How Technology Can Help with Social Distancing | Dotloop

Overcoming the Challenges of Social Distancing with Technology



March 17, 2020 | comments

8 Ways Real Estate Brokers and Agents Can Weather the Current Market Conditions

In these rapidly changing times where social distancing and frequent handwashing have evolved as the daily mantra, the COVID-19 virus is reshaping the way real estate pros hold open houses, list homes, transact, submit buyers’ offers and even scan documents.

Real estate has always been a highly personable interaction between agents and clients who are used to kicking off the deal with a handshake, driving together to the showing and walking the property together.

Yet as public officials advise people to keep a safe distance in their interactions with others, navigating this new age may require a little tweaking in the way we list, show and close deals.

Fortunately, there’s a wide array of real estate technology that can keep the transaction personalized while helping keep both the agent and the client protected.

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8 Ways to Keep the Deal Moving Forward Digitally

Many real estate brokerages are mandating work-from-home policies, especially for agents and admins exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms. The good news is there’s plenty of real estate technology to help agents stay connected with clients and manage the transaction.

1. How to Keep Communication Personal

According to dotloop integrations partner BombBomb, video in email can translate into an 80%+ increase in responsiveness among its clients. Make sure to include all the standard features like bedroom count and property size, open house details and your contact information, but also use the opportunity video affords to tell a story.

If you’re not familiar with BombBomb, here’s a great article to help you get started with video and email in BombBomb Academy

Some video apps like Animoto enable agents to deliver personable emails and social messaging in the form of slideshows, testimonials and other marketing formats using pre-built storyboards, drag and drop interfaces, and music. In addition to providing a great tool for video walkthroughs, BombBomb helps agents keep in close contact with past and prospective clients. Best of all, you can integrate it with your transaction management system to eliminate repetitive data entry and reduce manual errors while keeping your database updated.

2. Low attendance at your open house? Create a virtual walk-through.

A wide array of virtual and 3D tech options let agents and clients skip the in-person open house altogether. While a virtual open house can’t replace an in-home visit, tech-enabled tours help homebuyers make more informed decisions and narrow their selection.

Many agents are holding “Showings on Demand,” in which clients schedule virtual tours with video chats. Matterport, for instance, offers 3D virtual tours with 4K print-quality photos that can be posted on social media and published to Google Street View or embedded on your website, while Sky Blue Media offers architectural photography, floor plans, HD video and more. Another great, free option is Zillow 3D Home which helps you create an immersive experience where visitors can easily move from room to room and explore an entire home from their computer or phone.

Others are inviting buyers to tour homes using interactive FaceTime calls on their phones or Facebook Live on social to show prospective buyers listings in real-time.

When people do attend, take a sanitary check. Keep a box of disinfectant wipes in your car for wiping down surfaces and, if you’re lucky enough to find hand sanitizer, keep a bottle and hand soap in the homes you’re showing. Make sure to clean doorknobs, light switches and other commonly touched surfaces around the entranceways, kitchens and bathrooms.

3. How to improve internal communication

The most efficient real estate teams and brokerages rely on virtual office tech tools like Slack, which lets agents, admins and brokers chat with one or more direct messages or establish channels with groups of recipients. Slack can be downloaded on your phone so you can stay in touch when you’re out of the office, and you can integrate it with many other platforms.

While messaging tools are great, make time for face-to-face conversations — digitally that is. With tools like Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts brokerages and teams can easily jump on meetings in a moment’s notice. While digital meetings are not a new concept, there are some best practices and tips to consider:

Turn your camera on

70-90% of communication is non-verbal which means that our facial expressions and gestures say more than our mouths.

Implement stand up meetings

As our face-to-face time will continue to decrease over the upcoming weeks, keeping your team in alignment is critical. Something we implemented at dotloop a few years back are stand-up meetings, or quick, 10-minute huddles in which teams get together (physically or digitally) to touch base on various projects. The cadence is up to each team but for the most part, having one at the beginning and at the end of the week will increase collaboration and transparency.

Hold digital office hours

The current situation with COVID-19 is a fluid one with changes and updates happening every day. As a leader, having a set time where any team member can connect with you to ask questions will help ease concerns and drive solidarity.

4. How to stay organized and keep deals on track

Tech tools can help keep you, your admins and clients organized and on task. Digital board organizers like Trello help teams collaborate and organize projects into drag-and-drop digital cards to help visualize progress.

Another great tool is dotloop’s Task Manager, which allows you to keep deals moving by assigning tasks to yourself and other people in the transaction. For instance, if you need to get your client to get their house ready for a showing, create a task in their loop with a time and date prior to the showing.

Regardless of the platform you choose, it’s imperative that you stay as organized as possible to keep deals moving.

5. What are some great tools to step up your social game?

If you’re not already marketing with social media, now’s the time to start. A social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer can help schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram simultaneously to make it easier to build brand awareness and generate new leads, while an analytics section lets you track followers and see where they’re engaging.

In uncertain times where markets can be unpredictable, social media can play a powerful role if you post frequently with quality content that’s three-parts helpful buyer and seller information and one-part fun, inspirational and promotional posts.

Drive post engagement with visuals.

Any agent can channel their inner graphic artist with tools like Canva, an online graphic design tool that simplifies marketing collateral with a drag-and-drop interface, photographs, fonts and graphics to import or select, and an array of template options, like real flyers, postcards and brochures, specifically made for real estate agents.

6. What are some dotloop features that could help while working from home?

While dotloop is designed to streamline all online collaboration, there are some features that can come in handy during this time when many are working from home and social distancing is encouraged.

Mobile PDF scanner

Why run to the office or local office supply when you can scan any document with your phone? This handy feature allows you to scan any document from a kitchen counter or the hood of a car and turn it into a PDF. Once converted, you can add fields for signature, initials, text and more.

Rotate and split PDF

If you have a long document that needs to be separated into multiple PDFs, open it in dotloop’s document editor and use the “Split Document” option. Or if the document was added upside down, you can rotate it in any direction within the doc editor as well.

Text Messenger

Texting is how most people choose to communicate today and for many homebuyers and sellers, this is their preferred method of communication. The Messenger feature inside the dotloop app lets you send, edit and eSign documents via text. While you’re texting from the dotloop app, your clients continue to use their preferred messaging app. Also, to keep you compliant, you can export entire conversations and add them to a loop with Messenger.

Submit for review

Admins and transaction coordinators that are not currently going into the office but have to support multiple agents should really encourage them to submit their documents for review through dotloop. This speeds up the compliance process and streamlines collaboration without admins and agents having to set foot in the office.

7. Having unforeseen downtime? Use it for self-development.

Our current situation might create downtime for many real estate pros. However, we can choose to be passive or we can choose to invest in self-development. With all the online resources out there, this is the perfect opportunity to do some elearning. Here are some great online resources to get you started:

8. Move your office to your mobile device.

Connect your transaction system with your Google Suite to sync contacts with Gmail, listing appointments and showings with Google Calendar, notes in Google Keep and reports in Google Sheets. You can also video chat with Google Hangouts. The Google Suite lets you connect to the cloud to collaborate seamlessly with enhanced security, data backup and other recovery features.

What tips, tricks and general practices are you following to help move your business forward in these challenging times? Please share your comments below.