Each year, I spend quite a bit of time looking at Airbnb and VRBO listings, searching for a suitable rental house for our family vacation. The information available on these sites is very similar to what’s contained in MLS listings: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of the house, what’s nearby, etc. I dutifully swipe through every photo but I’m always left wondering. Which bedrooms are next to each other? Where are the bathrooms in relation to the bedrooms and the kitchen? What is the walk to the beach like? Are these photos recent, or are they from 2015? If only someone could walk me through the house by video, in real-time, my questions would be answered. I usually end up turning to the reviews to figure out if there’s anything missing from the photos.
Unfortunately (though with good reason), homes listed for sale through the MLS don’t have public reviews to add unbiased feedback to the listing, and, simply put, photos are no longer enough.
In a real estate market where home prices have skyrocketed, and many buyers are coming from out-of-state, more and more have been forced to make offers sight unseen. As a result, live video communication has become an essential component of winning business, deepening relationships, and keeping clients happy.
In fact, seventy-four percent of agents said being able to show their buyers videos of listings became more important since the beginning of the pandemic. Seventy-three percent said virtual tours became more important. I’ve been using video much more extensively to communicate with my own clients, as well as work with my contractors, property managers, and others that can be my eyes and ears on the ground when I can’t physically see the property myself.
The rewards of using video communication in real estate go way beyond providing information unavailable through photos (though that is a big one). Here are the overwhelming benefits of using live video in your real estate business:
Save time and win more homes for your buyers through virtual showings.
A new house that meets your client’s requirements hits the market at a price point that you know will make it generate multiple offers quickly. You send it to your client and they’re very interested but not available to see the home for a couple days. They’re also not comfortable making an offer without actually seeing the house first.
While they may not be available to see it in-person, you are. You schedule a showing, get your client on a video call and walk them through the inside and outside of the house while answering all of their questions.
Now, having seen the home, they’re ready to make a competitive offer quickly. Being the first competitive offer puts it at the top of the seller’s pile, which is very helpful when you have sellers who are happy to accept a great offer quickly and avoid having to continually get out of their house for showings. Your client’s offer is accepted. The buyer is happy, the seller is happy, and you’re happy.
Video conferencing allows real estate agents to answer their clients’ questions quickly through virtual showings, bring in another party (like a mother or husband or adult child) to a showing they couldn’t otherwise attend and, ultimately, get more clients into their dream homes.
Here is one tip to keep in mind. Schedule your video calls ahead of time with a secure meeting link, and be sure to choose a video platform that supports all devices (iOS / iPad OS, Android, PC, and Mac at minimum) and can be accessed without needing to download or install an app. I recommend SimplyOn. I recently spoke with an agent who had planned to give her out-of-town client a video tour of a property for sale. Unfortunately, she was on an iPhone and had planned to use FaceTime. Her client only had access to an Android phone. She wasted about 15 minutes downloading the Google Meet app, setting up a meeting, and eventually getting both parties to join - not ideal when you only have a 30 minute window on Showing Time!
Data from the most recent National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers supports the fact that many buyers are open to virtual showings. They found that buyers typically looked at a median of 8 homes and viewed 3 of these homes only online. In today’s environment, being prepared for virtual showings is worth it.
Help your clients understand and sign documents quickly by screen sharing.
Anyone who has bought or sold a home knows how many documents need to be signed at every step of the process. One recent study done in California found that average buyers provide 108 signatures and initials throughout the homebuying process and the average sellers generally sign or initial a minimum of 132 times.
Picture it. You prepare documents and send them to your clients via DocuSign or Dotloop. A few minutes later, your phone rings. It’s your seller with questions about disclosures, the specific language in the contract, appliances or fixtures they want to ensure don’t convey with the home, or a thousand other things. They have questions and you have answers.
Rather than going back and forth by phone, email, or text, save time by scheduling a video call to go over the documents after they’ve had a chance to review them. Share your screen and walk them through the areas of the documents where they have questions. When you’re done, you have assurances that they’ll be returning the documents to you quickly and you’ve provided an extra service to your clients.
Documents are confusing and, unlike you, clients aren’t used to the language used in them or all of the specifics of the process. Ease their minds and answer their questions by taking the quick step of setting up a video call after sending over new documents.
Set your customer service apart by offering weekly client video check-ins.
It’s easy for your communication with clients to be ad hoc. You respond to their questions as they come up, update sellers when you’ve gotten an offer, and contact buyers about their availability when a new home hits the market. This type of customer service is expected and necessary, but it’s not enough if you want your clients to rave about you to their friends. Keep in mind that 73% of buyers and 82% of sellers contact only one real estate agent when they buy or sell a home so you want to provide the type of service that leads to referrals.
In addition to the as-needed calls and emails with clients, propose a brief video call with all of your active sellers and buyers weekly. These calls are a great time to update buyers and sellers on the market (come with data!), share any feedback you’ve gotten on offers made or showings done, and get a pulse on how your clients feel things are going in their home search or home sale. Weekly video calls also serve to allow you to explain any updates you have for your clients clearly, drive deals forward and set yourself up as an industry expert.
At a minimum, your clients know you continue to work hard for them regardless of where they are in the process of homebuying or selling.
While video calls and virtual showings took off as a necessity during the start of the COVID pandemic, it has stuck around as an integral part of the real estate business today. In recent years, videoconferencing has become second nature for most people and its benefits in real estate became clear. Video calls with clients can help answer questions that MLS data can’t, speed up transactions, provide clarity on documents and allow you to set yourself apart by providing industry-leading customer service.
To learn more about how real estate agents are using SimplyOn from LiveSwitch and to try it for free, visit SimplyOn.com.
Ryan Gaus is Senior Vice President of Sales at LiveSwitch and brings more than 15 years of global sales experience, where he has focused on scaling early and growth-stage SaaS companies. Outside of LiveSwitch, he is a licensed North Carolina real estate agent and is the co-founder of a boutique real-estate brokerage focused on investor clients. He also owns and manages a portfolio of rental properties.