After returning to an “open” business environment after three months, the future of Open Houses seems to be bordering extinct. Or more accurately obsolete, like the typewriter.
Can you write with a typewriter? Yes, but why would you? Can you have an Open House? Yes, but with all the restrictions necessary and appointments required, why would you want to go?
Open House Pivot
Pivot is a word often used to express the dramatic and rapid changes impacting the real estate market due to COVID19. Some changes were underway but became accelerated, like virtual selling.
Others, like Open Houses, have completely “pivoted” to something other than what they were.
The non-committal and casual nature of Open Houses was a way to explore local real estate without an agent, or appointment.
Virtual Open Houses were a work around during our COVID19 shut down, using video previously taken or with the owner’s cooperation via Zoom video conference.
The new standard is to present a virtual Open House on Zoom with the agent guiding a tour of previously recorded video or navigating the Matterport 3D layout. Appointments are required, and if you “stop in” late you miss the video tour.
While it’s better than nothing, and a way to get a “peak” at the interior of the home, it’s not the casual easy way to explore real estate that we have enjoyed for so long.
Virtual Selling – the new standard of practice
In today’s market, virtual selling should be a standard of practice. I’ve sold homes virtually using video since 2008. It doesn’t make sense to book an appointment for a video tour that I already have access to, or should.
Every listing should provide a video tour. For my sellers I do a marketing video, think of it like a movie trailer;
Then I do the actual walk through video which takes you through the home as if you are there.
The home buying process has “pivoted.” Home buyers used to wait to interview and hire an agent until they were ready to buy. Now it’s best practice to do that at the beginning of your search.
Likewise, your pre-approval is needed early in the process as it’s required along with a COVID19 form to book showings.
Open House Standards Due to COVID19
Now that physical Open Houses are allowed, understandably there are awkward restrictions. As an example, here are highlights of a current brokerage’s Open House guideline for agents;
1. Sales associates and all open house visitors must wear a mask.
2. Social distancing rules should be maintained.
3. Disinfect all high-touch areas prior to and between each group of visitors; provide hand sanitizer if possible.
4. Sales associates should limit open house attendance to one group at a time to maintain appropriate distancing and accompany them through their tour to minimize unintended touching of surfaces. Additional groups can be asked to wait outside and to maintain social distancing while doing so.
5. Maintain a record of everyone entering the property, including name and E-mail address or cell phone number.
COVID19 is “here to stay” – we must adapt
The Economist recently published – COVID 19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt :
“The worst is to come. Based on research in 84 countries, a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reckons that…without a medical breakthrough, the total number of cases will climb to 200m-600m by spring 2021.”
We cannot just return to “business as usual” as the battle against this pandemic is far from over.
Protecting buyers and sellers from unnecessary public exposure and utilizing current technology to present a virtual buying experience is now a necessary standard of practice – not just an option.
While our local market is now pushed to pivot in this direction, it’s long overdue in terms of providing the highest level of service to our clients.
Home buying is a journey – not a transaction
I provide information, support, advise and guidance from early exploration of the market through negotiations and closing as my personal standard of practice. Sometimes the answer is to not buy, which is perfectly fine. It’s all about what’s best for you!
The rush to provide virtual Open Houses has been a push to generate “leads” or meet prospective buyers. Open Houses have always been more of a networking opportunity for the agent than a true selling tool for the home owner. Virtual Open Houses provide marketing exposure for the agent but present an awkward experience for buyers.
Virtual Home Buying Service
Using virtual selling expertise, I create video walk throughs of properties throughout the home buying process to narrow down selections and fine tune the home search for my clients. That way, the showings we book in person are in reality 2nd showings. This saves time, protects home buyers and sellers from unnecessary exposure and streamlines the home buying process.
Open House Signs – an antique?
When I sold luxury real estate on Kauai, my open house signs were often stolen and used for fighting rooster sheds, an illegal but popular local sport.
One way of repurposing them but not a big demand on the Main Line!
While I haven’t thrown my Open House signs away, they are in the back closet for now! My ‘go bag’ is full of video equipment instead.