COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the global economy, and American real estate markets are no exception.
While the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has deemed real estate to be an essential service, state and local governments have the power to limit the activities that can be performed by real estate professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania, for example, has determined that real estate is not a “life-sustaining” activity, therefore real estate agents and brokers in the state are legally prohibited from conducting businesses face-to-face or going into the office.
Even in states that permit agents to conduct business in-person as needed, there are strict local rules in place, including:
Keeping a distance of at least six feet from other people
Wearing face masks
Not allowing more than one family to tour a property at a given time
While the situation is changing day-to-day, it appears real estate brokers will be impacted for some time, particularly if another wave of the virus hits in the fall of 2020 as some medical experts are predicting.
There is also the very real possibility that the pandemic has already launched a recession, which will impact real estate brokers for even longer. In some good news on that front, however, economists are optimistic that the coronavirus recession will not hit the housing market as hard as the Great Recession of 2008.
The fact remains, COVID-19 is changing the way real estate brokers do business. Here are a few ways brokers are adapting to the COVID-19 era.
Digital Lead Generation
With fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction via networking, open houses, door knocking and local events, brokers are moving more of their lead-generation efforts online. Digital lead generation includes social media posts, blogging, and direct online ad campaigns. With PropStream’s built-in marketing tools, you can deploy inexpensive online ads quickly and easily to keep your marketing efforts moving.
Social Distance Marketing
In addition to digital lead generation, today’s brokers are finding ways to market homes for sale with social distancing in mind.
On March 23, 2020, Redfin reported a 500% surge in the request for video home tours in a single week. Video tours, 3D photos, and virtual tours are all on the rise. Brokers are also promoting listings through online ad campaigns, direct mailers and property-specific landing pages, all of which can be automated using PropStream's built-in marketing tools.
E-Closings via Remote Online Notaries
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, only around half of U.S. states allowed notaries to be done remotely. But as of March 31, 2020, an additional 17 states issued emergency orders to allow remote online notaries so real estate transactions could close. While these states can return to in-person notaries once the emergency has passed, many states will likely adopt these changes permanently in the name of efficiency.
Preparing for a New Era
Although the COVID-19 crisis is certainly leaving a trail of economic destruction in its wake, this is a chance for the brokers who are willing to adapt to these ever-evolving circumstances. As Dustin Brohm, real estate marketing and lead generation coach, said in an interview with HousingWire:
"This is such an opportunity to grow your online presence while so many competitors are pushing pause, playing defense or stopping altogether. It’s also a perfect time to learn a new skill or marketing strategy, finally launch that podcast or YouTube channel, and reconnect with past clients from a position of helpfulness and caring."
It remains to be seen how the pandemic will play out for real estate. Smart brokers, however, won't sit around to wait and see what happens.