Back to basics: 4 tips for success in a post-pandemic world
Agents are returning to tried-and-true ways of doing business, prioritizing relationships and embracing the tools and approaches that always worked.
- "Face time, not screen time," key to building client relationships.
- Knowing the market, especially your local market, is more important than ever.
- Sellers need more coaching (and reassurance) from their agents.
Real estate is all about people, but the pandemic forced agents to abandon their usual, and personal, ways of doing business.
Now, in a healthier 2023, they are returning to the routines, interactions and connections that they missed — and that always worked.
"We're getting back to understanding that real estate is a relationship business," said Gaetano Marra, a broker/owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Monroe, Conn.
And that means focusing on tried-and-true ways of building relationships, marketing properties and gaining the trust of buyers and sellers.
Get back to 'the old school'
Throughout the pandemic, agents relied on social media and email to connect with customers and showcase homes.
That is changing this year as the world — and the real estate business — has opened up.
"That space has been saturated with agents," Marra said of social media. "Now we're getting back to the old school, hammering the phone contacts and reaching out to five people a day."
Real estate will always be about face time, not screen time, Marra said. "People need people."
Robyn Erlenbush, Broker/Owner of ERA Landmark Realty in Bozeman, MT., agreed that nothing replaces picking up the phone and talking to people.
That kind of personal prospecting will be "key," she said, to getting your fair share of the market this year.
"We cannot control interest rates, buyer activity or seller motivation," Erlenbush said. "What we can control is how many people we talk to and network with on a daily basis."
Create buzz before listing
When the market was booming, agents were doing more off-market deals for homes because they didn't need to list on the MLS to get a quick sale.
Jessica Riffle Edwards with The Carolinas Finest | Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage Real Estate in Wilmington, N.C., noted how the market has shifted in 2023.
"Now," she said, "it's all about creating that buzz before a property hits the MLS, and making sure other agents know that it's coming before it is actually live."
That generates interest in advance, and also ensures properties can be seen by all potential buyers — which can mean more offers and a higher sales price.
"We saw so many homes sell off-market over the last couple of years that would have sold for much more had they actually come to market," Edwards said.
For buyer clients, Edwards constantly communicates with other agents, past clients and friends to find the right property before it hits the market.
Stay up to date
While the market has changed, staying educated — and educating clients — has not.
"Being astute and not only the most knowledgeable about the changing market but being ahead of it, and understanding it is more important than ever before," Edwards said.
Even after 20 years in the business, she monitors the market daily, keeping in mind that the national market averages shown in the media are a reflection of a whole.
Knowing what is happening in your local market, she said, "is more important than ever."
Marra, Erlenbush and Edwards all agreed that staying sharp about the market will define this year's success.
"Not all agents are the same and not all agents understand the market on a deeper level," Edwards said.
Help sellers manage a tough market
Agents are putting new focus on coaching sellers about pricing in the current market, which has been impacted by interest rates and, in some areas, the low inventory caused by would-be sellers digging in and staying put.
"Pricing needs to strategically reflect the comps," said Erlenbush of ERA Landmark Realty, "as an overpriced listing will be at risk of chasing the market."
Listing agents also need to get back to essentials like staging, professional photography and open houses, she said. "All the tools we utilized to market property pre-pandemic."
When working with anxious sellers, Edwards said it's critical to reassure them that they can sell if they need to.
"I think that sellers need to know, 'Hey, it's OK to sell, your equity is very high, you did well, and we can help walk you through what that selling/buying process looks like now and how it is very different than even just a couple years ago.'"
That can mean some tough conversations. And if you can have them in person, face-to-face and away from a screen, well, all the better.