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Will more commercial real estate showings take place online after Covid-19?

24 June, 2020 · 7 min read·Covid19 resources
Will more commercial real estate showings take place online after Covid-19?
While we don’t know how, when, or even if life will return to “normal” post-Covid, one thing is certain: many commercial real estate showings will take place online for the foreseeable future.

Covid-19 has transformed life as we knew it across the globe. Businesses have had to quickly adapt to stay afloat during these uncertain times.

The real estate industry, and commercial real estate, in particular, has been greatly affected by the pandemic.

While we don’t know how, when, or even if life will return to “normal” post-Covid, one thing is certain: many commercial real estate showings will take place online for the foreseeable future.

But don’t panic, commercial real estate firms! With a bit of resilience, a lot of heart, and that can-do attitude necessary for your business, you can adapt to anything. And here, we’ll show you some tips and tricks to make your online transition successful and lucrative.

How do I connect with clients?

If there is one thing CRE agents know how to do, it’s connect. Typically, you would meet with business clients to discuss their real estate needs in person and establish a connection that way.

In light of Covid-19, where social distancing is a must, this is not possible right now. But there are still many ways to reach out and make a connection, even when you’re not able to do so face to face.

None of us know for sure what business will be like in a post-Covid-19 world, but being able to connect with clients in nontraditional ways is essential. This is especially true if social distancing turns out to be the new normal.

So how can you keep in touch with clients without diminishing your relationship while social distancing? Here are some options.

Connect via video call

Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and similar video conferencing platforms allow us to safely and remotely communicate with individuals and groups. Using these services is especially helpful for businesses that rely on maintaining close ties with their associates and clients.

Commercial real estate firms can use software like Zoom to make a direct connection with clients. You can discover what they are looking for from your business, as in, are they looking to rent or buy commercial property? What neighborhood are they interested in? What square footage is ideal for their needs?

Not only can you learn about their business needs, but you can take an opportunity during a Zoom call to express how you and your firm can add value to their business.

Using Zoom may not be as engaging as an in-person meeting, but it feels more personal than a traditional phone call.

There are many ways to work a Zoom call to your advantage, too. Just be sure you’re following best practices to hold the best Zoom consultations possible. Your business and your clients will appreciate it.

Spruce up your website

It is vital for a CRE company to have a helpful and attractive website. If you’ve been thinking for a while that your professional website needs an overhaul, doing it now is a fantastic idea.

Now more than ever, having a user-friendly website with stunning photos of your properties is necessary. Your clients may not be able to physically visit the properties you are responsible for leasing or selling, so use high-quality photos and videos, along with detailed descriptions, to paint a realistic picture.

Another way to make your website more accessible to clients during Covid-19 is to start an FAQ page. Current and prospective clients are surely wondering what steps your company is taking to make real estate transactions safe, and this is how you let them know.

Creating a useful FAQ forum is a handy way to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and address their concerns. Take a cue from conversations you’ve had over Zoom or consult your social media comments to understand what people are curious about. Take these common questions and add them to an FAQ page with your answers and other helpful resources.

These simple steps — putting extra effort into the photos you display and adding an FAQ page on your website — can help convince clients that your properties are what they need to thrive. It will also remind them that your business is always professional, prepared, and thinking about their needs.

Once the crisis is over and the need for social distancing has been eliminated, your website will be primed to attract the clients who are ready to close a deal.

Use social media to your advantage

You may not have the time to update your business website daily, but you should do so for your social media pages. Chances are, any business currently working with you or interested in doing so will keep a close eye on you and follow your accounts.

Keep the attention on your business by making the most of your social media presence. Regularly update your feed with pictures and descriptions of new listings. It’s your time to shine, so be sure that your images capture the best aspects of the property and that your explanations are enticing but realistic.

Make sure that when Covid-19 is in a downswing and businesses are ready to get back to work, your company will be in a position to sell, sell, sell.

Attitude is everything

CRE agents already know that attitude and presentation are essential aspects of securing leads and making big sales. But now more than ever, your attitude can make the difference between a successful real estate transaction and a failed venture.

Covid-19 has hurt businesses in nearly every industry. After the pandemic clears, businesses will need to be ready to hit the ground running. If a business has suffered a tremendous financial loss, they may postpone a major real estate move that had been all but certain months ago.

Deloitte Insights states that submarkets, using Manhattan as an example, have seen a 20% decline in new leases since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. The statistics in your submarket will vary, but odds are, you’ve felt the sting of a Covid-19 market downfall.

Post Covid-19, businesses will need to put their trust in CRE firms to make sure they are spending money to make money.

Ensuring a business feels safe enough to take such a big leap and commit to a commercial real estate transaction is part of your job. It always has been, but now more than ever. And while CRE agents cannot push and prod a client too much, offering encouragement is vital.

Consider all your past real estate successes. Harness that patience, confidence, and understanding to assure your clients that a post-Covid-19 world will likely be one in which “business as usual” is different but still profitable.

And when your clients are ready to make a major CRE transaction, your company will be the one they turn to.

Post-Covid forms

One of the most important materials CRE firms will have to help their clients thrive in a post-Covid-19 world are new forms for updated agreements. They will be designed to specifically address Covid and all its uncertainties.

Certain clauses that were once routine may not be feasible, even once Covid-19 cases have dropped and social distancing has relaxed. Though we may not know 100% how agreements will change, we can make some assumptions now.

Addendums and clauses pertaining to Covid-19 are being added to real estate contracts across the country. These acknowledge that both the CRE firm and the client buyer understand that the state of public health and safety is ever-changing, making aspects of the contract impractical. It protects both sides, ensuring no one is responsible in case a period of moving in or vacating must be extended.

This is not for an indefinite amount of time, of course. Both parties must agree to a fair period before financial penalty is imposed. It’s all about flexibility and not about providing an easy out should a buyer change their mind.

Some CRE agents are even creating forms for when it’s safe to engage in in-person showings of properties again. These forms are signed by yourself and any of the business people whom you show a commercial property. The forms certify that, to the best of your knowledge, neither you nor the clients have Covid-19 or have shown symptoms.

Obviously, this is to ensure all parties have the best of intentions and are not purposefully putting others in danger.

Other forms may come and go depending on your local government, which will develop regulations based on your area's statistics. And while many aspects of life and business are up in the air at this point, the best you can do is think of ways to protect your business and your clients from possible uncertainties.

Can B12 help my commercial real estate business grow?

Absolutely! It is our business to look after your business using a variety of means. For example, if you need a high-performing website with tools like built-in SEO and email marketing, B12 can help.

Using a model that combines AI plus human experts, we develop an eye-catching website that’s optimized for growth. You can add online scheduling, a blog feed, and other powerful integrations to help your firm connect with more prospective clients. We’ll also send you a monthly metrics email that summarizes your site’s notable performance highlights.

You not only have to think about what’s best for your CRE business, but what’s best for your clients too. It’s a lot to undertake, but the real estate business is known for its ability to weather any storm and readapt to meet the needs of the market.

If you are interested in learning more about leveraging your website and online presence during Covid-19, check out the B12 Resource Center.

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