Sheltering in place can put a crimp into buying and selling a house, even within a market as hot as Central Oregon. One Bend real estate firm is experimenting with a new way to interact with clients via live social media.
The Ladd Group rolled out its first series of virtual open houses Friday. Seven homes are being shown by agents via Facebook.
“We are doing this for the safety of our community while also understanding the very real need that some people still need to buy or sell a home even in this time of pandemic with COVID-19,” said Brian Ladd, principal broker for the Ladd Group, part of Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. The Ladd group works as independent contractors of Sotheby’s.
Ladd has six agents, one marketing director and one transaction coordinator.
“We planned to have a few dozen watching the home tours live, and hundreds can watch as desired after the event,” Ladd said last week.
“We want to keep everyone safe and following Gov. Kate Brown’s orders to work at home, stay at home.”
Live streaming is the next logical step for Realtors who have used virtual 3D tours, augmented reality and video walk-throughs as tools to engaging customers.
There is no large investment upfront. It can be as simple as an agent using a cell phone to walk through a home while chatting with buyers via Facebook Live. I Spy is another software that the firm is considering using.
“We are promoting it through social media platforms, online advertising and our databases,” Ladd said. Potential buyers would get an email from the firm notifying them of a life event, which they can tune into from their couch.
Here’s how it works:
Starting two to three days before an open house, Ladd promotes an “upcoming event” in its social media channels. This allows the public to register for, and be reminded of, the event.
Ladd will also cross-reference some 17,000 buyers and sellers in the Ladd Group database for any clients searching for properties that match the property that will be featured in the virtual open house and inviting them to join.
Friday, agents hosted seven virtual open house tours through Facebook Live and IGtv (through Instagram) in real time.
“During our walk-through we can respond to comments and questions from viewers as we tour the home,” Ladd said. “Once completed, we can direct-message all of the followers who commented on the tour and send them an e-book through Issuu (a PDF format of photos) as well as a link to our home videos and high-resolution photos.
What’s reassuring is that the agents and potential buyers are separated, so there’s no fear of spreading the virus.
Meanwhile, Ladd said he hasn’t seen home prices fall dramatically due to the virus outbreak and fears of recession.
“A lot of people equate recession to housing prices, but prices are generally controlled by supply and demand and there is a lack of supply in Central Oregon,” he said. Homes are on average only on the market two to three months. Further, interest rates are at historic lows, and if someone can get a home loan at 3.5% they can save upwards of $100,000 in interest payments.