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May
14

Scott Hannaman of Coldwell Banker Bain Offers Valuable Insights Into How To Run Successful Virtual Showings & Open Houses

Video Transcription

Aaron Geh:

I'm here with Scott Hannaman from CB Bain. They're doing some extraordinary things with virtual open houses and showings. And I really wanted to spend a few minutes with Scott discussing what they're doing, and hopefully they can share some thoughts and ideas that could help our other clients and potential prospects and anybody out there that's in real estate and is uncomfortable with doing virtual open houses or just exploring it.

Aaron Geh:

This content may be able to help them, get them over the edge to be more successful. So, Scott why don't you to give me a little bit of background on who you are real quick, what you do and a little bit about what the market conditions are out where you guys are.

Scott Hannaman:

So, in the Seattle and, well, I shouldn't just say Seattle, but in the Pacific Northwest, so basically Oregon and Washington, we have very similar situations where we've had stay at home orders from both governors. It's made it incredibly difficult for brokers to... Typically brokers like to network and they like to get out and see their clients and meet their clients in different places and do that type of a thing.

Scott Hannaman:

And open houses are a big part of that. And with the inability to actually have open houses, we've had to not necessarily scramble because fortunately our company was set up to do a lot of things virtually. So, we didn't really have to scramble too hard. We pretty much had all the tools in place to help the brokers out, but organizing the tools, getting them over the fear of the technology, working with doubts and that, to make sure that we were able to promote the virtual open houses properly, make it easy for the clients to find them, those were the big key elements for us.

Scott Hannaman:

And the thing that is most important with the virtual open houses, once you get over the fear of the technology and you get over the fear of actually being on camera and being a presenter is how are you going to promote it? How are you going to let people know that you're actually having an open house? That's the biggest question that we get from the brokers.

Scott Hannaman:

And so, our job in the marketing department is to make sure that we give them all the assets necessary to promote it properly, and then to make sure that they have assets that allow them to do a really professional job when they do a virtual open house. So, we've instructed our brokers, and each broker does things a little bit differently.

Scott Hannaman:

So, some brokers are really comfortable on camera and they're very good about getting a gimbal, and setting up their phone, and doing a walkthrough of the property on location. And what we call that internally is we call those the streaming open houses, where they're actually streaming a live video as they're walking through the property, talking about the property, doing that whole thing.

Scott Hannaman:

The challenge with the streaming open house is being able to interact with your clients if they have questions, that type of a thing. So, essentially what happens is, you do the walkthrough and then you come back and you answer questions. And Facebook Live is fantastic for that type of a streaming open house.

Scott Hannaman:

We have experimented with a lot of technologies in regards to doing these types of open houses, Facebook Lives and Instagram Live both seem to be the better technologies, they're the more easily accessible. Now, Zoom has been a big plus on our side, all of our brokers have access to Microsoft Teams and we've taught them how to do a virtual open house in Microsoft Teams. But if you do a live event in teams where you're actually trying to invite people outside of your network, it makes it extremely challenging to do a virtual open house, especially if it's by yourself, if it's just one person, because you have to answer the questions through chat. You don't get to have this type of dialogue where you're actually communicating with somebody directly with voice.

Scott Hannaman:

So, Zoom has provided that solution. And so, we typically promote Zoom with the brokers. They can set up a free account. They can do up to 40 minutes. Most virtual open houses don't last 40 minutes. Sometimes they do, but typically they don't. And especially with brokers that have practiced and done a few of these, they don't usually last more than 20, 30 minutes. So, the free account works really well on Zoom.

Scott Hannaman:

And some people have had security issue concerns, that type of thing. Zoom has a lot of documentation that's available to help you navigate those waters to make sure you don't really get yourself into any hot water. But typically speaking, you're not having 30, 40 people show up at these virtual open houses. Now, there are some brokers who have done an amazing job of marketing their virtual open house and they do get a lot of viewers, they get a lot of people showing up. Those are fantastic.

