Agent Talks: Best Practices with Stephanie Bulcock & Jennifer Weaver | Lance Phillips

Agent Talks: Best Practices with Stephanie Bulcock & Jennifer Weaver



House with lights on and doors open

There’s no doubt about it, being in the real estate industry is incredibly different these days and the ability to adapt to this current normal is crucial. We spoke with Stephanie Bulcock and Jennifer Weaver, Founding Partners of The Collective, to get their best practices during these unprecedented times.

Revise the Business Plan

While only April, the old business plan needs to be revamped. Where can you tighten expenses, focus on what your virtual offering looks like and decide how your marketing plan shifts? Assess where your business comes from. If you do a lot of open houses, keep in mind you won’t be able to do nearly as many of those and they’ll have to be virtual. Consider what new prospecting methods you’ll implement to fill your pipeline. How will you meet new people?

Consider your communications. This is a challenging time for many people, and we must be mindful of the messages we are sending.

Remember Pearson’s Law: what you measure will improve. Track the daily activities that will drive your business. Set goals for the next 30 days across:

  • Prospecting and nurturing
  • Marketing and communication
  • Transactions and revenue

Being a Virtual Agent

Workspace and atmosphere:

  • Make sure you have a computer with a built-in camera.
  • Get a Zoom account - either a free account or a paid version for $14.99/month.
  • Do not stop prospecting. Continue filling the pipeline so you can be prepared once the pandemic lifts. We do not want it to feel like January, in June. Continue to make your calls (to new people, your database and follow-ups) and don’t be a secret agent.
  • Find new ways to engage with your sphere virtually. Arrange a Zoom coffee, lunch or happy hour. Amp up your social media or send video messages. This is also a great time to send more handwritten notes.
  • Use this time to get your virtual systems in place. Take note of what’s needed for virtual listing presentations and buyer consults.

Don’t give up. During this time, it’s important to keep working. Make sure to keep a routine and time block.

Take care of yourself and your people. Take care of your mindset; practice gratitude, do affirmations and practice meditation. Try to exercise and maintain a healthy diet.

Be of service. What can you do to help your tribe and your community?

Practice your scripts. We have different objections surfacing now and we need to be prepared to best guide and advise our buyers and sellers on navigating this market.

Contract negotiations are different in this market, too. If you have a buyer, find out what the sellers are really looking for, now more than ever.

Listing Best Practices

During our consultation we discuss the current state of the market, what essential business means and their specific situation to determine whether they need to list now, or if it’s more appropriate to wait.

Reviewing what this “new normal” process looks like is critical from pre-listing prep through the closing table. Even if your clients have listed a house before, they’ve never seen the process look like this. We talk through the fact that although the steps are the same, the execution of the steps, from how we show a house, to how we manage inspections, appraisals and closings, is different.

Create a virtual tour and post to MLS and to the Today Studio (Sellers > Manage My Listings). Record a Zillow Walk-Through.

In your listing verbiage, be sure to direct agents and buyers to the virtual tour as much as possible.

Set expectations for safe showing practices with your sellers. Ensure before all showings that they sanitize, turn on all lights and open as many doors as possible.

Agents should drop off a showing kit that includes booties, gloves, hand sanitizer and wipes.

We crafted a small sign reminding agents and buyers of our showing practices. We place it either on a clipboard by the supply box or tape it to the front door.

Set expectations with the agents that are showing the house. Add special instructions to Agent Remarks in MLS, and to Showing Time.

  • Email sample verbiage:
    1. Thank you so much for your interest in this property and for reviewing the virtual tours. We want you to have an enjoyable showing experience and protecting you, your buyers and our sellers is very important to us. Please be sure to follow our showing guidelines.

