Navigating Business in Real Estate With Covid-19 [UPDATED 3-30-20]

Navigating Business in real estate with the covid-19 outbreak

 

As many of you know the novel coronavirus (CoVid-19) is changing the landscape of how businesses operate everywhere. Real estate is by no means an exception to these changes. In the past few weeks we have had to modify the way we operate our services, meetings, and the way we interact with our clients and each other as real estate professionals.

UPDATE 3/28/2020 1PM
Governor Inslee’s compassionate and decisive action, he has issued an important memo creating opportunity for pending transactions to close and allowing limited marketing and brokerage services to prospective buyers and sellers. His order allows inspections, appraisals and walk-throughs to take place under very strict conditions described below.
To be clear, brokers still must comply with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy mandate and with extremely limited exceptions are to conduct real estate business from your homes to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus. For example, brokers will be allowed to meet one-on-one with a client when no other alternative is available, but in no event may more than two people be onsite at a property, including the owner/occupants and the real estate broker. Additionally, social distancing protocols must still be observed and every effort to sanitize surfaces touched must be taken. This also applies to appraisers and inspectors. Private showings are allowed under these new guidelines but again, they are strictly limited to two people on site, including the REALTOR®, as well as following all CDC social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Our commitment to our clients is that we will take every precaution to ensure your safety.  We can all agree that buying and selling a house is a major decision in our lives, however it pales in comparison to our health and our families health.

 

We ask that you bare with us as we try to figure this out.  Things are changing everyday and we are doing everything in our power to stay current and compliant.

 

First Steps – Taking Precautions

 

When the information was first released and we could still perform face-to-face business The Madrona Group and John L. Scott real estate took necessary precautions such as;

 

OPEN HOUSES

 

When holding open houses we made sure that guests maintained social distancing of six or more feet apart, and many of us would require potential buyers to wash their hands or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately upon entry and to remove shoes/cover footwear with booties.

Also, we were always sure to check with your our clients before using any cleaning products, and recommended that they disinfect their home after the open house, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles. 

 

SHOWING HOMES

 

When showing a client a home we would provide gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and face masks for when entering homes.

When showing a home that was occupied we advised the client to be diligent in their own hygiene and health as not to pass along anything and also have them be aware that there was a certain amount of risk involved in being exposed to others germs that they were not familiar with. 

 

MEETINGS AND PRESENTATIONS

 

Meetings in the office at first were limited to 10 people or less, sick agents were asked to stay home and hand sanitizer and  disinfecting wipes were distributed around the office liberally.

 

2nd Phase – Increased Precautions

 

As the situation started to become more serious we kept thinking of ways to keep everyone safe.

Our office, which has about 80 agents, started to present our office meetings on the Zoom platform.

Zoom is a video and screen sharing platform that is easy to use from your laptop or mobile phone or tablet.

 

Example of a Zoom Meeting

zoom meeting

 

We also started to use the Zoom platform for The Madrona Groups weekly meetings, trying to keep the social distancing even among our team.

 

“Shelter In Place”

 

With the recent “shelter in place” mandate by the government all real estate services have been deemed non-essential and yet again the landscape in real estate continues to change.

Many real estate professionals are just now starting to get creative on ways they can interact with their clients and still get them the relevant details on the market. Now is a great time to leverage the many available alternative marketing opportunities. 

We are still able to perform real estate activities virtually.

What we are able to do:

UPDATED 3/28/2020

  • Tour Homes with Clients
  • Schedule Showings on Listings
  • Use the Zoom Platform to show homes virtually
  • Present offers using our Electronic Signature software
  • Keep our listings live so that people can still view the images and in our case our Matterport 3D Virtual Tours
  • Use the Zoom platform to present our Digital Listing Presentation or Digital Buyer Presentation
  • Take calls from buyers agents to negotiate selling terms
  • Make calls to selling agents to present an offer
  • Continue to attend our offices meetings using the Zoom software

 

Matterport 3d Virtual Tour Example

 

We want to reassure you that we will continue to service your needs and can continue to market your home using an incredible array of available technology. 

 

Essential Services

The mandate has determined that Mortgage Banks are essential.  That means that you can still get pre-approved and they will continue to process your home loan during the “shelter-in-place” order.

In addition, it was deemed that escrow services are essential.  That means that they will continue to do provide all the necessary services to ensure that your real estate deal will close.  They are allowed to send mobile notaries to your home to sign documents.

 

Non-Essential Services

  • Home Inspectors
  • Showings
  • Open Houses
  • Appraisals (however, they are working on a way to perform exterior appraisals)

 

Meeting Deadlines

 

With everyone running at limited capacity it is possible that we would not be able to meet normal timeline requirements.  Both the MLS and John L. Scott have prepared for this.

The MLS issued a new form called the Form 22FM, Force Majeure and Closing Addendum to Purchase and Sale Agreement.  This document protects us against timelines that we can not perform because of the “Shelter-in-Place” mandate.  Basically stating that all timelines will extend until it is reasonably practicable.

John L. Scott issued a letter to our clients, their own delayed close addendum and caution to our clients.

The point is that the government wants the real estate industry, that represents 17% of our total GDP, to move on and will not let punish people that continue to move forward.

 

THE MADRONA GROUP

 

At the Madrona Group we have always implemented 3-D interactive property scans on every listing. With the amount of buyers on the market in this area many of them already know that they will want to put an offer on a house based on the virtual tour alone, so it has always been a part of our Seller’s Listing Launch.

Now real estate agents are boasting this as the hot thing to do. Some of the creative things we have been implementing have been hosting virtual tours to help our sellers connect with buyers. We can also conduct these live tours using Skype or Facebook.

We also offer virtual staging to showcase a property as we are not able to hire stagers.

Zoom meetings seem to be the new normal now so we connect our faces to faces in a time when being the trusted advisor and going above and beyond is so crucial.

We believe in relationships over transactions and there is really nothing we wouldn’t do within our scope of authority to help our clients. We have been brainstorming on strategies to continue to offer world class service in the present and put our clients ahead of the curve when this whole thing calms down and blows over.

 

Summary

 

We are still allowed to do real estate services virtually. We can negotiate, list homes, advise clients on real estate, and even put in offers on homes. The only thing we can’t do is see the homes or meet in person.

As I write this I have currently got 6 calls for warm leads on people actively searching and interested in real estate. People are still out there and it gives me a lot of hope on how things will recover.

These are unprecedented and uncertain times, but what I have witnessed over the last few weeks is people that genuinely care for each and really have the general community’s best interest at heart.

We here at the Madrona Group hope everyone is staying safe, happy, healthy and at peace.

Take care of yourselves and those that are closest to you. I have faith that we will get through this stronger than when it all started. Growth comes in the valleys!

If you need help with real estate or just want to chat about things give us a call!!

 

About the Author

Chris Fiamengo

Chris Fiamengo was born and raised locally in the Shoreline area, formally known as Seattle. He spent the weekdays with his mom who was a hard working bartender at the time and weekends with his dad who lived and worked in Seattle as a prominent artist and sign writer. His first job was helping out his grandpa with his HVAC business. This was where he learned that relationships were the key to any good business. If you take care of the customer the rest takes care of itself.

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