Real estate agents put out virtual welcome mat in a changed market

It was setting up to be a banner spring, according to Dale Brown’s assessment of the Highland Lakes real estate market back in February.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“(The market) definitely slowed,” said Brown, owner and broker of Dale Brown Properties in Marble Falls.

It didn’t come to a crashing halt, but COVID-19 started applying the brakes.

“We have seen quite a few listings withdrawn or come off the market,” Brown said of some homeowners having concerns over people walking through their houses as a contagious virus spread.

Under COVID-19 protocols, agents often hand out masks and booties to potential homebuyers during walk-throughs, which are followed by stringent cleanups.

It’s obviously not the perfect scenario for buying and selling homes.

Yet, real estate agents and brokers are adapting, often with technology.

“You’re pushing more people online,” explained Zina Rodenbeck, owner and broker of Zina & Co. Real Estate in Marble Falls.

Rodenbeck and other real estate professionals are giving virtual home tours to prospective buyers.

In some ways, it’s more productive. Buyers, especially those living outside of the area, can look at several properties and narrow down a list of homes with potential for in-person tours.

Brown said, in today’s high-tech real estate industry, buyers and sellers have access to much of the same listing information that the professionals do.

As for the industry standard of attracting potential buyers — the open house — it is still viable during the current situation. Like tours, open houses can be done online. Brown held one over the April 25-26 weekend, mostly for other agents.

“We did a virtual open house this past weekend, sent out a blast on email to other agents,” he said. “Then, we did a Zoom presentation.”

Typically, an in-person open house brings in eight to 10 agents, but the online Zoom presentation drew 18 professionals to look at the property.

“So, that may be part of the future,” Brown added.

Rodenbeck agreed that practices put in place amid the pandemic also could work when things return to normal.

“I think you’re going to see more online,” she said.

However, the internet can’t replace the personal service a real estate agent or broker offers.

A good agent is key during all stages of buying or selling a home, Rodenbeck said.

The Highland Lakes real estate market has slowed, but it’s still moving, Brown and Rodenbeck pointed out.

“We’re still open,” Rodenbeck added. “We’re still at the office. Just give us a call or email us.”

As Texas eases stay-home restrictions starting May 1 and looks to restart the economy, some real estate offices might reopen to the public.

And Brown isn’t writing off the spring and summer market.

“People are still looking for homes,” he said. “I think there will be some pentup demand the next month if things loosen up.”

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the DailyTrib.com coronavirus resources webpage.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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