses that are open like restaurants who offer take-out and need community support. You can share some of. your favorite neighborhood activities where people can still practice appropriate social distancing. You can post information about ways to keep kids entertained when they can’t play with each other.It can also be appropriate to let your neighborhood know what’s going on with real estate in the neighborhood. I’ve written posts on a website I built for my community and my general real estate website that talk about real estate and the Coronavirus. I’ve gotten excellent feedback and it feels good knowing that I’m keeping people informed.
Position Yourself for Future Business
Creating content is critical to your future business. Now is the time to position yourself as the expert in your community and among your sphere of influence. Build out your website with community information like places to go and things to do. Build a website to capture email addresses so that you can develop a list of people who want to hear from you. Organize your contacts so you can stay in touch with people. Develop your social media presence to remain, or become, a resource. Things will bounce back and you should be ready for when that time comes.
Most importantly, please stay safe and follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and dealing with this crisis.
If you have questions or comments, please share them!