Courtesy Matterport

Typically, REALTORS® hold open houses to attract a crowd. However, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and a new emphasis on social distancing, this home-selling staple just won’t do.

Realtors are taking several precautions to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. One of those precautions was the Alberta Real Estate Association’s decision to press pause on all open houses.

As a result, other marketing tools have become even more important to Realtors who are helping their clients buy and sell homes.

“One thing we are doing with every single listing that we are taking on since this pandemic is we are shooting it with a 3D Matterport camera,” said Justin Havre, Realtor and team leader with Justin Havre and Associates of RE/MAX First, adding this gives buyers a well-rounded sense of the space by creating a 3D model of the home.

“When people do request a showing, they will have already viewed the Matterport tour and have a high interest in the home. Applying this process will eliminate a lot of the people who just want to go look at houses. We’ll know that they are a pretty serious candidate to purchase the house if they have already viewed the 3D tour.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this, it’s unchartered territory.” – Len T. Wong, Len T. Wong and Associates

Virtual open houses, where the selling agent tours the home on video and provides their commentary, and Facebook Live sessions have become major assets.

“It’s about paying attention to what’s important to the client and ensuring that you focus on those aspects when you do the video,” said Havre.

That’s resulted in some transactions that have closed sight unseen.

“We have one closing this week like that and we closed one a week and a half ago – both of these buyers did everything over video,” said Havre. “We are seeing people utilize these things.”

At the time this was written, viewings of listed homes are still allowed, with the seller’s permission.

During these tours, Realtors are taking steps to limit the level of risk to both the seller and prospective buyer.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, it’s unchartered territory,” said Len T. Wong, a Realtor and the owner of Len T. Wong and Associates. “We’ve had to work with sellers being comfortable, buyers being comfortable.”

During showings, he says, sellers are asked to leave lights on and keep interior doors open to avoid unnecessary touching from buyers.

“A lot of people are having wipes and gloves at the entrance,” he said. “With sellers, when people leave, I’d wipe down the main areas.”

Despite all the additional precautions, Wong says interest rates are low and “we are still doing a few deals per week since this happened, which is definitely a bonus.”

He says there might be fewer people looking to buy a home as a result of COVID-19, but those who are still in the market won’t waste your time.

“Because of the risk/health issues, a buyer, if you do get them, is a very serious buyer,” he said.