How Real Estate Agents are Innovating Due to the Coronavirus

This is such a difficult and challenging time for everyone, and we hope you’re hanging in there and staying safe and healthy! In this week’s blog, we’re diving into the real estate industry and learning how it’s being impacted and what realtors are doing in order to keep their businesses running.

We had the pleasure of speaking with several realtors throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas to gain insight on what exactly those in the real estate industry are experiencing. Their accounts of the virus can give us an accurate picture on how real estate agent are innovating due to the coronavirus!

When speaking with Marguerite DeGrassa, a realtor at RE/MAX Main Line, she had a very positive outlook on the coronavirus. DeGrassa stated ..

“Although COVID-19 has impacted all types of businesses, I am optimistic that the past few weeks have only been a hurdle. We will move past this together through taking proper precautions and resume into a vibrant Spring market!”

Marguerite DeGrassa, a realtor at RE/MAX Main Line

It was so inspiring to hear that people aren’t letting COVID-19 bring them down. When this is over, we will come out on top even stronger than we were before! Check out Marguerite on Instagram and Facebook!

Jake Callahan, Realtor with Ferguson Dechert Real Estate, is located in the New Jersey beaches of Avalon & Stone Harbor. When asked how the Coronavirus has impacted real estate at these major shore points, Callahan stated, “Servicing a community that relies heavily on summer tourism, COVID-19 has left our industry in a state of flux. While most existing contracts are continuing to go to closing, new contracts and new listings are not appearing as heavily as they would normally this time of year. Prices, however, have not dropped. If the economy begins to plummet in the coming months, I predict more owners listing their properties for sale and a reduction in prices. Relative to the summer rental aspect of the industry, everything is on pause. The Governor of New Jersey has ordered no short term leases be drawn- which limits our ability to serve customers. Additionally, those tenants who have existing reservations for the upcoming summer are looking at ways to cancel their reservation and/or find out alternatives. This dynamic has the ability to create problems between home owners, tenants, and agency representatives as we enter these uncharted waters.”

Visit Jake’s Facebook to find out more about his services!

It was refreshing to learn that the prices in the Jersey shore towns have not dropped, yet. It would be great to hear that it stays this way, but as Jake mentioned, there is a good chance that will happen if the economy continues to plummet in the near future.

Realtor Jessica Sinton also was full of information on how the real estate industry has been impacted, and how it will recover once everything is back to normal. Sinton stated,

“The spring real estate market started off strong; with homes often going under contract with multiple offers in less than 24 hours. Low inventory coupled with low interest rates made it a great time for both buyers and sellers alike. When Governor Wolfe ordered the closing of all non life sustaining business, that included real estate. This certainly changed the trajectory of the market, however it hadn’t completely stopped yet. Some buyers and sellers decided to sit back and wait, however many simply could not. Shelter is quite frankly one of our most basic needs, essential now more than ever. Working under a tech driven real estate company, Compass created a platform around virtual agent services allowing us to continue providing service completely virtually. Yesterday a new order was released from PA stating that only real estate contracts entered into prior to March 6 could allow the physical operation of appraisers, inspectors and title insurance companies. Thus making the completion of a transaction near impossible. The specifics in the order have been less than clear and open to varying interpretations causing frustration among realtors. Explaining this ambiguity to clients and being there to support them has been my number one goal. I think if everyone looked at the bigger picture, stopping the spread, we’d be closer to the same page. One thing is universally clear, the importance of comfort in your home has never been so important. With that, I am confident that the real estate market will bounce back with strength and until then we all need to do our part and stay home as much as humanly possible.”

Real Estate Industry Statistics with Virtual Tours

These are stats that we’ve compiled from Matterport and other sources that tell just how valuable virtual tours are to both buyers and sellers.

According to Apartments.com: Visitors to their website spend 3x – 6x more time engaging with property listings that offer a Matterport immersive 3D experience. Properties with Matterport tours receive 49% more qualified leads.

According to Redfin: Homes sell an average of 10 days faster and for $50,100 more than comparable homes thanks to Matterport 3D walkthroughs, advanced presentation technology, and great customer service.

According to REA Group: Buyers are 60% more likely to email an agent and 95% more likely to call an agent they’ve seen that includes a Matterport 3D Showcase.

Agents using Matterport are seeing real results:

  • 90% stated that Matterport helps them build a stronger brand in the marketplace.
  • 83% are more competitive because of Matterport.
  • 74% win more listings because of Matterport.

These stats without a doubt prove how valuable these virtual tours are!

Due to COVID-19, we are now hosting virtual showings and remote settlements. Even though business is now conducted virtually, we are still able to close on time and assist new clients.

Following the pandemic, it’s likely that more and more people from New York City will want to escape the congestion and move to Philly. Philadelphia is significantly more affordable while still hosting a variety of restaurants and activities.

