Published: 30/03/2020 By Elliott RowlandThere’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the rules of the game for estate agency. The ensuing government lock down has meant that the vital blood line of of live valuations and viewings simply isn’t possible.
Combine that with the government advice and the general public consensus that is shying away from house completion, and it would seem to paint a grim picture for the property market.
But are there reasons to be cheerful? There are if you can react to the situation that we now find ourselves in.
There’s no doubt that one needs to look at one’s business to carefully manage cash flow through this, as yet unknown period of lock down. However, estate agents who are choosing to simply mothball their business and hibernate in the hope of making it through this period of uncertainty are missing a key element, and I would urge agents to think carefully about which elements of their business they choose to sacrifice before making a decision.
An estate agency is more than just it’s employees and the office they inhabit. It’s more than sign boards and customised car stickers. Your agency is a brand, a connection to the local community, an identity that has been built through years of hard work and endeavour.
So how does one maintain that connection without people on the ground or an open, active office? Well, there is one place where we are not confined, where social distancing doesn’t impact our behaviour or the interactions we’re allowed to make with others; the internet.
Your brand must still exist in this digital world. Your website is now more important than ever. Your website was always capable of delivering a message to thousands and reaching people in a way your physical branch never could, but now it is your only real method of communication.
The post lock down boom will see pent up frustrations in the property market released in a frenzy of activity. Weeks and months of social isolation will drive a need for a change of scenery. Vendor’s who were on the fence might find themselves accelerating their plans for the sale of their property, and currently for sale properties will be prime for completion by hordes of hungry house hunters.
But whether you are in a position to take advantage will depend on how your business reacts during the lock down lull. How will these potential vendors find the agent that will drive their sale in the future? How will the applicants looking to purchase know where to look to line up their perfect property? It’ll be through your website, through your continued digital exposure. By showing your audience that you’re still open for business, even if business isn’t quite the same as usual. It will be achieved by showing them that just because you’re working from home, you’re not remote.
Agents that hide away won’t be found. Agents who think their agency is no more than the people they employ and the office they inhabit, won’t be remembered by their community. Make no mistake that businesses will be judged on their reaction to this pandemic and who was able to see it through the tough times.
If you divert attention into one key piece of your brand then let the website be it. There is activity out there to harvest, but you must put yourself in a position to be able to reap it.
Can’t carry out valuations? Enable your potential vendors and landlords to submit their property media and key information online for you to appraise their home. What better way to prove to your potential client that you’ll do anything to get the job done.
Unable to carry out valuations? Let your property hunters know they can simply book a virtual viewing through your website. How better to show them that you’re working in their in their interest no matter what.
Want to know make sure you can still harvest activity in the market despite the lack of completion? Make sure your website lets people know it’s an option in this period of confusion. What better way to show certainty in a confusing market.
If you’re key to your local community, then show it by sharing the information that’s vital to your audience. Share on your blog the local initiatives and community spirit that have blossomed during this crisis. Become the hub of information that your audience is seeking.
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should start embracing your website, then I’ll share the following with you.
On the day the lock down was announced, we saw a 16% increase in property views across our entire website platform.
In the week since the lock down was announced, we’ve seen a 21% increase.
Despite the lock down, we’ve seen a 24% increase in the number of property views online compared to the same time last year.
If you think the British public has fallen out of love with property, you’re very much mistaken. If Homes Under The Hammer and Location, Location, Location have taught us anything, it’s that this love affair will continue through thick and thin. Whether your audience continues their love affair with your brand is up to you.