Aaron Geh:

What are some of the main ways that some of the more successful brokers market these open houses?

Scott Hannaman:

Well, what we do typically is, the tactics that we use is, number one, we make sure that they put it into the MLS. Well here, let me back up a little bit. Number one, we tell them that they need to start getting prepared and marketing their open houses five days prior to the actual open house. Because it gives them time to actually do the marketing that's necessary to make it successful. Because if you're doing an open house on Saturday, you don't want be marketing it on Friday.

Scott Hannaman:

You're not giving anybody any time to remember there's an open house, to even finding the open house, to market it because some people will open your email four days after you've sent it to them. It doesn't happen usually that way, but sometimes it does.

Scott Hannaman:

So, the way we market it and the way we instruct the brokers to market it is make sure it gets into the MLS, make sure that you're setting up your virtual open house so that it's on the property detail page on your webpage and Deltanet, which has been a big deal with Deltanet when you guys allowed us to actually add the virtual open house to the listing, the property detail page in the listing, and to put the add to calendar button on it, because that was a big problem.

Scott Hannaman:

People would know about the virtual open house, then they would forget about it. They wouldn't go through and say, "Oh, I got to set up the time to do this." And now that they can add it to the calendar with the Zoom link right in there, or the link to the actual event, makes it really, really easy for the brokers to do this, and for the clients to remember it, get it added to their calendar and then they just have the link that they connect to and they can go back to the open house.

Scott Hannaman:

We also require that they are sending out a broadcast email. So, the email blasts that we send out are, they're nicely designed and they're all set up, but they also have the add to calendar link on there in addition to the link to the actual event. So, if somebody just wants to save the email, come back to it, then click on the link and go directly to the event.

Scott Hannaman:

We also suggest that they, if they give themselves enough time to advertise it on Facebook. So, if it's an open house in a particular area, we have them go into Facebook, pick out a geographic area that they want to market to, set a budget, and go ahead and advertise that open house.

Scott Hannaman:

That's one of the beautiful things about these virtual open houses is that you can advertise it with just the link. If people are really preparing for a really, let's say it's a big event, a really nice property of $2 million, $3 million listing, and they want to do a bang up job on the virtual open house, we do say it's okay to go ahead and get some postcards printed and farm out to a particular area with that.

Scott Hannaman:

But if you're going to do the postcards, make sure you're adding the QR code on there to the actual event and you're doing it about two weeks ahead of time. We don't typically tell brokers to do print advertising or to do programmatic advertising because print advertising, it's hit or miss from a timing standpoint. And by the time somebody sees the ad, there's a chance that the open house has already been held.

Scott Hannaman:

Now, there is a caveat to that. There is one instance where we say, "Yes, by all means go ahead and advertise that." If the brokers are consistently doing open houses, we want them to advertise their webpage so that when people come to their webpage, they see all the open houses that are available by that broker and then they can just constantly go in there.

Scott Hannaman:

So, you could advertise something like that, but to advertise a specific open house, we don't suggest that. In regards to the types of open houses that the brokers are doing, we really have it narrowed down to two. One is just the streaming event like we talked about. And then the other event is a live virtual open house, which is essentially like the meeting we're in right now, whether it's GoToMeeting, whether it's Zoom, whether it's Teams.

Scott Hannaman:

And we suggest that they have a virtual tour, like a Matterport set up so that they can actually do a walk through with their clients describing the best features or the key features of the property, describing the neighborhood, doing all of those types of things. We typically tell them to have their web browser set up so that they have their tabs when they're sharing their screen. There's the Matterport, there's the property video, if they want to walk through that, there's the gallery of images, the property detail page, and potentially the map that shows them the neighborhood and any other information they want to share with their clients regarding that particular property.

Scott Hannaman:

The biggest thing on the virtual open houses is making sure that there's interaction with your client. And so, we are really pushing hard with our brokers to make sure that they're practicing. Get a group of other brokers, do a walkthrough with some other brokers, practice, practice, practice.

