Covid-19 restrictions have presented new challenges to every industry in Ontario, as businesses work to adapt their operations to be able to conduct business in as normal a fashion as possible. The real estate industry is no different; people still want to buy and sell homes, and that has meant some adjustments for agents whose success has often relied on their ability to build strong interpersonal client relationships.
“Real estate agents are relying more on emails and phone calls,” said Sara Laepple, Sales Manager at Freure Homes. “It’s hard to get that face to face interaction today. It is a challenge. Most agents would be relying on their customer service skills to gain client trust. Now 90 per cent of the work is done online.”
Making a major purchase like a home over email may be practical in a time of social distancing; however, there is a generational difference in the comfort level of completing the transaction digitally, according to Laepple.
“A lot of people have been doing this online for the past couple of years so it’s nothing new,” she said. “Using DocuSign is something we’ve learned to adapt to. The younger generation is moving forward with it. They accept it. For the older generation, a lot of people are still coming in.”
Consumer confidence has been building as of late as many see that companies and individuals can operate in a safe and cautious manner with regards to the virus. Businesses have updated policies and operating procedures so homebuyers and sellers are comfortable and staying safe. With the public adapting to the circumstances, things will get easier.
To ensure the market continues to flourish, real estate organizations have implemented practical solutions for both home shopping and moving in.
To accommodate buyers practising social distancing, Freure Homes offers virtual iGuide tours via their website and personalized appointments with agents who respect all distancing measures. To ensure buyers are met with a clean and sanitary environment upon taking possession of their new home purchase, Freure Homes sends in a team to clean and disinfect all properties before moving in. As for the key transfer, Laepple says they’ve eliminated the process of transferring through lawyers and instead opted for a no-contact delivery process upon closing.
Given the ongoing uncertainty around the COVID crisis, Laepple says such measures are all part of the new realities of enhanced customer service.
“If our homeowners have any questions, they can always reach out to us by phone or email. We understand moving into a new home is a little challenging. Mortgage approvals, scheduling movers, signing all the closing documents. We try to make the move-in process a little easier.”
As for the current state of the housing market, Laepple says there’s a reason for optimism.
“The market seems to be staying on track. We didn’t really get our usual spring market. Usually, we start selling more in February. But it looks like things are on track for our summer and late fall market.”