There are times when an in-person interaction with a client just isn’t possible. Maybe they’re a military family being relocated across the country, and flying back and forth to view homes just isn’t feasible. Or maybe there’s a ruthless pandemic sweeping the nation and everyone is sheltering in their homes.
One San Antonio real estate agent is familiar with both of these scenarios. For several years, Philip Lopez has been refining a virtual home buying program that helps military families relocate to Texas. Now, he’s using the same process to serve people who can’t put their plans on hold, even as COVID-19 wreaks its havoc.
In an interview with Gabe Cordova (president of Firepoint/Realvolve), Keller Williams agent Philip Lopez (Lopez Group) shared tips and tools for carrying out his virtual home buying process.
How To Provide A Virtual Home Buying Program During COVID-19
Use the right tech tools (and keep it simple).
The Lopez Group uses Zoom and FaceTime for live video calls with clients; this is how they walk clients remotely through a home. They also use a GoPro to record video that can be uploaded to YouTube.
Philip doesn’t bother with Matterport or 3D videos; he keeps it simple and authentic. Gabe backed up his choice, saying, “Matterports are beautiful, but when you’re doing a FaceTime video walkthrough and you're talking with somebody, I think it gives you more depth. I don't know why, but there's a whole different feel to it.”
For electronic signing, the team uses DocuSign.
To show a home, combine live video calls with recorded video.
The live FaceTime tour of a property allows your client to ask questions as you take them through the house. But they’ll also want something to go back and reference after the tour is over. Make short video clips (one to three minutes long, so they’re easy to send via text) that show the entire property.
And remember, always get the homeowner’s permission before recording video of their home!
Promote your own listings with video.
To promote your own listings, upload video clips to YouTube and include those YouTube links in the MLS notes section. On the San Antonio MLS, Philip puts his YouTube links in the Agent Remarks section.
Enlist the cooperation of your title company.
The Lopez Group's title company provides mobile notary service, and they will pick up and drop off checks. During the COVID-19 crisis, they are kindly offering their mobile notary services as a courtesy. Reach out to your own title company to see if they would be willing to offer similar services.
Display information on your safety measures.
Philip created a flyer that is displayed by the front door of all of the team’s listings. It lists all of the ways the Lopez Group is being safe—All surfaces have been disinfected, Doors have been left open to minimize contact, etc. This reassures everyone—the buyer, the seller/homeowner, and anyone else who will be involved with the property—that the Lopez Group is aware of the gravity of the situation and is taking the appropriate steps to be safe.
Let your clients know that buying/selling is still an option for them right now.
A lot of people believe that real estate decisions must be put on hold during the current situation. Create a document describing your virtual home buying program (download Philip’s template) and send it to people in your database to let them know that this is an available option.
Don’t put any pressure on them (or yourself, for that matter). Safety is the number one priority right now, and if anyone involved feels uncomfortable, pull back.
But if you do choose to reach out to your database, start by calling the people you were most recently in conversation with, whose plans were interrupted by the coronavirus’s impact.
Life doesn’t stop, even if our daily routines are suddenly unrecognizable. People are still having babies, getting new jobs, rehoming elderly parents into assisted living communities, and being re-stationed to military bases on the other side of the country.
And because life keeps going, your real estate business can continue to thrive.