COVID-19 has made listing and selling your property online a necessity. Here are some tips to help you through the process.
Abigail CukierJul 03 20205 minute read
When real estate agent Steve Winters was taking his client on a video walkthrough of a home, he jumped in the shower to give a better idea of its size. “I joked with him that I never expected to be doing that,” says the St. John's, Newfoundland agent. “This is new for everyone. We just have to embrace it.”
Tools such as video conferencing, Interac e-Transfers® and virtual open houses are making it possible to sell your home while adapting to the social distancing rules. But with the convenience of technology, virtual selling is sure to stick around after these measures have been lifted. Here's a peek at what it's like to virtually list, show and close the sale on your home.
Find a knowledgeable agent who is technologically savvy
As always, it’s best to look for an experienced real estate professional with knowledge of your community. Online reviews and recommendations from friends and family are helpful. Virtual consultations with agents can help you find someone you feel comfortable with and let you see how well they handle technology and virtual meetings, which will be important during the selling process.
An agent should also be adept at online advertising and active on social media, which will help ensure more potential buyers see your listing. A technologically-savvy agent will also provide you with multiple ways to get in touch with them and know how to use programs such as those that allow electronic signing of documents.
Support the listing process to help your property stand out
Your agent will set up a video conference to discuss your goals, the local housing market and how the process will work. You will share photos and videos of your property or walk them through over video chat to help the agent recommend a listing price.
Your agent, or their home stager, will suggest how to prepare your property for potential buyers, including techniques like decluttering, rearranging and minor updating, such as painting. Your agent will coordinate a time for their photographer to take photos of your property when you are out or provide tips on how you can take the best photos.
“Staging and videos are that much more important because you have to catch buyers on the virtual tour, prior to any showing. In some cases, there may not be a showing,” says Winters. “You need to grab their attention and set yourself apart with your photos and videos.”
Attract buyers through online marketing
While the value of online marketing has been growing, the virtual space is more crucial now than ever, as buyers want to browse as much as they can from their own homes. In fact, between April and May 2020, there was a 50% increaseOpens a new window in your browser. in Realtor.ca users sorting properties to show those with a virtual tour first.
In addition to their website, a good agent should be keen to share your listing widely, including social media channels and with their network of agents. A technologically-savvy agent can provide virtual open houses or even 360-degree 3D tours, which can be pre-recorded or hosted live. Some apps, like FaceTime and EyeSpy360, allow people to view a home and ask questions via video chat.
“A lot of this technology existed before, but it has become more prominent during COVID-19 and we will see it become the norm,” said Cliff Stevenson, a real estate agent in Calgary, Alberta.
“It’s even more important to work with someone who understands the impact of technology and online marketing. But it may not be necessary to find an expert. If there is an agent who you really like who is willing to become familiar with the technology, that would be OK. A lot of people are adjusting and learning as they go and a lot of realtors are adapting to this very quickly.”
Use digital tools for a smooth closing
Closing on a real estate deal usually involves in-person meetings and signings, but tools exist so this isn’t necessary. Regulatory and licensing bodies have changed some rules to allow for virtual processes. For example, the Law Society of Ontario ruled that lawyers and paralegals aren’t required to be physically present to verify a signature. Alternatives, such as video meetings, are acceptable.
Home inspections require an on-site visit, but inspectors will arrange a time when you aren’t home and send a report electronically. Your agent can explain terms of an offer and make recommendations by phone or video conference. Digital identity technologies are also sophisticated enough to identify a driver's licence or legitimate documents and allow for secure e-signatures. For payments, you should ensure your lawyer and agent are set up to receive money with Interac e-transfers and also that you can set up your lawyer as a “bill payee” through online banking. A lockbox can help with the transferring of keys.
“It's fascinating to watch how much of the process can be handled remotely. And clients are becoming more comfortable with it,” said Stevenson. “With the convenience and ease, we will see this become more popular. There will be a change in mentality of what showing and selling your home looks like.”
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