Showing Guidelines

  • Please confirm that the buyers and their family are not currently sick, have recently been sick or have been exposed (i.e., coughing, fever or chills and/or if they have been in close contact with anyone that has exhibited these symptoms). If the answer is yes to any of those circumstances, please reschedule the showing.
  • No shoes are allowed inside the home. Please leave them on the front porch. If for some reason the buyers cannot take off their shoes, we will have booties just inside the front door.
  • You’ll find hand sanitizer in a kit at the front of the house. Please sanitize before you walk in and before you leave.
  • Agents should wear gloves and open all doors, closets, cabinets, etc. If a client wants to open something, they should ask the agent to open it for them and not touch any surfaces inside the property (except handrails).
  • Grab some wipes and please sanitize as you tour.
  • Lights will be on and doors will be open. Please leave the lights on.
  • Only the final decision makers should be present. No children—they love touching everything—so we ask that other family members, such as children and extended family members stay at home or in the car.

Upon returning home, sellers should assume the agent forgot to wipe down doorknobs and light switches and should wipe down surfaces.

If a seller is hesitant about having their home shown during this time, we will postpone the listing or change the status until they are comfortable. Doing the right thing for the client is always the best course of action.

Set expectations for what a safe closing looks like during these times. Explain you will not be able to be present for the closing.

Manage expectations. Reiterate that this is a rapidly evolving market where things are changing daily. Emphasize your commitment to open and frequent communication.

Buyer Best Practices

We require that buyers have been pre-approved, a buyer consultation has been done and an exclusive agency is signed up front. This ensures we are only serving serious buyers that need to move.

Make sure they are following mortgage do’s (keeping their job, refraining from large purchases, etc.). If there is a change in their circumstances, they need to notify their lender right away.

During our consultation, we discuss the current state of the market, what essential business means and their specific situation (timing, lease expiration, other factors) to determine whether they need to start their search now, or if it’s more appropriate to wait.

If they need to be looking now, we discuss the “new normal” up-front. If they find a home online that they like, we will send them the seller’s disclosure and any virtual tour/video offerings from the agent. If they’re still interested in the home after viewing the virtual tour, then we’ll discuss a showing.

Gauge their willingness to participate in a real-time virtual showing. Many younger buyers are willing to do this and agents across the country are having great success and selling homes using virtual tours.

Ask the buyers if they or their family are sick, if they’ve recently been sick or if they’ve been exposed. If the answer is yes to any of those circumstances, we will not show them homes at this time to protect all parties.

Review the showing guidelines with the buyers in advance to make sure they understand how serious the situation is:

  • Please confirm that the buyers and their family are not currently sick, have recently been sick or have been exposed (i.e., coughing, fever or chills and/or if they have been in close contact with anyone that has exhibited these symptoms). If the answer is yes to any of those circumstances, please reschedule the showing.
  • No shoes are allowed inside the home. Please leave them on the front porch. If for some reason the buyers cannot take off their shoes, we will have booties just inside the front door.
  • You’ll find hand sanitizer in a kit at the front of the house. Please sanitize before you walk in and before you leave.
  • Agents should wear gloves and open all doors, closets, cabinets, etc. If a client wants to open something, they should ask the agent to open it for them and not touch any surfaces inside the property (except handrails).
  • Grab some wipes and please sanitize as you tour.
  • Lights will be on and doors will be open. Please leave lights on.
  • Only the final decision makers should be present. No children—they love touching everything—so we ask that other family members, such as children and extended family members stay at home or in the car.
  • Stay a minimum of 6 feet apart during showings.

If we do show a buyer a house, we carry showing kits with us including gloves, booties, hand sanitizer and wipes in case the agent or seller doesn’t have anything out.

Lead by example. I make sure to follow my own showing instructions, plus any instructions requested by the listing agent or their sellers.

Once under contract, we practice the same guidelines. Minimize the number of people at inspections. I sit in my car or stand outside and stagger inspectors to minimize the number of people in the house at a time. Ideally, we’d conduct the read-out virtually with the buyer but if they must be there in person, we would practice social distancing if we are inside the home.

Set expectations for what a safe closing looks like during these times. Explain you will not be able to be present for the closing but will celebrate with them later!

For the latest information and best practices regarding your health and safety, visit www.cdc.gov.

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