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The Rise of Commercial Real Estate Virtual Tours in the Era of COVID-19

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Marketing across industries has seen a huge shift to digital in 2020. This year has posed some challenges – and not just for commercial real estate (CRE) agents.

But CRE agents have noticed especially how their marketing needs have changed. They need to be more creative, savvy, meticulous, and understanding of prospects’ and clients’ changing needs.

According to a report from CBRE, there are a few ways COVID-19 has forever altered marketing in the commercial real estate industry:

Before COVID-19, office amenities were a large aspect of commercial property sales. Buyers wanted employee lounge spaces, workout areas, and dining areas. Today’s commercial property prospects look for good airflow, touchless tech, outdoor spaces, and “smart” building apps.

Before COVID-19, virtual property tours were a mere novelty – a really cool idea and nice to have. Our lives now more or less demand commercial real estate virtual tours. Shelter-in-place orders and social distancing measures mean virtual tours are a must-have.

Real estate agents and brokers must find new ways to get listings in front of buyers in a saturated market. While you may already use several approaches to your real estate marketing, virtual marketing is a little different – it’s more dynamic in the sense that you’re literally everywhere, all the time. Pivoting to a dynamic approach could include all of the following – and you may or may not currently be engaged in:

  • Brochures and pamphlets
  • Website and landing pages
  • Email and text blasts
  • Social media advertising

And, while virtual tours have currently replaced many regular, in-person tours, there’s still that percentage of buyers who, before they make a final decision, must physically see the property. Viewing properties in person is how a great majority of commercial properties are sold.

Before these tours can take place, you must communicate with the property’s current owner and ensure that proper cleaning protocols have taken place. Then either you or one of your agents will act as a guide during the physical viewing. Physical tours should be as touch-free as possible and not stray from a marked path.

Are Virtual Reality Tours the New Normal in Commercial Real Estate?

Well, as the pandemic has illustrated – it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, many states across the nation are experiencing their worst numbers to date. All this points to the fact that life might never return to the way it was before.

Many of the changes and accommodations we’ve made to get through life right now and keep us and our loved ones safe will most likely become etched within us and color our lives going forward. For instance, remote employment – like 3D virtual tours – was once a nice thing to offer. The ability to work from home and raise young children was a perk – today, it represents a vast majority of the workforce.

And this isn’t the only way life and work have changed. Companies that cannot offer remote employment might need larger spaces in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Those of us that never before considered having food delivered have likely turned to that as a replacement for dining out. Even once the pandemic is a memory, it’s likely we will continue to order in.

And equipment once thought only for the surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals among us – face masks – will never return to that status.

The changes that have occurred in the real estate industry are also likely to never reverse to pre-pandemic states. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Agents used to walk prospects through numerous commercial properties. That’s not only off the table now, but there aren’t many buyers who even desire that hands-on approach any longer. But can “create virtual tours” be the only advice for commercial real estate agents and brokers?

How Does a Commercial Real Estate Agency Adapt?

For starters, move more of your messaging – more of your overall marketing process – into the virtual realm. Automate more of your processes and tasks. You can use the data you glean to create metrics and analyze your approach – and pivot and adapt when necessary.

This data can help you in the online environment, but also offline. For instance, if you’re getting a lot of hits on a particular property, or a certain prospect is checking out multiple properties or floor plans, that’s your signal to reach out. They might be looking at commercial property, but they could also be interested in buying a home. We’re all human – and a bit of human contact, especially now, can make or break a sale.

But remember, marketing is only the first leg of the race. Crossing the finish line – closing the deal – requires adept negotiation skills. There’s a lot that prospects consider before actually making a purchase, such as:

  • Price
  • Necessary improvements, especially in regards to open spaces
  • Maintenance and upkeep
  • Concessions

By analyzing data, you’ll go into the negotiation phase with a better understanding of exactly what the buyer is looking for and how you can meet them halfway and close the deal.

That said, it isn’t easy for every real estate professional to adopt every single new technology there is. But once you embrace a new way of doing things, there’s often a tipping point – a point of no return.

For many professionals, the COVID-19 crisis has been a life-altering tipping point. It’s shown us the power of technology in real estate. It’s a convenience that spreads to many other industries and a convenience we can’t forget. Even though commercial real estate has especially felt the strain of the virus, it’s this pressure that will help you innovate, adapt, and become even more efficient going forward.

Wrap Up

Here at ProspectNow, we understand better than most just how devastating coronavirus has been for the real estate industry. We’ve been helping professional agents like you since 2008. There’s never been a time in our decade-plus of service that we’ve seen real estate agents so brutally hit in such a jaw-dropping manner.

Partnering with ProspectNow can keep you in-the-know, help you locate potential buyers, and give you the high-quality details you need to succeed in this new world.

Recommended Reading:

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

What to Look for in Software to Grow Your Property Management Business

Building Owners List: Finding Commercial Property Owners in Your Market

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