Using Technology to Provide Superior Service to Out-of-Town Buyers

Military families are no strangers to moving. Those looking to purchase at a new duty station can spend countless hours searching for the right home. This can be especially challenging if they’re moving to an unfamiliar community.

Searching for a new home can be challenging if you're unfamiliar with the community.

Searching for a new home can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with the community.

If you’re in a position to help an out-of-town buyer, technology is a great place to start. Here are a few options for you to explore.

Pinterest

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s an online social media site that allows you to “pin” certain images, links and ideas to your “boards.”

You can take a look at some boards I’ve created here. Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular with real estate agents and homebuyers. In a 2013 article Pinterest was named the fastest growing social network.

You can create Pinterest boards for different topics that interest your buyers. Providing visual representations of your community in addition to helpful links is a great way to stand out as a community expert.

Bill Gassett an Ashland Mass Realtor had this to say: One of the better ways to help a relocating client who is moving into an area they are unfamiliar with is to really give them a good education. There is no question that a relocating buyer wants to learn as much as they can about their potential new surroundings. Some of the most important things that a buyer will care about in a particular city or town are schools, major shopping, restaurants and highway access. One of the better ways you can help a relocating buyer is to write local articles on these subjects and create a Pinterest board in which you can pin them to.

Here are a few board ideas that might interest relocating military buyers and non-military buyers alike:

  • Schools: Include a picture of each school, the grades covered, a map of location and a link to any credible school ratings.
  • Military/veteran services near your community: This list could include distance to nearest military base or VA hospital. You could even throw in a list of companies that offer a military discount in your community.
  • Neighborhoods: If neighborhoods have official websites, link to those or just create a link to maps and points of interest near each one.
  • Community Attractions: Locations such as local parks, sporting events and shopping centers.
  • Festivals, events and holiday celebrations: Pin community events such as festivals, 5Ks and holiday celebrations that are well attended.
  • Your current listings: Why not have all of your helpful information in one place? Current and potential buyers can stay up to date on your offerings.
  • Kid-friendly activities
  • Local utility providers

Regardless of which boards you choose to pursue, be sure that you are only linking to high-quality, verified content. Happy pinning!

Video home tours

There’s a lot of opportunity to provide your clients with outstanding service. One of the big ways you can do this with out-of-town buyers is through the use of video. Providing video along with or in replacement of photos gives the buyer a 360-degree view of the home.

I asked Rich Cederberg, an agent who uses video listings regularly, how video assists out-of-town buyers. His response was this:

Video listings, if done right, show buyers more than just a slideshow of still photos. Real video shot by a cameraman moving from room to room can show the space between the photos, or how the rooms of a house fit together. I frequently add voice over commentary that gives more information than I can fit within the limited character count of my local MLS, so buyers can get more information and insight into the neighborhood. Plus there’s no hiding ugly or outdated features in video like you can with still photos.

There's several ways you can incorporate video in your real estate business.

There’s several ways to incorporate video in your real estate business.

You no longer have to stand in a bedroom doorway, snap a picture and move on. You can walk into the room, open closet doors and look out the window. For relocating buyers, this additional view of the home could mean the difference between choosing one property over another.

Numerous options are available to provide video services to your clients:

Cell Phone Video. Want to give video listings a shot but don’t have thousands to drop on video equipment? Using a cell phone equipped with video is a good entry-level solution. Many cell phones now have the ability to take relatively high quality video. It’s a no-cost solution unless a phone upgrade is required. Starting with cell phone video gives you the opportunity to see if there is a desire for video listings in your market.

Google Glass. Wearable video devices like Google Glass can allow you to offer virtual home tours. Glass provides two-way communication so a buyer can ask the agent to pause on certain features or ask questions. Our very own Google Glass explorer Sarah Hill provides a great demonstration of this technique here.

Professional Video Services. The use of professional video services varies by area. It may be standard in a high-priced market and overkill in a smaller one. Check out what your competitors offer if you’re unsure of local standards. Rich Cederberg creates video listings for each home he lists. Check out Rich’s video listing for ideas. Another idea for a lower cost option would be to hire a student with a video-related education path. It may give them experience and provide you quality video at a reduced cost.

These are just a few of the ways you can use technology to provide superior service. What other methods have you used to assist out-of-town buyers?

If you ever have questions about the VA home loan, please don’t hesitate to email me at samantha@vu.com.

Video photo courtesy of flickr user Nicolas Boullosa.