In Greater Philadelphia, housing inventory is still extremely low. Governor Wolf’s order to shut down construction sites is hurting the supply of housing even more. We saw a record-breaking number of buyers this winter. The shutdown is creating pent up demand that we will be prepared to service when the order is revoked. The market still presents good opportunities for buyers given very low interest rates and properties that qualify for the full tax abatement.

Adam Garner, Berkshire Hathaway

Advance Philly is staying competitive during this time by being present and available now more than ever for our clients. The biggest change that we have made is to operate digitally. We have been working with various companies to provide 3D showings via Matterport and have implemented video walkthroughs of properties. Selling properties has gotten more challenging as there are less buyers in the market. I have personally sold 7 properties in the last 2.5 weeks and it takes a lot more hands on activity and work to push sales through now more than ever.

I see the City of Philadelphia remaining strong through this market correction as we are not a Boom or Bust City like NYC and San Francisco. Philadelphia, with its low barrier to entry with development and home ownership, will weed out investors & developers who are overleveraged and will create more investment opportunities for homeowners & developers that are well patient and well capitalized.

Francis Mangubat, Advance Philly

Now more than ever we are making education our priority. From our clients to our team, we’re leveraging education (and data) to keep everyone on the forefront. Additionally, we are holding virtual tours and settlements to keep business moving, safely giving both buyers and sellers what they need. Our title and lenders companies are remaining abreast.

Overall, we are undeniably in a shift. Whether that’s temporary or permanent, we’re not sure. However, I think this is an incredible opportunity for real estate. Philadelphia only has 3.4 months of inventory, making it a seller’s market. Interest rates are still relatively low, giving buyer’s an advantage. I’m excited to see what tools and practices remain after COVID-19. We sure trimmed a lot of fat. Brittany Nettles – She Moves Philly

Brittany Nettles, She Moves Philly

Philly Property Group realtor Mina Sedarous, has also felt the heaviness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being in an industry that relies heavily on human contact, there’s often difficulty navigating during these times.

Mina Sedarous, Philly Property Group

“Business and Entrepreneurship are generally about problem-solving and adding value to people and the community, that’s my opinion anyway. Being in business, you are constantly faced with making decisions, overcoming obstacles and adapting. It shouldn’t be any different during these unprecedented times.

The real estate industry is definitely one of the industries that is directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Real estate professionals constantly depend on human contact and being on the road. It’s tricky times, because part of us doesn’t want to give up and stop helping our clients. However, our commitment will never replace the safety of our clients, team members, and the community as our top and first priority.

Luckily, we have technology already in place to quickly adapt and improve the situation without jeopardizing the safety of our fellow neighbors. City authorities and real estate associations are clear on guidelines and restrictions to ensure the safety of everyone involved in any real estate transaction.

Did the COVID-19 affect some real estate transactions? Yes, but it also didn’t stop others from moving forward or even getting better deals. It is very understandable for some clients: they’re directly affected by the shut-down; they currently are out of work, and it’s unclear how their finances will be affected in the future. On the other hand, mortgage rates are significantly low, the market is not as aggressive meaning there’s less competition, and for savvy investors this is a great time to acquire properties from sellers who are looking to offload their properties.

Also, it’s a great time to start investing if you’re already not. Safe to say it depends on the investment, but it can be a very rewarding step. It might seem risky, but it is even riskier to miss out and not take an advantage of the current market and rates

“Believe it or not, our team did $38 million in sales in the month of March, up 39% from 2019… We are supported with a business plan that takes advantage of all aspects of the business in a more entrepreneurial approach,” according to our broker Art Herling.

In other words, we still continue to help people and the community regardless of the rocky economy. It’s in times like this, now more than ever, that you need an established and reputable team to help you with your real estate needs. Here at Philly Property Group, we are #2 in the state of Pennsylvania per the MLS and #1 Philadelphia suburban team.

My heart goes out to everyone who is affected by the pandemic (in the real estate industry or other industries) whether your income is cut off or if you or someone you know is not doing well. Stay positive, stay strong! This shall pass too. We learned in our real estate team to always check on each other, and I encourage everyone to do the same. And if you do, please don’t stop.

There might be many people who are struggling or they just need someone to talk too. So be there for each other. My team and I are always there for anyone who might need our help. Feel free to reach out even if you just have a question or need counseling on your current situation. We are here to help.” – Mina Sedarous

Compass realtor, Lindsay Neuman, was also able to shed some light as to how the pandemic is pushing her to step outside of her comfort zone all over again, and really zone in on the positives throughout quarantine:

“COVID-19 has forced me to get uncomfortable. I’m a people person. And I love to interact and connect with others…in person. It’s where I get my energy and feel my best. But right now that’s not possible. I’m not able to meet with clients, show homes, meet with sellers, etc. But this “shut down” of my business has been far from a “shut down.”

