By Joseph Wong
Let’s face it. Covid-19 has really put a dampener on agents’ business as much of their dealings is face-to-face, especially when it comes to showing buyers and tenants potential real estate.
The real estate business is already stressful enough given the slowdown, the economy faltering, the US-China trade war and the political uncertainty. And since the government’s movement control order (MCO) has been extended to April 14, the best way is for agents to roll with the punches and still come out on top.
So what can agents do if they, like everyone else, is supposed to be home-bound?
With the improvements in internet connectivity and software technology, agents can still reach out to customers showing their enthusiastic expressions and smiles when conversing with clients. They can station themselves at the home they are selling or renting out.
With phone apps like WhatsApp, Zoom or Hangouts, they can give clients a tour of the place. While the clients may not be able to be present physically, it is the next best thing as they can ask the agent to go around the home to show them what they want to see. By being there for the client, it builds trust as it shows that the agent is willing to give this extra service of a property walk-through with them.
There is now 3D mapping software like Matterport, which StarProperty offers, that allows clients to go through the layout of a property in a virtual setting. This gives clients a better ‘feel’ of the place without having to be physically there. While this technology has been in the market for quite a while, its adoption is usually among developers. But agents selling homes on behalf of developers can request the usage of the Matterport shoot to help them sell a place. If an owner of a development wanting to rent out his or her home, agents can still use the virtual tour for potential tenants.
Stepping down to the more budget-conscious, agents can make videos of the places that they are selling or renting out. While it lacks the 3d effect of virtual tours, it does offer clients some idea of the place they might be interested in. They can also link experts’ or influencers’ video clips of their opinion of the places that they have inspected.
There are many lawyers and legal websites that are offering their services online. Therefore it is easier to get the documentation needed for the agent’s clients. There are e-signing apps that are now available, although this is not widely used in Malaysia as yet. There has been some adaptation of digital signing with some banks, logistic companies and other forward-looking enterprises. One agent used this technology to sign on a tenant, whose signature was signed using a stylus via the handphone.
Let the fingers do the work
Since the agent is basically home-bound as well, they now have the additional time to check up each property’s history and background. It could be useful information like certain construction methods or materials that were used during that time is no longer practised or used. Such information can increase the value of the property. For example, the older styled bricks were better resistant again heat, so houses built in that era tend to be more cooling. Another is that a construction method used during that time was really good, but it can no longer be used in this day and age as the cost would be too high. So agents should let their fingers do the ‘clicking’ and see what useful information can be unearthed.
One thing is certain, the Covid-19 outbreak is forcing the world to change quickly, and agents will need the flexibility to adopt new ways of doing business is the way forward.