The real estate market has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 crisis since March. With most people not leaving their homes, buying a new one can be very difficult, especially given the need to physically see homes and properties before investing large amounts of money into them.
However, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, based in Cold Spring Harbor, one of the largest real estate firms on Long Island, decided to take matters into its own hands. On May 3, the company marketed over 100 properties with a live event over the course of the day, virtually hosting open houses via Zoom. Brokers and agents were physically in the homes, using phones attached to Gimbal stabilizing support sticks to show houses to dozens of viewers who were able to ask questions in real time using Zoom’s chat feature. Chief Operating Officer Deborah Hauser said that this was the first effort of its kind on Long Island.
“We have so many buyers inquiring about properties,” Hauser said. “We can’t take the buyer into the house — we can’t take the buyers into the properties. We thought we would bring the properties to the public virtually.”
Daniel Gale Sotheby’s number one concern is for safety, she added, for clients, employees, agents and customers. “But we realize there is a need to do business, so we’re innovative enough to work on solutions,” she said.
The company took to social media the week prior, inviting consumers to sign up for virtual tours. The average home had between eight and 12 viewers, although some reached over 25, adding up to thousands of potential buyers taking part. Hauser said that many consumers went on more than one tour.
Associate broker Peggy Moriarty has been with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s for over 20 years, helping sell properties across the North Shore, anywhere from Huntington in the east to Manhasset in the west. During her virtual tours, she said she walked through the homes, explaining their most intricate details, as well as the surrounding property and locations. She also had two helpers with her — one to operate the camera and the other to monitor the chat.
At a typical open house, Moriarty said she would see anywhere from three to 10 potential buyers in a day. However, she had well over 20 people watching virtual tours on Sunday, effectively doubling the number of consumers. The virtual tours, she said, proved to be another useful tool in exposing the public to new properties.
“I think people are so anxious to see houses in any way they can,” Moriarty said. “This just gave them a new perspective on how they can do it.”
Ann Hance, a Daniel Gale Sotheby’s associate broker for over eight years, said she sells homes anywhere between Manhasset and Cold Spring Harbor. The attendance in her two virtual Zoom tours was tremendous, she said, with one house having 40 viewers at one time. People are frustrated with their inability to move into a new home because of the pandemic, she said, and these virtual tours gave them an avenue to move in the right direction.
“We’re living in this world of uncertainty,” Hance said, “and I think the buying public wants someone to take them by the hand, give them guidance, let them know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that we’ll return to some sort of normalcy.”
Moriarty and Hance agreed that virtual tours such as these will still prove beneficial, even when normal open houses can resume. Although she admits to not being incredibly tech-savvy, Moriarty said Daniel Gale Sotheby’s has done an excellent job of educating its employees on how to further their business virtually. In a business where brokers and agents are looking for any available tools to help others buy property, she said knowing how to show off properties remotely will be very helpful in the future.
“It’s just a different style of business,” Moriarty said. “We just keep praying and hoping for the best so that we can open things up for [the public], help them get their houses sold and help them to buy things.”
“I’m very proud of our agents and the company for being the first ones to do it,” Hauser said. “I think it’s going to be something that’s going to become normal in our business.”