“I’m connecting with people in different ways that I never thought of before. This is forcing me to think outside of the box and get uncomfortable. Being a social person, I’ve been relying on social media to create communities and have taken it off the ‘gram by hosting some virtual meet ups on a weekly basis. It fills me up in ways that I never imagined and I’m creating lasting relationships for life as well as my business. Onward and upward ⚡️” – Lindsay Neuman

Lindsay Neuman, Compass

Jen Singley, Keller Williams Philly realtor and Temple University alum, was fully transparent about the setbacks that come paired with the virus and how she’s overcome them:

“Covid-19 has affected my business greatly. Since the pandemic became serious in the beginning of March, I have had two buyers back out of their deals and almost all of my current clients who were on the market to buy put their search on hold. Two of my clients who are under contract to purchase new construction homes will not have their homes completed on time, and now must find a temporary housing situation to bridge the gap between their lease ending and their new home being complete due to the restrictions the governor put on residential construction projects. As for listings, home tours are currently not allowed (unless they are virtual) so it has been pretty hard to get those sold that way!

I do see a lot of great changes coming from the necessity to adapt to current conditions though. Virtual tours are becoming more and more common, which I think will save buyers a lot of time in the future of being able to pre-screen holmes a bit better, thus needing to tour less in person before making a decision.The way that our industry has been learning and growing to keep moving forward despite current challenges has been really positive.

In order to keep busy while I don’t have many demanding clients, I am currently using this time to create educational materials for future clients and streamline processes for when the market picks back up this summer. Now is a really great time for buyers and sellers to learn as much as they can, so I am touching base with as many people as possible making sure they have the information they need if they plan to be making a real estate related move in the next year or so.

I’ve also been helping many clients with rentals as many people unfortunately do need to move during this time so I am helping as many people as possible navigate this process by coordinating virtual tours, screening tenants, and preparing leases.” – Jennifer Singley

Jennifer Singley, Keller Williams

And last, but definitely not least, we have Amira Coleman, a realtor with Fox and Roach. Like everyone else, Amira was really looking forward to continuing the grind throughout spring and summer, as these are the busiest seasons in real estate.

But, people still need places to live, so Amira’s job continues (just virtually)!

“It’s not as easy (obviously) assisting someone in the home search in today’s climate. Moving is already somewhat of a stressful event, which is why people use Realtors. My services are at no cost to my clients. Agents are paid by the landlord owner. Typically, I have a preliminary convo with someone and find out the basics.

From there, I start to email over options that match what they are looking for. I tell people to let me know what they’re interested in and we can set up a day to tour a few properties. That’s where things become difficult now. Realtors are not permitted to take clients out on tours, it’s actually a misdemeanor. Not only can you risk your real estate license, you’d be breaking the law and risking some legal action.

It’s a lot more work on agents who have to reach out to each listing agent individually, and see if video is available. I’m focusing on the long term and every day I am helping clients find a home. I’m constantly talking to my clients who are interested in buying in the coming months about the process because buying a home is a process.

If anyone is interested in leasing an apartment or buying a home, I’m happy to talk to them about the steps we can be taking now to prepare for the transaction.” – Amira Coleman

Amira Coleman, Fox & Roach

As you can see, the real estate industry is changing rapidly. To date, we’ve gotten an influx of business in this particular niche market. Many realtors can’t show their places off physically, so in order to help sell, they have to hire a virtual tour provider like Momentum 360.

This just goes to show that what we do not only works, but is considered important in real estate right now.

If you know any real estate group, agent or realtor that needs help during this time, we’re offering massive discounts for our services in order to help small businesses during this time.

Always remember, we’re all in this together. Let’s support one another and make it through this. If you’re stuck between grabbing lunch from a chain or a local business. Choose local.

Here at Momentum 360, we want to make growing your business easier than ever. Investing in a virtual tour is without a doubt an imperative step in making that happen. Our society is prioritizing digital content now more than ever, and we likely will not see a decline in this mindset in the future years.

If you are interested in learning more about Momentum 360 Virtual Tours or would like to have one made for your business, feel free to email us or schedule a call with Sean or Mac. For more information, visit our website website! Mac Frederick and Sean Boyle, owners of Momentum, have over twenty years of experience in the digital marketing field and have a passion for helping businesses reach their fullest potential.

We post our Momentum Monday and Small Business Saturday blog every week, so feel free to subscribe and make sure you are up to date on the latest trends in the industry. If you have any questions or concerns, leave them in the comments below! From everyone at Momentum 360, thanks for the love, stay healthy, and until next time, build Momentum!