Photo: James Bombales
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop, affecting employment figures, personal finances, and even the way we shop for groceries.
The real estate industry is also scratching its head about the immediate and long-term effects of COVID-19 — what can housing professionals do now and in the future for their leads, marketing strategy and well-being of their clients? During a recent episode of the real estate podcast, Urbanize This, four real estate experts put their heads together to figure out how businesses can adapt to the global crisis and what may be to come.
In keeping with social distancing practices, hosts Ara Mamourian, broker at The Spring Team at Property.ca, and Matthew Slutsky, co-founder of BuzzBuzzHome, chatted with their guests — Andy Brethour, chairman and CEO of PMA Brethour Realty Group and Saul Colt, founder and creative director at SAUL COLT – The Idea Integration Company — over Zoom for their first-ever remotely recorded episode.
Housing Market News Alerts
Sign up now for news alerts on the Canadian housing market
Businesses have had to adapt quickly to accommodate the need for social distancing, and real estate offices have been no different. Brethour and his team “adapted at lightning speed” when the coronavirus picked up traction in Canada, opting to close the office for appointments only, while maintaining strong digital connectivity with customers. Technologies like Docusign and video conferencing, while not universally used by all professionals, have become essential tools to conduct business remotely over the recent weeks.
“It’s hard to change when you’re going from the paper world to the electronic world, with the issue of fraud and accuracy and all of those things that go with it, but we are adapting very, very fast,” Brethour explained. “I think this will become the norm. I really, really believe that we’ll now see targeting audiences and our particular prospects online first and then possibly at point of sale.”
The cliché is that buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life, inevitably making it an emotionally-charged process. As discussed by Colt, the convenience of technology, while working remotely, can strip humanity from the process, so professionals should get creative to make the experience more tangible and engaging. Several ideas were tossed around the metaphorical table — replicating the client’s home in Lego, upping the use of direct mail, and even experimenting with the ol’ good-smelling-open-house trick by sending a recipe for cookies.
“There’s so many ways of creating experiences for people that’ll get them to smile, get them to tell a friend or at the very least, create an emotional connection to take some of the irrational myths out of the whole experience and situation and make it a little bit more of a warmer experience,” said Colt.
With news trickling in every hour and the coronavirus affecting day-to-day living, many buyers and sellers are likely feeling uncertain about what to do next. Right now, Colt explained, is a perfect time to check in on clients to see how they’re doing, not just to build customer management skills, but to extend support and forge relationships.
“Everything we do right now should be over-indexing on humanity, and over-indexing on humanity doesn’t mean giving them free things and showering them with gifts,” said Colt. “It could, if that’s the process that you want to go through, but humanity is really like touch.”
See the link below if you’d like to listen to the entire podcast episode: