Selling Real Estate, Virtually

Laura Kelly Mance
President, Long Realty

 

Well, I have to confess that sometimes it takes a kick in the pants to get you to learn something new. Yes, we can now sell real estate virtually. Thank goodness we had a head start with electronic contract signing, contract management programs like Skyslope, and secure online loan applications! Transaction desk is looking better every day. Who knew that an agent could get 150 people to visit a Virtual Open House and another 300 to view it later? And the agent didn’t even have to risk their life putting up signs! Who knew that a home inspector could use FaceTime live to do the inspection synopsis with the buyers and agents from multiple locations and states?

Here are the basics of a virtual home purchase.

  • Zoom conference with the Buyer to discuss agency, disclosures, the Purchase Contract they will eventually be using, and what their needs are.
  • Set up a search or perhaps multiple searches for your Buyer so they’re notified as soon as a property comes on the market.
  • Share your app with them so they can check price and features of all listings as they move about town in areas that interest Stay at home doesn’t mean you can’t go out for a drive, right?
  • Get the Buyer pre-qualified for financing, and pre-approved while you’re at it.
  • Your Buyer can narrow down the field of properties by reading the descriptions, viewing photos and the videos that are becoming so prevalent now.
  • In-person showings can be done if they comply with Sellers wishes and CDC showing Everyone gets to drive their own car.
  • After showings, set up a Zoom call to discuss the Buyers It might be time to tweak their search a bit.
  • Once the property is identified, make a personal call to the listing agent to get an idea of the Sellers motivations and interests in terms of closing and any other Create the offer in Transaction Desk.
  • Once accepted, escrow can be opened electronically and the earnest money can be wired.
  • Find a home inspector who is willing to abide by CDC protocol and who has developed a strategy for reporting that satisfies your Buyer.
  • Until it becomes time for the walk through, the escrow doesn’t require in-person contact, and that can be done while keeping appropriate physical distance.
  • Drive through closings or mobile notary closings can be done efficiently and safely.
  • Sanitize those keys and your virtual transaction is complete.

In the case of a listing, you’ll need to add a virtual tour to your marketing plan and have some fun with a virtual open house. As I said earlier, when properly promoted, you’ll be amazed by how many people join you. You’ll see far more faces virtually than with a typical open house. When scheduling repairs, if any, have your trades come to the house at different times. It requires more schedule juggling but it’s necessary.

Some people worry that Sellers and Buyers will question our value if they don’t see us in person as much. That will be up to how you present your services. Doing an electronic contract doesn’t mean that you don’t review it with your client. Having an open house attended by 400 people virtually shouldn’t disappoint a Seller who was hoping for 3 or 4 personally. If your communication is consistent, thorough, and contemporary, your clients should be impressed by the process, not disappointed.

Want to enhance your virtual practice? Start by viewing virtual tours and open houses done by others and decide what approach you want to take. Are you going to buy the mic, grapple, and camera yourself, or hire someone else to do it? Look for how-to webinars on using Facebook Live (it really has the best reach) for your Open House. Get a Zoom account so your conversations with your clients can include video and make them more personal. Learn to screen share so you can review disclosures and forms together.

Take advantage of the plethora of education and information out there today competing to attract our attention and curiosity. In over 30 years in the business, I’ve never seen trends in our practice reverse. Regardless of how it got here, virtual is here to stay.