Since the government’s announcement about changes to the way the real estate industry operates, including the ban of in-person auctions and open houses, real estate agents across the country have had to pivot the way they do business and get creative.
Now more than ever, the online channels are essential to promote your properties and get the most possible exposure for your landlords and vendors. And the portals are simply not enough anymore.
We’ve put together our top tips on how agents can leverage the online platforms during COVID-19.
With the government recommending people stay at home other than for essential activities, reducing the need to inspect properties and qualifying serious buyers or tenants prior to in-person appointments is even more important. Not only will it save you time taking unsuitable parties through your properties, but it will also reduce the risk of spread for all involved, including you.
Virtual inspections are a great alternative for a first-time enquirer and we’re seeing our real estate clients do this in many ways. From simple video tours taken on a smartphone showing all the vital features of the property to adding music, voiceovers and captions to heighten the experience. The beauty of video is it can be viewed multiple times whenever each client wants.
There are also some great products on the market for 3D tours and other tools that allow you to add your furniture to a floor plan and plan your layout online — now is the time to harness these services.
Live video walkthroughs
Another option to view a property remotely is to do a live video walkthrough. You can do this on your Instagram or Facebook channels as a “live” video post, or if you are working with a qualified, hot buyer, you could do a Facetime or Zoom walkthrough with them one on one prior to an in-person private appointment.
A one-on-one Facetime inspection allows you to still offer a very personalised service to your buyers.
We believe this is so important during this COVID-19 period. All businesses need to find new ways to offer more value to their customers in order to retain them and keep them engaged so that when this period is over, they will be ready to get started doing business with you. It will also give your buyer more time to ask you questions regarding the property; they may have specific needs that you can address during this live virtual inspection.
Social media ads
If you aren’t already offering your vendors and landlords a social media advertising component as part of their marketing package, now is certainly the time to implement this and quickly.
We represent multiple agents and agencies across Australia and feedback we are receiving is very varied in terms of how the market is being impacted by COVID-19.
Generally, prices are dropping, and buyers are expecting a bargain. Driving as much enquiry as possible is imperative to maintain competition among buyers on your properties. Social media advertising is a great way to promote your property to potential buyers, especially in the surrounding areas of the property.
With Facebook and Instagram, you can create targeted social media ads that promote your listing and drive enquiry. We recommend an advertising budget of at least $50 per week for each property listing for social media ads, keep your targeting niche and use property videos for your creative where possible. These tend to be more interactive than simple images.
Using ephemeral content (AKA Stories)
Now is a great time to use Stories on Instagram and Facebook to showcase your listings and get more exposure for your properties. Most professional property photo shoots will only include five images/angles of your listing (bonus hot tip: speak to your photographer ASAP about doubling that number and include as many images as possible on your online listing).
The great thing about Stories is that you can tell a story about the home, share its history and showcase the lifestyle that is possible, in this property and in the local area. The important thing with Stories is that you actually tell a story, so use multiple photos and videos and create multiple Story slides for each property listing.
Importantly, you want to save these to your highlight reel, so they appear at the top of your Instagram profile. Create a highlight reel called “Current Listings” and add your new Stories to this each day. Get creative here and don’t be afraid to do something a little bit fun or different.
Stories is also a great place to share “coming soon” posts to build excitement about the property before it goes live online.
Get creative with your social media content
With social media, you can get more creative about your property marketing, without the bounds of the online portals. Think about the benefits for buyers looking at this property and how you can communicate that in an entertaining and fun way through videos and imagery on social media.
Now is the time to make your listings stand out from the rest. One idea is to interview the owner/s about the home and what they loved about living there. This will allow you to connect with the buyers emotionally through the power of storytelling. You can do this via Zoom and record the session if you need to.
Encourage your buyers to DM or direct message you about a property, make it as convenient for them as possible to ask questions and adapt the way you do business to respond to them quickly.
Don’t drive them to the portals to make enquiries; catch them while they are engaged on the platforms they use most.
Social media can also be used to showcase the “normal lifestyle” of the area such as the surrounding facilities and local amenities such as parks, walking tracks and businesses. At some point, the world will return to normal and buyers inspecting your properties right now won’t be able to get a good gauge of the true vibe of the area pre-COVID-19.
If you already have some local imagery, then you are one step ahead, but if you don’t, a great hack is to use “user-generated images”. Search Instagram and Facebook for photos of your area taken by locals before COVID-19; be sure to credit the photographer in your post.
For videos, use the IGTV feature on Instagram to upload content longer than 60 seconds. Caption your videos to cater for people watching on mute, which is around 85 per cent of people.
By Tiffany Wilson, Chronicle Republic
Emma Ryan is the deputy head of editorial at Momentum Media.
Emma has worked for Momentum Media since 2015, and has since been responsible for breaking some of the biggest stories in corporate Australia, including across the legal, mortgages, real estate and wealth industries. In addition, Emma has launched several additional sub-brands and events, driven by a passion to deliver quality and timely content to audiences through multiple platforms.
Email Emma on: [email protected]