Focus on serious buyers
Offering a preview video to potential buyers shows that the business is responding responsibly to the crisis and makes both vendors and potential buyers feel like the business has taken proactive steps to accommodate them. Using video or video call viewings as a first step will also filter out people who are window shopping, or who may otherwise decide that the property is not for them at this early stage. This will minimise the number of in-person visits that need to take place too.
Offering and conducting 360 viewings was the topic of a recent Propertymark webinar where Martyn Baum, who’s had 20 a year career in the estate agency industry, offered advice and suggestions.
Prepare your paperwork first
Conducting your customer checks ahead of arranging any in-person viewing will help to ensure that your potential buyer is in a position to proceed with a transaction. HMRC has issued guidance on how to conduct due diligence checks during social distancing, and this advice can still be used once the restrictions are lifted.
Getting a full picture of the property is also crucial - go through a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) with your vendor to ensure that you can give a potential buyer a full view of what to expect from the property. The PIQ is part of the Propertymark Sales Protocol Toolkit which, if agents are trained up on how to use it, will show they are offering a more supreme service over the other agents and will speed up a sale too.
Reduce social contact during viewings
Once in-person visits are allowed, it is likely that people will be keen to minimise social contact. In countries such as the USA and Ireland, where property visits are still allowed to go ahead in certain circumstances, the social distancing behaviours they have adopted in these countries are helping to minimise viral spread:
- Make sure the vendors are out
- Clean before and after the visit
- Provide gloves and masks for your agents and for visitors
- Make sure all lights are on, cupboards and doors are open – reduce any need to touch anything in the property
- Do not schedule back to back viewings
- Do not conduct any viewings where anyone living in the property is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, however minor.
PROPERTYMARK POST PANDEMIC PLAN
Propertymark’s Post Pandemic Plan articles support agents with their preparations to emerge from the Coronavirus lockdown and prepare them to maximise market potential, add value, and underpin their business.
With businesses in England looking to reopen, and those in other parts of the UK still under lockdown, agency managers may struggle to balance the annual leave needs of staff with keeping the business running both now and when offices are reopened.
Given the uncertain times ahead, agents should consider revitalising their agency and continue adapting to reap the benefits if a second stay at home measure may be on the cards.
As the Secretary of State announced the lifting of restrictions on the property industry last week, agencies have been considering options around returning their staff.
With the property market now open for business in England, agents may find themselves dealing with not only buyers eager to get out there and find a property but vendors who are wary of inviting people into their home.
Social media has always been a vital component for an agency, but given the current times we are faced with, agents should be using these tools to their advantage and looking at their channels as an opportunity to online network.
The timescales are uncertain but, at some point soon, offices and businesses will be allowed to reopen, and people will go back to work. Getting your office prepared is something you can work towards now, whilst still in lockdown.
During the pandemic, agency’s brands should continue to advertise, but the way in which they communicate must be addressed given the significant change in life as we know it. Use this time to analyse your agency and potential customers by utilising data that is already at your fingertips.
During the lockdown period, many agents with furloughed staff have experienced the roles and responsibilities carried out by staff right across the company. This has provided an opportunity to reassess the business and appraise a wide number of processes.
In light of the pandemic, speaking with your clients, marketing your business in the correct light and having the right approach when having conversations has never been so important. Keep your business at the forefront of the ongoing change with some expert advice.
Even when the lockdown is lifted, it is unlikely that life will immediately return to the way it was previously. Agents will be wondering what they can do to provide viewings to service vendors and kick start their business.