Selling Homes in the Era of COVID-19

Under Market Analysis

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Written on April 1st, 2020

Yesterday, Cabin Radio posted an article about some of the challenges facing Yellowknife Realtors as they try to help people buy and sell homes in the current environment of COVID-19 and physical distancing.  In the article I’m quoted as saying the market has slowed substantially – which I’m sure comes as no surprise.  If there is a surprise for some people, it’s that the market hasn’t shut down completely.  There are a few good reasons for this that I want to point out.

3D Virtual Tours Have Emerged as an Effective Alternative to In-Person Viewing

There is no doubt that nothing beats an in-person viewing when it comes to showing off the unique features of a property, but in the COVID-19 world we’re discovering that 3D virtual tours have become, for many potential buyers, an acceptable alternative.  The 3D tour camera that we currently use, made by a company called iGuide, is actually our second.  There is a competing technology by a company called Matterport that we used for a while, and while the tours were even more detailed and immersive, they didn’t include a very good floor plan.  We find that iGuide’s side-by-side layout of interactive floor plan and virtual tour really draws people in and allows them to quickly determine if a given property meets their criteria.  And it seems potential buyers agree.  Our virtual tour web traffic is through the roof right now, and brokerages from one end of the country are reporting the same trend.

Teamwork Gets Homes Sold

At Century 21 Prospect Realty we’ve always emphasized our team approach as being something that sets us apart, but it’s at a time like this where the importance of having a cohesive team becomes even more obvious.  The reason for this is that many of our listing clients are delaying their plans to put homes on the market, so we have a growing list of properties that, although technically not for sale yet, would be available if the right buyer were to come along.  You might think of these as “back pocket” listings.  So we are now investing a lot of time in what we call our “Marketplace Meetings” – meetings were we comb through our personal databases, compare leads and clients, and try to act as matchmakers between eager buyers and prospective sellers.  Platforms like Zoom have made these meetings easier to host than ever, but none of it would matter if we didn’t have a great team of people who enjoy working with each other and are willing to pool their leads to get deals done.

A Picture is Still Worth a Thousand Words

3D virtual tours are great, but they still poll quite a ways behind photography as the most important aspect of a listing.  Although it’s a more expensive process, we’ve always felt that HDR (high dynamic range) photography is an irreplaceable tool.  It provides richer tones and gives the viewer a more lifelike experience.  It also allows for the outdoors spaces to be seen through windows.  With normal photography, the scenery outside windows is overexposed and washed out.  Fortunately for us, we’ve also got an extremely talented photographer, Joshua Sayong of J.Sayong Photography.


Social Media Matters

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis it can sometimes feel like social media is taking over our lives.  For a lot of people this can be overwhelming.  But for Realtors, not only is it simply a fact of life, it’s a significant opportunity.  We may not be able to be face to face right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our listings in front of you.  As a brokerage we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on trying to be exceptional social media marketers.  And thanks in large part to a few of our team members who are true masters of the craft, we’re well positioned at a time when social media use is skyrocketing.

At the end of the day, the real estate markets in Yellowknife and indeed across the NWT have seen a decrease in activity.  But because technology and marketing have come so far in recent years, it is still very possible to buy or sell a home in these conditions.  And the longer the current physical distancing guidelines last, the more time people will be spending in their homes which may not be perfect for them (a second family room probably sounds like a great idea to a lot of parents right about now).  If you fall into this category, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We have the tools, the skills and the team to help you.