Right now, “Marketoonist” Tom Fishburne’s latest cartoon is going viral… there’s a board meeting where the head of the company says “Digital transformation is YEARS away. I don’t see our company having to change anytime soon.” Outside their window is a wrecking ball with “COVID-19” written in big bold letters coming straight at them. This may hit close to home for a lot of businesses, but perhaps this is most relevant for members of sales teams selling homes.
Challenges Pave the Way for Innovation
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” – Robert Tew
On one hand, historically low interest rates have given homebuyers an opportunity to obtain a mortgage and home that they were unable to obtain beforehand. On the other, according to CNBC, weekly mortgage applications have significantly dipped 18% within a week. It’s clear to see there is a disconnect between seller and buyer. While the economic downturn has affected each individual’s financial stability differently, a common thread is visible in the data – people don’t want to leave home to tour prospective homes, and understandably so.
Solutions around the Country
We took a nationwide look at how sales teams and agents are responding to today’s ever-shifting landscape. We did the research, analyzed the trends and spoke directly with a home expert that’s facing these challenges every day.
Driving Success Virtually
In master-planned community Savannah Quarters®, home buyers find a variety of product selection, ranging from low-maintenance single-floor homes to custom estates. Realtor and sales executive Tracy Quarterman has been an expert of the Georgia-based community since 2007. Today, she faces a new challenge because the buyers she worked with in-person are now at home, and, perhaps more importantly, behind a screen.
“My goal has always been to schedule in-person tours so people can become comfortable with Savannah Quarters®. My biggest shift has been the transition from in-person tours to using video conferencing services for virtual home tours. Video tours have been adopted by our entire team, which is reflective of our self-improvement culture and caring for each other through social distancing,” Tracy said.
Early on in these trying times, Tracy and the Savannah Quarters® Realty team were proactive in offering virtual meetings to prospects, allowing immersive video home tours. She believes that videos are allowing Realtors and sales teams to find success, and she has seen the results. She is currently working with 4-5 clients that have utilized these tours, and one is preparing to close, even without seeing the location in-person.
“Of course, we have some buyers that are either uncomfortable or aren’t fully equipped to use live video tours. So, for these customers I share pre-recorded videos so they can get a feel of what is waiting for them here,” Tracy said.
A Social Push
On Facebook alone, there are 2.48 billion active users who consume 100 million hours of video on the platform every day. It’s clear to see social media is a proven, popular and promising tool. Beyond just video, social media has become one of the gold standards when communicating with customers. Realtors have seen success by sharing listings, snapshots of closings and so much more. In Savannah Quarters®, Tracy maximizes her social channel’s potential by sharing inventory, incentives and the happy homeowners she has helped…and the engagement metrics prove others love seeing it too.
It’s hard to imagine closings without sitting at a table in an attorney’s office, signing a stack of papers. Today, some savvy sales teams have created curbside closings. Pioneered by Taylor Morrison’s title company Inspired Title Services, homebuyers park outside the office while a notary delivers all the paperwork, witnesses and signatures – all within the recommended safe distance of six feet.
Do the Robot
Chatbots are a leading solution for prospects to utilize when initially looking into a product or service. Yet as BDX states, the team at AtlasRTX worked with NewHomeSource.com to create something truly unique – Builderbot – a chatbot software specifically for builders and their customers as they begin the early steps of their relationships. Teams across the country are using this tool to deliver valuable information to homebuyers in an efficient manner. If you weren’t using Builderbot before, it’s now more vital than ever.
A Healthy Dose of Humanity
With social distancing in place, people respond to content they actually can enjoy and utilize during quarantine, which allows for increased engagement. A sales executive for Hampton Lake in Bluffton, SC distributed a thoughtful eblast campaign, where he showcased community photos and video that he made alongside his four boys. Meanwhile, the team at Riverlights in Wilmington, NC shared several articles via eblasts that shared tips to help families make the most out of their time together at home.
Meet the Digital Demand
From the East Coast to the West, Realtors are finding success with virtual tours. For instance, in New York City, despite being one of the most severely impacted areas of the pandemic, Realtors find success through virtual open houses. In fact, the demand for these tours are in such high demand that StreetEasy, a video tour development company, rolled out a new set of tools and features, including 360-degree panoramic photo tours, according to Curbed New York.
The Ones Who Drive Results
Realtors and sales executives are the driving force of the industry’s biggest shift since IDX/MLS Broker’s establishment. According to Redfin, 1/3 of tour requests are now video chats led by an agent. These are not only cost-effective, but thoughtful.
Adapting is Key
When the pandemic initially hit the U.S., the more proactive home sellers began pushing the message to the public that they were committed to increased office and model home cleanings. Today, while the number of walk-ins has decreased significantly, people are generally willing and excited to have an in-person meeting when social distancing can be practiced. Now, teams look to the future where they will be taking measures to divert congestion points, limit capacities and vet prospects before entering public spaces.
Empowering Teams for Results
One thing is certain – the actions your sales team take today will make an impact in the days after this pandemic. At Able&Co., we are guiding and empowering builders, sales teams and developers as they navigate these days and beyond. Our award-winning marketing and communication experts offer scalable and effective solutions that help organizations and professionals in the home-selling space move forward, whether those solutions are virtual tours, chatbots or something custom-tailored to their situation.
It’s time to get to work. Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve success.