Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic as a Commercial Real Estate Agent

It’s now more than 6 months since reports first surfaced that a new and infectious virus had been detected, with cases popping up across the globe. And as more time passes, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

We can’t simply sit tight and wait for things to blow over – not unless we’re prepared to wait a hell of a long time, anyway. Which is why many of us are in the process of figuring out how to keep our lives running as close to normally as possible throughout the pandemic while minimizing undue risks.

As a commercial real estate agent, my goal here is simple: to continue to sell and lease commercial real estate while keeping both my clients and our staff safe in the process.

Here are some of the areas we are focusing on in an attempt to do exactly that:

Tech & Marketing

The better your marketing, the less time you’re going to have to spend answering questions, and the more likely you are to attract the right people to your listings. Since many of us are still working from home and avoiding unnecessary trips out, I also recommend you make as much information as possible available online. Our team creates a website for every listing we have that includes photos, floor plans, a 3D walkthrough, aerial photos, property descriptions, and pricing.

The goal here is to provide potential tenants or buyers with as much information as possible upfront to help them determine whether our listing is a fit for them. Not only does this save time, it also minimizes the number of people we need to meet in person.

Client Vetting

Client vetting is something that seems to divide commercial real estate agents. Some, often the more experienced brokers, see it as a vital part of the job; an early time investment that pays dividends down the line by helping them sell more efficiently (and, therefore, sell more). But others will try and tour as many potential tenants as possible based on the logic that the more lottery tickets you buy, the more likely you are to have picked a winner.

I’m a big believer that vetting is hugely beneficial both to the agent and to the client, saving time on both sides of the equation. And in the COVID-19 world where we need to actively reduce the number of face-to-face interactions we have, this only becomes more important. This is an area where I think senior brokers can really help their less experienced counterparts.

Gaining Access to a Space

I’ve always been a big fan of good old fashioned mechanical lockboxes, and the pandemic has only strengthened that viewpoint. A lockbox gives immediate access to a broker or client and provides another way of minimizing face-to-face contact.

I would only ever give lockbox access to someone I know, and since the Las Vegas commercial real estate scene is pretty small this system works really well. The only real risk of using a lockbox is if someone doesn’t lock it back up correctly, but that’s an entirely different conversation.

Touring with a Client

Even before the onset of the pandemic, I had clients that preferred taking their own car when touring properties. Now, with social distancing measures firmly in place, it’s becoming increasingly common to see a convoy of cars going from property to property.

I’m okay with one or two people in my car, so long as they’re prepared to wear a mask while in the vehicle. But that’s a personal choice, and this will vary depending on what feels comfortable to you. To me at least, wearing a mask isn’t such a big deal – especially when I get to wear my beloved Las Vegas Golden Knights one.

Signing the Deal

We sign almost all our leases digitally through DocuSign, and our tenants are able to wire deposits instead of personally delivering a check. To be completely honest, there’s absolutely no need to sign deals in person right now, and with the technology we have available to us these days this one’s a very quick win in the social-distancing stakes.

Like everyone else out there, I hope COVID-19 becomes ‘old news’ instead of ‘breaking news’ as soon as possible. But until then, there’s no reason why we can’t continue to do business and safely service our clients.

Nothing I’ve covered in this blog is difficult or inconvenient to implement, and by following these simple steps you can dramatically minimize the amount of physical contact and the number of face-to-face meetings required to sell and lease commercial real estate.