As 2020 comes to a close, not much has been left unchanged this year including real estate. As companies transitioned their employees to work from home, a change that may be permanent to some, buying a home now has a whole different look to it.
Many buyers have more flexibility now as to where they live, no longer dependent on commutes, and the features they are looking for in a house are different. Many buyers are now more focused on distinct workspaces, multigenerational homes and even home gyms. And as we’ve been sheltering in place much of this year, many buyers have become increasingly more comfortable touring a home virtually.
Here are five ways that REALTORS(R) can ensure that their virtual open houses in 2021 are successful based on the experience we’ve gained from this year.
No. 1 -- Use social media
Most people are active social media users, and most REALTORS(R) have already been using social media platforms to network and promote their listings. Using social media effectively in 2021, though, can make the difference between a successful virtual open house with high attendance and engagement and one that is a total flop.
Make sure you know which social media platforms your clients use and engage with them there regularly. To get the most exposure for your efforts, be familiar with the best practices for each platform and use them accordingly.
For example, if you’ve already been engaging with clients on Facebook or through a Facebook business page, look for new, creative methods that will get your posts the highest exposure such as adding a poll, tagging people or even going using Facebook live. Know your Facebook analytics and post during peak times. You probably already know this but it’s worth repeating, don’t just post new listings and open houses. Draw users in with more colorful posts and include some personal posts so that your audience will get to know and trust you.
No. 2 -- Stay On Top of Tech Trends
Don’t overlook the importance of having and using the right technology.
Technology is a key business tool, and having the latest and greatest will greatly enhance your virtual open houses in 2021. If you’ve just been getting by with the same tools that you had pre-pandemic, now is the time to upgrade. And a lot of technology is more affordable than ever as it’s been in great demand this year, especially video tech.
No. 3 -- Stage and rehearse
Staging has long been a key tool in home buying and selling but the methods we use for in-person tours may not be enough to showcase a house virtually.
First, you should familiarize yourself with the property. Take pictures and record test videos before you go live to ensure you have the right look.
Next, since too much artificial lighting can whitewash a space, find the best balance of natural and artificial light. Hold your virtual open houses when the house and property look their best on camera.
As the REALTOR(R) or listing agent, you want to look your best too. While the focus is on the house, viewers shouldn’t be distracted by your physical appearance.
No. 4 -- Strike a balance
Technology changes rapidly and because we’re using it this year, more than ever, be cognizant of technology fatigue.
The more people telework and watch videos daily, the more critical it is to make sure your virtual open house stands out. Even if the property is gorgeous, prospective home buyers may lose patience or log off as attention spans wane. Most people will not watch a video, even a live virtual open house, for longer than two to three minutes.
You should also allow time to answer questions and acknowledge feedback. If necessary, host your virtual open house as a combination of pre-recorded video and live broadcast so you can chat with viewers.
Showcase and detail the most important areas of the home. In 2021 that means focusing on multi-use spaces that can be converted into offices and green space. Kitchens and bathrooms have always been important, but think multidimensionally given the shift in homebuyer priorities.
These are a few important planning items to make your 2021 virtual open houses outstanding.