Advice from Larry Weltman: How to Keep Your Real Estate Business Moving Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted On Thursday, 01 October 2020 21:23

There is little doubt COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on more than one industry during the last 6 months, and the business impact of the pandemic continues to unfold globally.  

In Canada, COVID-19 hit the real estate market especially hard during the usually robust spring season.  Around mid to late summer, however, residential sales activity and pricing started to rise once again, which was welcome news for all those who work in the real estate business. 

Now that restrictions have loosened, some agents and brokers are turning their eyes toward the future, and they are devising new strategies for how to run their real estate sales business moving forward.  The truth is, the outlook for home sales remains uncertain and is dependent on post-COVID-19 recovery. 

Through his role at AccessEasyFunds in Toronto, Larry Weltman helps realtors not only start up, but also expand their real estate businesses by using commission advance services as a key financing tool.  Larry Weltman says that what many people don’t realize is that home sales have a ripple effect on the economy.

“If you think about it, a prosperous real estate market means more work for contractors doing renovations and for local retailers, whether they sell mattresses, furniture, or appliances,” says Weltman.

In Toronto, a large surge in demand for low-rise housing pushed area home sales and prices to record highs in August.  The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board reported 10,775 home sales in August, up more than 40 percent from 7,682 in the same month a year ago. 

Michael Grant, a sales representative at Royal LePage Infinity, comments, “Between March and June, sellers took their homes off the market. A lot of people were afraid to have strangers walking through their homes.”

One big development that could continue the increase in sales is that real estate professionals, in most places at least, are now allowed to show homes in person. For real estate agents who navigated their showings through ZOOM calls in the spring, the ease of this particular restriction comes with some rules. 

“At showings, agents should be wearing masks and requiring the home buyers to do the same.  They should also be equipped with sanitizer and disinfectant to clean things like door knobs and light switches between each showing,” explains Larry Weltman.

Agent Tim Otitoju describes his experience showing homes during COVID-19.  Tim says, "I've got little shoe covers in the back of my car. My realtor tools have certainly changed.” 

If an agent or potential buyer still doesn’t quite feel comfortable with in-person showings, then they may opt to keep things virtual. It's all part of the changing sales process in real estate, now during COVID-19 and most likely well into the future. 

Weltman says even buyers of expensive listings are seeing the advantages of virtual tools that were popularized during the pandemic.

“An agent can easily give a tour where they carry a camera around the house,” he says.  “This allows buyers to look at the details up close, like views of the outside from the kitchen for instance.”For sellers, it reassures them that those who end up at in-person showings are interested in buying, he says.

Outside of virtual tours, the contract and agreement side of real estate transactions can be made through the internet, as well.  With e-signing, e-closing and online notary services, agents can help their clients sign on the dotted line without having to pick up a pen.  Additionally, agents can share documents in real time via sharing platforms like Google Hangouts. 

All in all, Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Volkers Americas,  predicts shopping for homes will become similar to car shopping.  Buyers will start their research online.  

"The most valuable thing you have is your time," says Hitt, saying that online tours cut down on travelling.

If agents are going to successfully run their real estate business through these uncertain times, then there are a few things they will need to know in order to attract potential clients.  Larry Weltman says one of those is to create and nurture relationships through social media. 

“Agents should most definitely use social media to keep in touch with current clients, attract new ones, and maintain their reputation as a trusted realtor and real estate resource.”

He also suggests that agents beef up listing information on a property.  The more information about listing, the better because it will give buyers a better idea about the property’s features.  Lastly, agents should not stop marketing their services.  Continued advertising during slowtimes can result in improved short-term and long-term sales. 

Most importantly, realtors should continue to be flexible, plan ahead, and help their clients explore their home buying options in the best way they can. By adapting to these changes now, agents can continue to ensure their success well into the future.

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