“Social distancing – no. Physical distancing – yes,” says Mark Armstrong, CEO and co-founder of RateMyAgent.
While the property markets have been shaken by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Armstrong believes that great agents will continue to thrive as they maximise their relationship-building skills.
With social distancing measures in place, now is the time to focus on building social connections, according to him.
“Don’t get us wrong, we think the distancing laws are 100 per cent correct and everyone in the community should stay physically isolated to stop the coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading. However physical distancing is very different from social distancing, and it seems that people are also being more emotionally isolated and distant as a result,” he said.
Mr Armstrong says that it’s important to establish the difference between social distancing and physical distance.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has even shifted to recommending the term “physical distance” instead of social distancing. Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services now also uses the term “physical distancing” rather than social distancing, in line with expert advice to change the terminology.
According to the RateMyAgent expert, there are many ways to maintain a social and emotional connection while practising physical distancing.
“When we go to the shop or out to walk the dog we can still be social. While remaining at least 1.5 metres apart we can still make eye contact and say hello to people in our community. We can take the time to write someone a letter to send through the snail mail or provide support to someone in our community who may be struggling,” he said.
“And don’t forget we still have the trusty old phone, although, in this new world, the phone ‘just ain’t gonna’ cut it anymore.”
In order to continue thriving in the property market, agents must remember that it’s really not the matter of what you say, but how you say it.
After all, research found that only 7 per cent of communication is verbal while 93 per cent is non-verbal. “More than half of all communication is based on body language,” Mr Armstrong said.
Given these facts, agents are strongly encouraged to embrace virtual/videoconferencing technology to maintain their communication and build trust with their customers. If anything, becoming more emotionally connected with vendors.
The reality is video or virtual meetings are here to stay and will become the preferred method of communicating long after the COVID-19 threat passes.
“RateMyAgent’s preferred platform is Zoom. Its base-level service, which is more than enough for most of us, is free and has many advantages over other conferencing software,” according to Mr Armstong.
Other platforms, such as Google Hangouts and Cisco Webex and Skype, are also ushering in the “new normal” that is virtual communication in the property market.