By Katrina Creer
It may be the era of social distancing, but agents are embracing innovative – and some old – tactics to stay connected to their markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among strategies being used are digital video tours which are able to cross closed borders and reach potential buyers still in lockdown. There has even been a return to the trusty letter box drop.
NEVER WASTE A LEAD
An up-to-date database has become an agent’s number one marketing tool as vendors look to sell off-market due to the pandemic.
Betty Ockerlander from McGrath Epping and a member of REINSW’s Residential Sales Chapter believes a good agent ‘follows up and keeps in touch’ with prospective buyers and sellers. Her database now accounts for around 60 percent of her sales but during lockdown it was as high as 80 percent.
“There are still people needing to upsize or downsize or move because of work or school - they are getting on with life,” Ms Ockerlander said.
“We had all these buyers who had come from previous marketing, we hadn’t sold them anything and they hadn’t bought anything – it was pretty much recycling, going back through the buyers and utilising the database.”
With online advertising costing as much as $4,500 in Sydney’s northwest, some vendors are reluctant to commit to a full-scale campaign. Off-market campaigns allow sellers to test if there is good competition which may lead to a proper listing and in turn create more leads.
Braden Walters, Principal of Belle Property Byron Bay, has also been building his database through weekly newsletters and regular phone calls – even telling clients of other agent’s listings.
“If you are ringing people to just sell them something or get something, then the relationship will breakdown,” said Mr Walters, who is Chairman of the REINSW Residential Sales Chapter.
“My team will make a casual phone call every three to 10 days checking on how they are doing and what properties they have seen. We genuinely have a care to help them find something and if you do that clients will continue taking your phone calls.”
The agency is currently conducting pest and building inspections to assist purchasers make quicker decisions. In addition to digital campaigns, Mr Walters is among agents still favouring the traditional letterbox drop to advertise listing and results.
“We do it for every new listing and sale – it is very important for your local presence,” he said.
BE DIGITAL SAVVY
Agencies who do not have a digital presence risk becoming obsolete, warns Cathy Baker, Principal of Belle Property Killcare.
The recent closure of many local newspapers across the State effectively ended a popular way to reach new buyers and sellers.
Digital marketing can include setting up a user-friendly webpage, an email campaign, creating blog content and geo-targeted advertisements.
Ms Baker, who specialises in premium beachfront holiday houses, believes employing a digital marketing specialist is essential.
“I have to do my research and know where the buyers are coming from and how to get into ‘their world’,” she said.
Agents have also reported success with ‘walk-through videos’ captured by a hand-held camera/phone and posted on social media. This is in addition to professionally-filmed video promotions and makes prospective buyers feel as though they are taking a private virtual tour. It is ideal for those impacted by border closures or those who cannot attend open homes because of health concerns.
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
The current lack of stock, an oversupply of buyers and record low interest rates is expected to see a strong end-of-year market and should continue into the first half of 2021.
On the State’s Central Coast, there has been an increase of people looking for holiday homes.
“These rental properties are 100 percent occupied and getting the best returns ever – investors are coming back to property because they are not going overseas and holidaying locally,” said Ms Baker, who is also a member of the NSW Residential Sales Chapter.
Should the market become overcome with forced listings as a result of COVID19, particularly if regional buyers dry up, agents believe it is possible to stand-out in a flooded market.
“Take a different tack, “ Mr Walters said.
“If everyone is afraid to do auctions, then you have to do auctions or do different photography - you’ve just got to try something new.”