Realtors turn to tech to sell during pandemic

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Realtors have been forced to pivot as their ability to sell homes using traditional methods has been significantly hampered by the coronavirus outbreak.

Guidance from the Greater Regional Alliance of REALTORS suggests that real estate agents stop conducting showings and open houses as long as the Michigan governor’s stay-at-home order is in place.

Naturally, that makes selling a home difficult.

“It’s not going to stay like this forever,” Jody Ribbens, a real estate agent with RE/MAX of Grand Rapids, told News 8.

Despite the restrictions, she said homes continue to go up for sale and she said she isn’t recommending her clients hold off.

“With (potential buyers) at home, they have a lot of time on their hands where they can actually be online and looking at things,” Ribbens said. “It still is a good time to get those listings on.”

The timing of the governor’s order is unfortunate for the real estate market — right at the beginning of spring when activity typically starts to increase sharply.

Ribbens said she is thankful to have online tools available to help clients showcase their homes while potential buyers aren’t able to come see it in person.

“We have a lot of tools already that we’ve been using and utilizing to help us keep this thing going,” Ribbens said.

One such tool, called a 3D Tour, allows potential buyers to virtually walk through homes from their computer or mobile device.

Other sellers are using video to show viewers around their homes.

“You really can see a house today and know pretty much what it’s all about,” Ribbens said.

Realtors are also looking into the possibility of proceeding with home sales but utilizing a clause in the purchase agreement that makes the deal contingent on the buyer’s satisfaction once they’re able to walk through the home in person.

Buyers should not expect that the coronavirus outbreak will bring opportunities to get a steal on a house, Ribbens said. Instead, she sees the slow-down in the sales process as a temporary hurdle.

“We are still in a seller’s market and I don’t see that changing because our inventory is low still,” Ribbens said. “Once we get fully up and running again, I think the demand is going to be hotter than ever.”