The lockdown diaries, day #4: You are now an online estate agent

Adriaan Grové
Mar 31, 2020 · 6 min read
Laptop, sorted. Headset for great quality calls, sorted. VOIP lines to keep your call centre active, sorted.

From now on, every estate agent out there is an online estate agent.

Let that sink in for a bit.

Well at least for the next 3 weeks right? Or this is what everyone is hoping for. What if this lock-down lasts longer? Then you would need to keep operating as an online estate agent.

Here is the thing, if you think the lock-down will come to a sudden end and business will return back to usual on 17 April you are making a big mistake.

The epidemic won’t disappear by 17 April, we’ve merely bought 3 weeks breathing space to plan for the future (I encourage you to read the post from Alex Welte for some more context). It brings many challenges for South Africa. E.g. how do you enforce social distancing in highly dense informal settlements? What will be the impact on the real estate industry? There are a lot of questions and no one has all the answers. For now, we need to think on our feet. If your business is small it is more agile and free from bureaucracy, use this to your advantage to implement new way of doing things.

Every business right now is trying to figure out how to operate remotely and keep the cash flow going. In blog post from Nic Haralambous he says that every business owner should ask 3 hard questions right now:

1. How deep is the damage to your business?

2. How long will the bleeding last?

3. What does the recovery curve look like?

Relationships are king, but content is queen

Traditional vs Hybrid vs Online estate agent…there has always been challengers to the traditional way of doing real estate and it sparked many debates. But for now, that debate is over and you need to work and show your expertise virtually. How do you do that?

Through the years we’ve hammered on the importance of investing in your own website, setup professional social pages and creating unique content to showcase your local area expertise. Social signals is critical these days too for website ranking and why we advise promoting your own website and not links from a portal. YOU are the brand, and the future of real estate will reward those agents with an effective online strategy that showcase their expertise and interact with consumers. Merely having a website somewhere in cyberspace is also not enough (but at least ensure it is responsive!).

We all know that consumers habits are changing but we will see an exponential change in the way people interact with businesses. This includes the interaction with agents. That square space on the consumer’s mobile phone is now the most valuable piece of real estate in the world and most will resort to virtual viewings for now. Do you ‘own’ that space?

A few weeks ago we’ve launched a Matterport 3D tour solution for only R800 per listing (which includes a social media promotion). We will continue this with our partners after the lockdown ended and already had plenty of enquiries now from agents who see the value and want to hit the ground running with this asap. Make sure you give it another look and at least offer a virtual tour per sole mandate for all your listings.

There are a lot of queries from property owners and tenants on the lockdown and we’ve set up a little guide in a flash on MyProperty:

MyProperty COVID-19 Lockdown guide for real estate

With our Flex website platform, you can do the same, and setup any content structure you want. Why not answer common buying, selling, renting and home maintenance questions from consumers? Why not make it hyperlocal and produce a little ‘ABC Real Estate market report for Rondebosch’ every month or feature some local businesses?

We provide you with these tools to edit content from your laptop or phone. The content integration you can do on this platform is limitless and we’ve compiled some simple ideas here.

MyProperty is built on the Flex Template Language platform, the same platform that now powers our latest Flex real estate websites since 2018. It is the only real estate platform out there that allows full customisation to any part of your website. Best of all, it is a cost effective solution for every estate agency, big or small.

Get your name out there. Social media platforms are great for interacting with consumers and portals is great for showcasing your agency and listings. There are many free and cost effective portals out there and if you are only advertising on one or two, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

I also encourage you to sign up at the MyProperty Membership Subscription page as we are slowly changing the way consumers and agents look at property portals. We will be opening up some more unique features for agents to showcase their expertise beyond the standard listing data that all portals focus on.

Agents can already showcase your neighbourhood expertise like this:

BTW MyProperty South Africa is free to Entegral clients and R99/month per office for external feeds.

Virtual face-to-face video meetings is more personal than a voice call. Why not give Whatsapp video calls, Zoom or Google Meet a try? You can easily conduct virtual office meetings too (We’ve been doing this for years at Entegral using Google Meet). Inter office communications? At Entegral we rely on Slack.

You can use something like Google Drive to store files online or try our Base system that provides unlimited file storage for estate agencies and is one of a few systems that is also mobile and tablet friendly.

I’m keeping my sanity in this lock-down by keeping active. Just like you I’m worried about the future and the impact on the real estate industry. Any impact on agents will filter through to service providers and portals. For now I encourage you to run around the house or do some aerobics or other activity as it helps clear the head and allows you to take a fresh look at everything.

Over the weekend I started to build a little trail around the house and we gave it a dry run on the bike this morning. There is a nice short climb and downhill that I will tweak a bit, but nice progress!

Keep safe!

The Real Deal ZA

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