During the COVID-19 health event, some things should change in your usual operating activities so that you can continue your real estate business, albeit in different ways.
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Modify Your Procedures
The people and the properties are still out there to work on, and a modified set of standard procedures will help you through your days and coming weeks. Let’s help with that.
So, what is the overriding rule here? It is for you to connect with people legally, efficiently, and safely. The best way to start that is over the telephone. Your telephone call systems should be supported by logical and comprehensive tracking systems, spreadsheets, file notes, and or database records.
Core Activities for You
When you look at what you do in regular sales transactions and activity, these ‘core activities’ below can underpin your ongoing real estate business and give it structure and progress. Let’s focus on sales and the elements of:
- Call systems – This is the ‘backbone’ of your real estate business now so set the rules here and build your daily activities around your call contact systems. New calls, follow-up calls, and continuing discussions; they are all individual processes to administer well. At the necessary level of approach, you can keep a separate spreadsheet to track your activities and progress. Follow-up will also be essential to holding conversations and moving discussions forward in client and negotiation matters. Keep your notes and your documents from all call conversations.
- Listing Process – Legally enforceable listing systems still need to there in all cases to allow you to charge your commission and get your marketing fees. The ‘golden rule’ is that you should not promote the property or negotiate without a legally enforceable listing authority that is signed correctly by all parties. To make that listing enforceable think about how you can do your property searches, any inspection of the property in preparation for marketing, and capturing of the instructions and agreements that you make with the client. Notes taken at listing time will help you greatly with accuracy and listing documentation. Photos of the property and audio recordings from meetings will help you capture all the facts ready for the promotion of the property.
- Methods of Sale – This is something to think about for your location and property types. Adapt to your location and property laws. Most’ sales at a price’ and ‘sale by negotiation’ will still be achievable remotely at this time. Sale situations involving ‘tender’ and ‘expressions of interest’, can always be done by regular date and closure process (documents lodged on time). If you, however, do auctions as part of your marketing processes, then you will need to think about how they can be done ‘online’ and legally so. Public gatherings for in-room auctions are basically out of the question now and for the foreseeable future. The legality of the sale process has to be there, so take steps now to understand how you should adapt the sale process to your local laws of property negotiation and documentation to suit these unusual and changing times. Establish your standard methods of sale for these changing times and your local property market. As you move through the sale process, take plenty of notes from meetings, telephone calls, and client instructions. You can still sell things, but you must do that legally in certain ways.
- Marketing Procedures – Use different promotional tools and marketing methods. You can mix and match to suit the property and the situation. The mechanisms of marketing to use now are audio, video, newspapers, online portals, professional photographs, social media, email marketing, direct calls, and SMS. The question here is what is your standard marketing approach using these tools and in what order? Who will pay for these marketing strategies? Set up a few alternative marketing levels and policy; that will give the client some choices in moving ahead.
- Inspection Methods – In your location, can you inspect properties with single people or small groups? The lockdown laws will apply in your state, so know what they are. In many locations, you can still undertake personal inspections. Social distancing laws will be defined for that process in your area.
- Negotiation Systems – This can usually be done remotely, and as part of that, you must satisfy local laws in the lockdowns. So, the rules of ‘offer and acceptance’ in a property transaction are the rules to meet here. Think about how you can negotiate a sale remotely via the telephone or in single (legal) meetings.
- Documentation Frameworks – Someone must do the documentation for a transaction in a legal form ready for signature. Decide whether that is you and or the client’s solicitor or conveyancer. When the documents are created, then they must be checked and then served and signed correctly. The email system can get the materials to the right people; it’s just that the signing process and documents return must be valid and enforceable in your prevailing property laws. So, there are some things to think about that. Reference to a legal person and or your local industry group will help you get the facts around the process of serving and signing documents remotely.
So, use these ideas to shape your standard procedures in commercial real estate sales. Your real estate business can continue and thrive through these strange times; it’s just that the operational matters now change.
As a final idea, the use of ‘virtual assistants’ as an online administrative strategy will also help you get the work done and lift your efficiency as an agent in commercial real estate brokerage.