Scott Hannaman:

Some people tell you, you have to write out a whole script. We suggest to our brokers, just get your bullet points for each room that you've got. Here's the key features of that room. Have the bullet points down and get used to just winging it because that's what people want to see. They want to get to know the broker. That's how we do it.

Aaron Geh:

Awesome. So tell me now, that's how you do it. Now, what kind of success have you had? I mean, this is extraordinary success, right?

Scott Hannaman:

Yeah. We're seeing a lot of brokers. It's interesting because the brokers that are willing to put the time into it and do the work, that are actually want to be real estate brokers, they have been extremely excited about this opportunity and they have just jumped all over it.

Scott Hannaman:

I mean, we have brokers that are doing two or three virtual opens a week. And we've had some brokers that have told us that they've had up to 80 people attend in one of their virtual open houses, which is amazing. I don't think that that's the norm. We have some brokers that do it one or two times and they get really disappointed and they say, "Wow, we've only had one or two people."

Scott Hannaman:

It only takes one person. It just takes the buyer. That's the only person you need. So, if you only get one person and it just so happens to be the buyer, that's fine. Don't get discouraged. It's one of those things where practice makes perfect. And we have brokers that are actually hiring videographers to do an actual professional walkthrough from a live event type standpoint. And it looks almost like HDTV, it's pretty interesting.

Aaron Geh:

That's awesome.

Scott Hannaman:

It's really cool. So, the viewership is really, really becoming much more popular. It's nice that you can add the links for the virtual open houses to Zillow because Zillow was, as we all know, probably one of the best ways to market a property on the planet. I mean, everybody's doing it. So, that's where a lot of home searches begin. The thing that is most interesting about our virtual open houses is we're still selling property.

Scott Hannaman:

There was a broker that we had, Curry Clawson, she had a virtual open house. She had two offers on it by Tuesday. She did the open house on the weekend.

Aaron Geh:

Wow. So, it's keeping your business moving and your brokers' businesses moving.

Scott Hannaman:

Yeah. We'd sure like to do more business. I mean, as everybody would, I think that the biggest challenge that we have right now is, in our marketplace, there were a lot of people that got scared and weren't quite certain how to list their property or how to get their property to the marketplace.

Scott Hannaman:

And we've had to really work hard to overcome those fears with our clients. But our inventories are really, really low in our marketplace, but they're starting to open up again. And this is definitely the season. The buying season is still strong. People still want to do it. Interest rates are still low. There's a lot of uncertainty with the economy the way that it is, but our marketplace is, I'm not going to say insulated, but it's somewhat insulated because the majority of the people that are purchasing properties in our marketplace have the ability to work remotely.

Scott Hannaman:

So, these people are still employed, they still have opportunity, they can take advantage of some things that a lot of other people probably can't. So, we're super fortunate in that regard. We've definitely seen some decrease in sales, but honestly, our brokers have really just taken the bull by the horns and gone out there and just done this.

Scott Hannaman:

And we've tried to provide them with tools and resources to make it easy for them, but a lot of them are bringing ideas to us too. And these are really sharp people. I mean, I can't say enough great things about them besides that they keep me employed. So, that's really a nice thing. No, they really do come up with some fantastic ideas and they work together. They share their information among amongst themselves, they invite each other to their open houses. That's another thing that I would strongly encourage every broker to do.

Scott Hannaman:

Even if it's a broker from a different brokerage, invite your sphere, invite everybody, because there's a couple of things that are going to happen. We had a virtual open that happened the other day, not one client showed up, but there were six brokers that showed up. All the brokers just sat there and they talked about, "Well, how can we do this better?"

Scott Hannaman:

And what came out of it was six brokers that had a much better understanding of how to do a virtual open house and how to do it better. And so, it's never a waste of time.

