For some clients, the middle of a global pandemic isn’t the ideal time to buy or sell a home. But there are still many people who can’t put their plans on hold—the studio apartment-dwelling couple who just learned they’re expecting twins; the daughter helping her father transition to an assisted living community; the military family being re-stationed across the country.
To serve these clients remotely, agents must learn to embrace the virtual buying/selling process.
Keller Williams agent Philip Lopez was already accustomed to virtual interactions with clients—even before COVID-19. Based in San Antonio, Philip specializes in military relocations. His clients often don’t see their new homes until the final walkthroughs, right before they sign the final papers.
In a Facebook Live interview with Firepoint’s Gabe Cordova, Philip walked us through his virtual homebuying process and shared a few of his own tools (which you can download and use for your own business!).
Read on to learn how you can continue to serve your real estate clients during these uncertain times.
Gabe Cordova: You’ve been doing this for a while now. How long have you been selling virtually?
Philip Lopez: San Antonio is a military city, so we've been doing this pretty much since we began. And so the process was already there.
GC: What are some of the tools you’re using?
PL: Back in the day, we really just did phone consultations. Now we have the capability to do Zoom calls and FaceTime, so we get together with our clients through there and go over the whole process with them. And then, through our website and MLS, we can set them up to receive email notifications of available homes that match their criteria. We use our phones or GoPro camera to take videos of the home. As far as getting things electronically signed, we use DocuSign.
GC: What are some other things that make this whole process possible?
PL: Our title company does mobile pickup. They’ll pick up and deliver checks, and send out mobile notaries. Typically there’s a charge for this kind of service, but during this current situation, they’re offering it as a courtesy. It's pretty neat to see everybody come together and still let business continue.
GC: When you’re recording video on your phone, how are you delivering? What are some best practices for sharing video?
PL: We're doing one to two minute videos. We are sending them via email and via text. We’re keeping the videos short, because I think once they’re more than three minutes long you have to edit them. We're keeping them really simple, but it's enough to get the point across. And I think the biggest thing is having a FaceTime call with the client so they can ask questions during that walkthrough of the property. Then, afterwards, the recorded videos will help them remember. When they’re wondering, “Oh, did it have this or that?” they can go back to the video.
And, of course, when we’re recording video of a listing that’s not our own, we’re asking the seller’s agent for permission from their client.
To create video for our listings, we’re putting together a video with our GoPro, then uploading it to YouTube and putting the link into the “additional information” or “agent remarks” section of the MLS.
GC: You created a safety checklist—could you tell us more about that?
PL: This explains our precautionary measures for the public and for other agents that are coming through our properties. We've taken measures like putting booties and hand sanitizer in our properties. So this is a good visual that we can display in the home and send out via email.
These are scary times, with all of the health issues, so we want to make sure that everybody is taken care of right now.
GC: Some agents have worried they are doing a disservice to their clients by not telling them to wait. What are your thoughts on that?
PL: With military families specifically, I feel that we are servicing them correctly because they need a place to live—because a lot of them are getting PCS (permanent change of station) pretty quickly. And so we are doing everything in our power to give them as much information about the property, providing seller disclosures, etc., so that they're well educated about the home they're purchasing. And of course there's always an option to come out and see the property. We can put it under contract and there's an option period that gives them the chance to come see the home at a future date. So feel that we are definitely servicing them correctly.
GC: I’ve heard from agents all over the country right now that there is actually a lot of interest. People are asking questions. I think a lot of people realize the rates are still at historic lows. And we're probably going to start seeing more inventory.
PL: Right. A lot of people still need to buy homes. I advise agents to take these two documents (the safety checklist and the Virtual Home Buying Program) and send it out to your database, send it out to your current clients, and send it out to everybody. Because a lot of consumers believe that everything's on hold right now. And I get that for some people it is, because of employment and things like that. But there are still consumers that do want to purchase. And so the biggest thing is making sure that you're getting the word out there to your clients and to other agents that they do have the option to buy or sell right now.
GC: I think that's what our job as an agent is—to focus on the solutions, not the problems. To give them options. Just listen to what your clients are saying—if they don't want to go, just be ready when they're ready to go. There are enough people right now that want to go look at property if you have the right tools to do it.
PL: Yeah. And if not—because this is a sensitive time—then we wait until the storm passes.
To view the full webinar and access Philip’s virtual home buying tools, click here.
Sammy Harper is a content writer at Firepoint & Realvolve. Her nine years of digital marketing experience include SEO, email marketing, social media, and blogging. Fascinated by the real estate indust...Read More