If you know any one of the thousands of Nevadans working in the real estate industry, they are likely in a much better mood this week. From Realtors and their teams to title companies, mortgage lenders and escrow services, they are learning how to operate in a completely new business environment and preparing for the new business they hope to earn once the government shutdown is lifted.
The real estate industry was understandably concerned at the prospect of a complete business shutdown, even though we have been identified as an essential service. Nevada, in particular, was among the country’s hardest hit in a recession that has recovered well but hurt collectively for several years. We are finding that people still need to buy and sell homes, though obviously not in the frequency we were seeing just a few months ago. Our data shows that 60 percent of our clients still want to sell their homes and move forward with the marketing of their properties.
During that slowing of business activity due to physical restrictions and fewer homes on the market, I have encouraged the real estate sales executives I work with throughout Nevada, Arizona and California to use the time they would have spent networking or meeting with clients to educate themselves on how to do business in this new economy.
How many Realtors do you know that have learned to use Zoom in the past two months? Facebook Live? These are platforms that are transforming the way we market and show homes. At my company, we are constantly looking for new and better ways to do business. We introduce new platforms and partnerships regularly that allow our agents to market their clients’ homes locally, across the country and to international investors. Each platform offers unique capabilities that allow us to sell our clients’ homes faster and for a higher average sale price.
But many agents are just now learning all of the ways they can use technology to be better in their representation. They are creating virtual showings and open houses, showing homes live on Facebook and Instagram. They are using Zoom and Google platforms to meet with their clients and are creating their sales presentations with sites like Issuu to demonstrate their capabilities to prospective clients.
Virtual open houses have been a particularly positive new business process during this time. We are now utilizing virtual technology to expose a property to hundreds more prospective buyers instead of simply waiting for that car to pull in the driveway on weekends to see a home. Ultimately, everything is better for the consumer, be it the seller or the buyer.
And, if you’ve been on social media at all, you are likely to have seen lots of new content from real estate professionals. That’s a good thing! If they didn’t previously know how to create video, which gets much more engagement on social media, they can use programs like Zillow 3D Home Tour, which takes their property photos and creates a 3D video of the home. All we need to figure out now is to add the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!
We are also hosting and participating in continuing education classes online, which are proctored and recorded for state-required licensing requirements.
To encourage my company’s agents to use more digital and social platforms, we recently launched the BHHS Virtual Sales + Productivity Contest. It’s a fun way to reward people for moving forward in a digital environment. They get Novice points for things like sending out e-newsletters and participating in Facebook Live meetings. Intermediate points are awarded for creating new social media posts and business profiles on platforms like Facebook Business and LinkedIn. Expert points are awarded for activities including creating virtual sales presentations and hosting a virtual open house. The goal is to get late adopters used to these new types of business practices.
My ultimate goal is to support and develop real estate sales executives, which are primarily small-business owners. We are recruiting virtually to continue our own business growth, by virtually showing prospective agents that we have the tools to keep their business moving forward.
Overall, we are doing the best we can to support our clients. We have seen much less mob mentality during the past few months. People are making thoughtful and long-term decisions. New homes are being bought and sold every day. In the age of coronavirus, the trademark characteristics of a Realtor are assets: tenacity, kindness, friendliness and the ability to never give up. Let’s get back to work, Nevada!
Gordon Miles is president and chief operating officer of Americana Holdings, the largest independently owned franchise in the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices global network. Americana Holdings operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona Properties and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Combined, the companies have 3,500 real estate sales executives and 32 offices throughout the three states and completed $5.5 billion in residential home sales in 2019. For more information, visit www.bhhsnv.com.