Aaron Geh:

So, the last question. I know you're busy. What's your take on how the virtual open houses and showings will, the importance of them moving forward once we get through this time that we're going through now? Do you think they're going to be the new norm or do you think they'll fall back to the way things were?

Scott Hannaman:

I think that at least for the next 12 months, until there is a vaccination or a medical treatment for COVID-19, and it may be longer than 12 months, because the more they discover about this thing, the more they understand they don't know about it. It is going to be the norm. It's not going away. And I think people are okay with that. The people, the buyers, sellers are warming up to the idea of being able to sit in their living room with a glass of wine and tour 6, 8, 10 houses with a broker, ask questions, narrow it down to the one that they actually want to go see, pull the trigger on it, set up an actual private showing onsite and then go do it.

Scott Hannaman:

So, there's a lot of efficiencies that come with this. And I think that anybody that wants to peer into the future just a little bit will probably see that this technology is going to advance very rapidly. It's already advancing very rapidly. Virtual tours used to be something that were expensive and only a handful of people actually used them. Now they're becoming a requirement almost.

Scott Hannaman:

And there's a lot of new players. There's a lot of new players in the industry that are bringing new ideas to the table. Matterport's been the industry standard for virtual tours. And I think that they still are the industry standard, but there's a lot of new players that are entering that space that have some really unique things that are going to improve the way we do this.

Scott Hannaman:

So, the more we can streamline the process, the easier we can make it for the brokers to not only provide the tours and the virtual open houses for the streaming events, but to market it and promote it to make it easy for their clients to find it. I think it's definitely going to be the norm. This is here to stay. This isn't going to go away. Probably never. I think that the good old days of having an open house where you just stuck your sign on the street corner and point at everybody in the direction of where the open house was and you hang out on a Sunday afternoon hoping that people would stop by, I think those days are a long way away. And they may never come back to where they were.

Scott Hannaman:

There's a lot of concerns. If you're a homeowner and this is your property, and you're still living in the home and somebody wants to have an open house, do you really want 15, 20 people traipsing through your house over the weekend spreading, God knows what germs.

Scott Hannaman:

So, our mindset as a society has changed dramatically, and rightly so. And I think the more that we can use technology and the more efficient that we can get with it, the more it's going to allow us to do the things that we're really good at, the things that we can do. I don't mind having that extra two hours a day given back to me that I'm not commuting to work. That's not so terrible. I am a lot more efficient as far as the amount of work that I'm getting done.

Scott Hannaman:

Now, I'm a little stir-crazy, not going to lie, but things opening up and letting us get out into the mountains, and go fishing, and doing some of the things outside and socializing at a distance. It's survivable. We'll put it to you that way, it's survivable.

Scott Hannaman:

But you're going to get some players that are going to embrace this technology and they're going to be rock stars. And we've had a few that have already done that and they do such an amazing job on their open houses. They're very entertaining. They're actually fantastic to watch. So, I would encourage you guys to not only help support making sure that your brokers understand how to do the virtual open houses, but how to market them and then support them during them.

Scott Hannaman:

Pop in, join a virtual open house, go see what they're doing, give them a high five after it's done, virtually of course, but keep the energy flowing because this is a really good time to be working. We're all very fortunate that we can do the business that we do remotely. Imagine yourself trying to do this in the restaurant business. We're really fortunate. So, we got to run with it and we got to take advantage of it and make the most of it. So, that's where we're at.

Aaron Geh:

Awesome. Scott, that's great. Thank you so much. It's positive information. And hopefully some people get some takeaways from it. So, I appreciate your time and keep doing what you're doing.

Scott Hannaman:

Yeah. If I was going to give anybody any advice, do not be afraid of the technology because there's always somebody that's there to help you. Just embrace the technology, use it for what it is and ask the people you work with because somebody somewhere is going to have the answer.

Aaron Geh:

Thanks Scott.

Scott Hannaman:

Okay. Talk to you guys later.

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