Every year in March and April, thousands of determined home buyers inspect real estate properties.
This year, that’s not the case. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked the real estate home sales to a 29-year low, a crash never seen since 1991.
The number of newly-listed properties witnessed a 34% drop in the last weeks of March when compared to 2019. Many realtors have reported that they are sensing a plunge in buyer confidence as a result of the virus spreading rapidly.
Additionally, a recent analysis by LendingTree showed that the popularity in a web search of terms related to “home for sale” has fallen in 50 metro cities of the US. They estimate it might drop to even 63% compared to last year. A drop in web searches means people are backing out from buying homes. Even live open house tours were also halted because of strict social distancing rules.
To drive sales and keep buyers constantly engaged, real estate brokers (including Redfin and Re/Max) changed their open house tours into virtual home tours. Realtors are now relying on technology to fulfill the needs of young buyers.
Realtors provide detailed property listing information with high-quality photos and following up on buyers with video chats. These realtors are fighting against this crisis by taking a digital approach to creating a niche audience whom they can retarget post-pandemic.
Real estate agencies have to keep in mind that consumer behavior in the real estate market will change inevitably in the future. But that doesn’t mean they cannot build strategies that can suit and engage customers in the current situation.
Here are some of the best lead engagement strategies that realtors can use in the COVID-19 pandemic:
Build a database
For realtors, consumer data is important to function. Data analytics helps them make better decisions and channelize their strategies in a particular direction.
Through this data, they aim to provide a rich customer experience to home buyers. It also becomes crucial for realtors to provide excellent customer service as they have lesser leads than usual.
To stay on the top, realtors need to respond quickly to client’s needs, anticipate trends, promote specific content, and eventually convert them into leads.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software packages all business requirements into one platform.
In 2019, 74% of businesses reported that using CRM software has improved their access to customer data! A realtor can manage leads, track lead generation campaigns, manage contacts, manage calendars using CRM software.
To collect this data, CRMs generate QR codes that link to realtors’ customized pages. Realtors can generate different types of QR codes and export them into offline and online mediums. A realtor can affix these QR codes on print ads, brochures, business cards, PPC ad landing pages, direct mailers, and more.
A recent study showed that clients and homebuyers are engaging relatively higher through emails during this COVID-19 pandemic. Non-transactional emails that acknowledge the situation are producing a 34% increase in open rates.
You can connect to your home buyers through various emails, such as:
- Share useful house maintenance tips to build client trust
- Connect with different neighborhoods by sharing important local news
- Sharing a guide to help them understand financing their homes
- Also, keep updating them with real estate marketing trends
Transitioning to virtual solutions
Social distancing throughout the US is causing real estate agents to rely highly on technology. Zillow, a top real estate agency, observed that in March the number of 3D home tours has increased to 188% when compared to February. To add on, property listings that had 3D home tours got 50% more site visitors than the usual ones.
ERA Real Estate, a New Jersey-based real estate agency, has launched a new mobile application that is made to give prospective homebuyers a way to see a property without having to set foot inside of it. Using the smartphone’s camera, buyers scan a QR code and an app constructs a virtual representation of the interior of a home. App users will be able to take virtual tours through the property and will even be able to change the colors of the walls and rearrange some of the furniture within the house.
In another instance, RE/MAX real estate agents have invested in high-end software such as Matterport 3D tours. Matterport is an all-in-one 3D data platform that lets you turn a space into an accurate and immersive digital twin. With a single QR code scan, you can automatically create 3D walkthroughs, 4K print quality photos, schematic floor plans, OBJ files, point clouds, videos, and other media.
RE/MAX used Matterport 3D tours in their property listing presentations and their online marketing. This led to a 35% increase in listing appointment conversions.
There are no simple answers on when the economic situation of our country will reboot and open up real estate markets. This doesn’t mean that realtors shouldn’t be planning for post-pandemic. Some of the top realtors believe that this is still an opportunistic time for realtors to upgrade.
Building effective communication with customers with the help of reliable technology, finding new opportunities to engage customers, and ensuring the safety of home buyers and realtors are going to some of the important actionable strategies ahead.
With most of the buyers taking a remote approach, realtors need to adapt to new methodologies, remain focused, embrace the change, and get ready for opportunities that lie post-pandemic.