March home sales activity across Virginia was strong, with sales transactions up 8.0% and the statewide median sales price up by 8.7% compared to a year ago. While signs of a slowdown in April and May are evident, many REALTORS® in Virginia are finding that they can continue to communicate with clients, cultivate new relationships, and complete transactions, even under the stay-at-home and social distancing directives.
Use of technology has been essential to the new way of doing business under COVID-19 restrictions. According to our April 24-25 survey of Virginia REALTOR® members, nearly 80% of members say they are able to complete transactions either 100% virtually or by using social distancing practices when in-person communication is necessary.
Nearly two-thirds of REALTORS® use social media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) to communicate with clients and advertise their business. More than half of REALTORS® have been using Zoom, WebEx, or other virtual meeting software. Slightly less than half (46.6%) say they have been using virtual tours. Fewer REALTORS® have been making use of live videos (28.1%).
While the use of e-signatures is common among REALTORS®, the use of e-closing technology has been less common, with only 20.3% of REALTORS® saying they use e-closing technology.
Technology makes a big difference in REALTORS®‘ business success. REALTORS® who have been successfully transacting business during COVID-19 are much more likely to be making use of technology tools:
- More than half of REALTORS® completing transactions say they have used virtual tours, but only a third of REALTORS® who say doing business is “nearly impossible” have used virtual tours.
- The use of Zoom and other virtual meeting software is also much more common among REALTORS® who have been able to actively conduct business. Nearly 60% of these REALTORS® report using virtual meeting software, compared to less than 40% of REALTORS® who find conducting business nearly impossible.
- About a third of REALTORS® actively doing business have been using live videos, compared with less than 15% of REALTORS® who have not been able to do business.
In order to be successful working with buyers and sellers and to continue building their business, it is important for REALTORS® to find ways to integrate technology into their business. While many REALTORS® here in Virginia have been making use of technology tools, there is some data from the National Association of REALTORS® that suggests technology use is greater among REALTORS® in some other parts of the country. In addition, there is more information coming out that another wave of COVID-19 is very likely in the fall. As a result, it is important to be ready to make use of technology to ensure that business can continue without serious disruption later this year.