Like many of you, I have been spending LOTS of “together time” with my kids during this worldwide pandemic that’s left us all quarantined. As of yesterday, we are under a statewide mandate to shelter in place, or as the governor of Virginia says repeatedly in his afternoon pressers: “stay home”. So I’ve been working from home along with my girls. Recently, one of their teachers encouraged them to blog about their experience during quarantine. They are, in fact, living history. Aren’t we all?
Today I took that teacher’s advice and began writing this blog. But up until this week, I was still showing property. A container of Clorox wipes has been riding shotgun in my passenger seat for weeks. I have hand sanitizer attached to my crossover bag for quick access and sanitation.
Hand sanitizer has become part of my realtor uniform along with other Covid accessories like Lysol spray, Clorox wipes, and gloves. Before my client arrives at a property, I hold a Clorox wipe in my hand to open the lockbox and front door, then I wipe down the door handles and light switches before we tour. When buyers arrive for showings, I stay 6 feet away and offer plastic gloves and shoe covers for them to use. These measures prevent my buyers from bringing germs into the property. I have given shoe covers to all my sellers to keep by the door, but I have already run out of gloves and I am running low on wipes. I imagine in-person showings are shifting to virtual tours since yesterday’s state order.
Getting Social while Social Distancing
Since the state mandate, realtors are trying to pivot to the current guidelines and balance them with client needs. We have been deemed “essential workers” in our state, but now we are mainly showing homes virtually. I added video tours to all my new listings for potential buyers to peruse at their leisure, which during quarantine, can result in endless hours of online consumption.
So it’s social media to the rescue for those of us in sales. People are devouring real estate on their smart phones, swiping through listing photos like they’re on Match.com. I shifted to video a while ago, and with housing inventory at a historic low in the Richmond metro area, it’s still a good time to sell a home. However, it’s incumbent on all of us to remain vigilant with safety precautions as we address housing needs.
Pivoting to Video
If buyers are apprehensive about venturing out for a showing, I can send them a professionally filmed listing tour. I can also provide a live Facetime showing. I did this recently and it was interesting for me to understand what buyers “see” during these virtual showings. One particular buyer asked questions like “where is the shower?” and “what’s behind that door?” We could freely talk during the virtual showing to explore all the things she wanted to view.
My listings all have interior video tours that also include aerial pictures of the neighborhood, offering a wide angle view of the home and its surroundings. For neighborhoods with amenities, I’ve been photographing the amenities along with the regular listing pictures so buyers can see the pools and playgrounds and walking trails instead of just reading about them. And coming up, I am working on a virtual open house since our local real estate association has understandably banned traditional open houses since they typically result in gatherings of 10 or more people.
I feel lucky to work in the age of technology. Yes, quarantine and staying at home is hard, but people still need housing, and I am grateful to have technological tools to provide buyers and sellers with all the information they need. A client can literally conduct an entire real estate transaction virtually if that’s their desire. With the aid of photography, video tours, Facetime, Skype, and Zoom, along with the practical tools that allow electronic signatures and remote closings, the real-estate age is poised for this particular moment in time. However, all this technology does remove some of the personal touches that I love about this business. As we all figure out our “new normal,” I am here to work through these unprecedented circumstances and protect our health while serving your housing needs. Stay safe, friends.