The Covid-19 situation has caused a dramatic shift change in the way most businesses work. Estate and letting agents have been particularly affected. Face-to-face working and in-person viewings are the lynchpin of most estate and letting agencies, and social distancing makes them tricky if not impossible.
So the new trend every agent needs to take on board right now is remote working. In this article we’ll look at some ways you can use remote working to keep your business going and even sell or let property without any personal contact at all.
This is perhaps the really exciting thing about remote working: It’s not just for a crisis. Consumers are getting used to buying more products and services remotely. The days when it’s normal to rent or offer on a house or flat sight unseen likely aren’t too far away. Remote working is more efficient and more cost effective. So getting involved now really can benefit estate and letting agents not only right now but on into the future.
Here are our tips for ways you can work remotely and still win instructions, get enquiries and even make sales:
First, brush up your online presence
Having a good online presence is the key to unlocking the benefits of remote working in the first place. If you have a good online presence it will work as a marketing funnel, channelling in interest and enquiries from buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants remotely.
Here are some ways to brush up your online presence: Look to see if your listings need to be improved. Add interesting and useful content to your website. For example market reports, news, areas guides, how to’s and explainers. Get into the habit of posting regularly to whatever social media you prefer, whether Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram etc.
Make use of remote working technology
To make remote working really work you need remote working technology. That includes ways you can meet and do business without actually meeting. Many businesses have improvised these methods in the current situation but now is the time to consider making them part of your normal routine.
Skype or Facetime video calls are easy to adapt to. WhatsApp is a smart alternative to texts or emails for short enquiries and queries – look at WhatsApp Business. Zoom has taken off during Covid-19 and is almost becoming a must.
Just as importantly as using it, make it clear to customers and other contacts that you’re happy to, for example, do video calls or take enquiries using WhatsApp or whatever.
Make use of virtual property tours
Virtual tours aren’t new in property, but they’ve mainly been the preserve of higher end property due to the cost and time involved. What’s interesting here is that in prime markets it’s not unusual to sell expensive properties following virtual tours.
The challenge now is to open them up to the wider market so even mass market properties can be sold or let partly or even totally from a virtual tour.
How exactly can you offer virtual tours? There are different ways, to suit your time and budget. You can use a professional videography platform. A lower cost option is to create your own tours with a 360 degree camera and tour creating software – something like My360 is one of the more economical options. You can also do it pretty much for free, although the results won’t be quite as polished, by using your phone or tablet then using readily available editing apps like iMovie or Windows 10 Photo.
Virtual tours have other uses too. For example, try adding virtual tours of your local areas and local amenities to your site. Letting agents can use them for inventories.
VR or virtual reality is a development that could be big in property.
Make use of live video
In the current situation more people have started to use live video for meetings or even just keeping in touch with family. But there’s a better use for live video than just a meeting – it’s also possible to use it for viewings.
One great use for live video is to use it to host an open house viewing, just like a physical open house but using video. Film it with your phone or tablet and broadcast it live at a specified time for prospective buyers or tenants to watch. You can broadcast live video using a variety of methods like Zoom, WhatsApp live video calling or social media platforms like Facebook Live and Instagram Live.
You can also offer one-to-one video. If a buyer has a specific query such as ‘Can I get a closer look at the garden?’ or ‘Can you show me the kitchen, so I can get a quote for a new one?’ these can be handled by video, perhaps by the vendor, without the need for a physical visit.
You can use video for appraisals too, assuming your prospective seller or landlord is video savvy. Just offering remote video appraisals could get you enquiries that other agents don’t.
More new working methods to try
Over the last couple of years a whole raft of new working and office technologies have become available. Individually these might be small but when used together they can make it make it much easier to work without meeting face to face.
Remote working and often cloud-based technologies allow your office team to work from home some or all of the time by meeting and collaborating online, and sharing files and documents. You can use something very simple (and free) like Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive, or a more advanced package like Microsoft Teams.
E-signature software can mean reservations, instructions, tenancies and contracts can be signed remotely. For example try DocuSign.
There are a growing number of apps that can save time by handling tasks like referencing, ID documents and deposits online and ‘hands off’ too.
Last but not least, a good CRM package is absolutely essential to help you manage and co-ordinate everything and get the very best from remote working. Take a look at what Apex27 can offer you.