Things are opening up. Emergency orders have been lifted in many places. Rules about masking, social distancing, and group gatherings are changing. If the pandemic taught us anything, it was, perhaps, how to adapt and pivot. Things are changing again as the United States reopens, but COVID-19 has changed the world. Some things aren’t likely to go back to the way they were. Now is the time to reimagine what your brokerage might look like in a post-pandemic world.
What Will Your Post-Pandemic Real Estate Brokerage Look Like?
The pandemic left fingerprints on all aspects of the real estate industry. Markets shifted as businesses struggled or soared. Many people looked for homes that allowed more space inside and out. People working remotely rethought where they could or wanted to live. Beyond that, there were changes in safety measures, client communication, showings, and office space.
Which of those changes are here to stay? Which do you have to make decisions about? For which changes do you need to make adjustments if they’re permanent instead of temporary? This is a great time to be re-envisioning your brokerage.
Working Remotely and Team Technology
Many offices closed during the pandemic. Meetings moved to Zoom, and social or other team events got disbanded or had to find other channels. Most of that happened due to necessity, but what will you do if your office reopens? How does your team feel about it?
Decisions about where work gets done have ramifications on team morale, productivity, and space needs among others.
Many brokerages are likely to mix working from home and meeting in person. If you go that route, start by asking: What worked really well with people working from home? What snags or challenges did you run into? Did you find good solutions, or do you need to figure out something new?
Some specific things to think about include:
- How much space do you really need? Would you have a better ROI in a smaller office?
- Are you happy with the tech tools you’re using within the office, or do you need to make changes or upgrades? Would your agents benefit from a better CRM? Do they have the 3D photography tools they need? Do they need training in online marketing?
- What about equipment for people working remotely? Do you need to update policies about communication channels, timelines, or professional demeanor?
- How do you ensure team cohesiveness or share ideas and best practices?
- How do you mentor new agents or provide necessary oversight?
One thing we’ve learned is that technology is essential, even in what may have seemed to be a personality-driven business. Making sure you’re keeping up with trends and options will continue to be necessary in the post-pandemic world.
The pandemic was isolating in many ways, so enhancing your team connection and communication is important. Tools like Google Groups™, Slack®, and Microsoft® Teams can be useful for official communications, specific questions, idea generating, or even as a virtual water cooler. Having a mix of virtual gathering and in person connecting, continuing to follow the latest guidance on safety, can be good for team morale. And whether you’re working together in person or remotely, celebrating successes and expressing gratitude for your team is always a win. That’s something that shouldn’t change.
Client Communication & Interaction
In an effort to reduce interpersonal contact during the height of the pandemic, use of client-facing technology grew.
Remote tools like electronic document signing can make transactions safer, easier and quicker. Some states allow for remote notarization for closings. Other states put emergency measures into place. If you put remote or virtual tools into place during the Covid emergency, make sure you can continue to use them.
As with all technology, you’ll want to make sure you’re: using approved tools for authentication, taking proper steps to safeguard personal information, and using tools that conform to legal requirements.
Virtual showings and open houses gained popularity. It’s likely these are here to stay, as an additional option to live showings and open houses. Virtual showings and open houses cut down on physical risks that can happen at a live event, such as somebody tripping and getting injured on a property. They also allow more people to attend and are great for people looking to buy from a distance. That said, what people see is more limited. You want to show the property at its best, but remember that you want the buyer to have realistic expectations. (Check out How to Avoid Real Estate Lawsuits from Virtual Staging.)
Cleaning and Health Measures
The pandemic required people to do additional cleaning at open houses, in the office, and of high-touch items. Guidelines for cleaning are likely to change overtime. Brokerages will need to adapt to any specific requirements, and make sure agents are aware of guidelines and requirements. Extra cleaning of high-touch areas like door knobs, light switches, touch screens, and pens may make sense even if not required, especially during cold and flu season.
Having hand sanitizer available at open houses or for office meetings, even if not required, is a simple health measure.
Note that rules on masking have changed in many places. Continue to monitor guidelines on masking and distancing. Any current restrictions may be lifted, but new restrictions or recommendations may occur if a new spike in cases occurs. Be aware that some people will choose to continue to use masks even if not required. Have a clear policy on accommodating client preferences for masking or meeting outside your office.
Cleaning and health measures may be requirements in some cases, but they’re also good customer service.
Protect Your Business With CRES E&O Insurance
One thing hasn’t changed with the pandemic. Solid real estate E&O insurance coverage is essential for your real estate brokerage. As part of one of the largest insurance brokers in the world, CRES has access to more E&O options than just about anyone else. Let us do the shopping for you and find you the best coverage for the best price.
In a rapidly changing world, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can get legal advice about changing regulations, new technology, or anything else that could put your business at risk? CRES E&O Insurance + ClaimPrevent® gives you access to pre-claim legal advice from qualified attorneys 7 days a week, so you can protect your business and minimize risk.
Contact the team at CRES at 800-880-2747 for a confidential discussion today.