Show Clients Sincere Concern, and Other Things Brokers and Agents Can Do During COVID, According to the Pros

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The real estate sector faces a new challenge in the form of a worldwide public health crisis: the coronavirus outbreak. Discussing its repercussions to make sense of how the industry can cope, Lamudi launched its webinar series on March 20, starting with a discussion titled “Surviving Broker Business in the Time of COVID.” 

In this week’s episode, industry experts talked about “Continuing Broker Business and How to Invest in Real Estate during COVID.” Among the speakers were Dr. Eduardo Ong, President of Edward King Global Consultants, Inc.; Manny Florendo, President and Lead Broker of Philproperties International Corporation; and Michael Mabutol, President and Managing Director of Pinnacle Real Estate Consulting Services, Inc.

Facilitated by Nadine Pacis, Lamudi Academy’s Training and Development Coach, the discussion pointed out these strategies on keeping the real estate business going amid COVID-19:

Use Social Media to Network and Learn About Emerging Trends 

“Real estate, despite setbacks and problems, [it] will be and will always be a sunshine industry. Come what may, it’s very good today because we have a very effective medium, and that is social media,” Dr. Ong noted. He added that while the lockdown is in place, “What we can do is a lot of connectivity, networking, [and] browsing.”

In the previous episode, real estate pros likewise mentioned this strategy, noting that social media can be especially beneficial in getting in touch with clients and team members, as well as learning about emerging opportunities in the field.

Connect with Your Team

For Florendo, who leads a team of agents, it’s now more important to get in touch with team members, especially since most are relying purely on commissions. He appealed to broker-owners to extend assistance to brokers.

Remember, your team of agents are your most important assets in the company. They’re the ones nurturing clients and cultivating relationships on ground. It’s crucial that you keep them supported during these trying times.

Align Communication Strategies with the Broker Team

This is what Mabutol advised his broker team, encouraging them to sincerely ask how clients are doing. “We’re trying to avoid hard selling during this time of crisis. Be mindful that everyone is at difficult times right now.” He added, “Show sincere concern.” In the previous webinar, this strategy was also mentioned, especially emphasizing building stronger relationships with clients through various means.

Florendo’s priority is likewise connecting with property seekers, aiming to be the “agent of choice.” Empowering future buyers, he shared, “[We] give them comparative properties that they can choose [from].” They listen to the concerns of seekers as well, particularly those who are looking for some flexibility in payment terms.

Noting that reassurance is crucial in uncertain times, Dr. Ong said that he’s setting up a blog to answer real estate-related questions. “Make your clients at peace and let them know that you are still there. Lend them your ears and answer their queries,” he urged brokers. Dr. Ong likewise said that explaining the long-term value of owning a piece of real estate to future buyers will help in keeping them in the deal.

“This is the time for planting seeds,” Mabutol added. With limited movement, he advised his team members to do some housekeeping on their jobs. “When this is over, all you have to do is reap what you sow. Close deals, so to speak,” he said.

Maximize Technology to Enhance Your Marketing Strategies 

When asked what specific apps or devices they use for keeping the real estate business afloat, Mabutol’s go-to in terms of marketing is Facebook. But he quickly added LinkedIn. “Everyone’s so active on LinkedIn right now. We’re getting a lot of messages and posts.” 

Highlighting other platforms, he shared, “Maximize as well your website, Viber, and WhatsApp.” In terms of management, Mabutol and his team use Zoom, Facebook Messenger, and e-mails. Meanwhile, in the aspect of trippings, Mabutol identified virtual viewing to keep clients interested.

Dr. Ong likewise uses Zoom in meeting brokers and students virtually. “We are updated with the recent happenings in the industry, Covid-19, and the world.” Noting that these online spaces remind us that we’re not alone, he shared, “We are spreading our networks all over the world.”

For Florendo, he highlighted the importance of lead generation channels. “Of course, the number one pa rin is iyong mga real estate advertising platforms, like of course, Lamudi.” He went on saying that his team created images and videos and maximized platforms, such as Google Maps and Street View. Using Filmora, they produce high-quality content published on Youtube. As for the presentation of listings, Florendo’s team takes advantage of SlideShare.

Advice for Property Buyers

For seekers, all three industry experts agreed that it’s worth considering real estate investments despite Covid-19. Mabutol noted, “This is the time to look for opportunities. Look for that dream house. Look for that vacation house. Look for that income-generating property. They’re all online. Brokers would make themselves available during this lockdown. Take that opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Florendo shared that there’s a possibility that new sellers will emerge from the crisis, especially those who need a boost in securing businesses and mortgaged homes. “This is an opportunity for the agents and investors,” he said. 

He relates that his team works hard in communicating with previous clients to ask them if they would be interested in taking up investments should there be good options in the market.

Dr. Ong also emphasized communicating with professionals: “Always keep in touch with your friendly brokers and associates. Get information. Be updated.” Optimistic about the future, he added:

“This will be over soon. Nothing is permanent. We will be able to resume operations in a couple of weeks or maybe in a month or so. Real estate will continue to be a robust industry.”

Answering Questions from the Viewers:

Do you think pre-selling prices will drop with the Covid-19 crisis? 

Mabutol: “In a month or two, no. Ang kailangan nating bantayan ay iyong default on mortgages and other macroeconomic indicators that are affecting real estate industry, for example, interest rates and inflation rates. If there’s one subsector of the real estate industry that will be affected, ‘yun ‘yung tourism. Pagdating sa property prices, we don’t see any significant drop if this lockdown will extend for another month.” 

Dr. Ong: “It is only a temporary setback. We will come back and we will be able to stand again […] Real estate will always be there. It will not really depreciate, but it will appreciate after the lockdown.”

Florendo: “Siguro kung di naman tatagal [ang krisis], I’m sure ‘di siya maapektuhan masyado. But, kung tatagal siya, yes, the price will go down by form of discounts and good terms of payment from the developers.”

For someone who has experienced dips in the history of real estate, how long did these last and how long will it take for real estate to get back up?

Mabutol: “May dalawang crisis that we experienced for the last two to three decades. One is in 1997. We were able to bounce back in 2004 because of the emergence of BPOs and the passage of the Special Purpose Vehicle Law, encouraging all banks to unload their non-performing assets. So, meron siyang seven-year cycle. 

Then in 2008, of course, the Lehman bankruptcy, the AIG crisis, yung exposure natin is not that bad compared to 1997 because the fundamentals of banks are good. Our exposures are capped to 20 percent. I believe we learned a lot from 1997. […] Of course, it’s important to note that in these two crises, real estate was at the center of those crises. Ibang usapan [itong] Covid-19 crisis. This is just a temporary crisis for real estate, as we are set to bounce back once this is over. Don’t panic.”

Dr. Ong: “We have survived all of these crises. We had a crisis when the Asian flu came down. […] It is always nice and paramount to invest in real estate, because those who were able to buy properties during the Asian flu, they are now benefiting from it.”

Stay tuned on Friday, March 27, for the next installment in this webinar series, “Running a Brokerage Amid Enhanced Community Quarantine” on Lamudi’s Facebook page. Panelists include Kenneth Stern, Country Manager of RE/MAX Philippines, and Michael McCullough, Managing Director, KMC Savills, Inc.

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