When Deana Popovic realized that things were shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first thing that went through her mind was how could she make sure any clients who had just purchased a home still felt confident that things weren't falling apart.

The Chestnut Park realtor found herself calling her clients a lot and checking in to assuage their fears a lot in those early days. In the beginning, people were really scared. But, Popovic says, as people have learned to cope with this new reality, she has been able to find success by employing COVID-specific sales strategies.

What are your strategies for selling during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

During COVID-19, when you're selling a property, you can't use a one-size-fits-all solution because every property is unique. The one commonality is you want to get as many eyes on the property as possible, but in a methodical way.

The realities of COVID-19 mean there are fewer buyers and sellers in the market, so a recent strategy that I've employed is an offer presentation. This means I list at an artificially low price to garner interest and then set a date when I review all submitted offers. In other words, I let the free market determine the price of a unit.

Having said that, I can't simply list a unit at a low price on MLS and just wait for higher offers. I work the incoming calls and educate people that are interested and separate the serious buyers from the tire kickers, especially for safety. I can't have 100 people through on a weekend like realtors did before. I need to really qualify people before I let them come through.

One thing I also like to do as an agent is provide relevant facts, such as comparable transactions in the area, potential uses for the unit for investors and residents, actual market trends, what's going on in each specific area down to the street, any future developments in the pipeline and what suite orientations are better.

READ: What Real Estate Agents Are Doing to Keep Showings Safe During COVID-19

Using my “price low” strategy, I recently earned over 6,000 views on Realtor.ca for 155 Yorkville Avenue. We were the lowest priced condo in Toronto for that week at just $399,000. I provided all the potential buyer inquiries with my relevant facts, rather than using a sales pitch, and then on the day of the offer presentation I received over ten offers. I achieved a sale price of $575,000 on May 21, 2020, which is over $1,400 per square-foot. Mind you, this isn't the highest offer my client received. They received higher, but they were conditional, so my client decided to go with the $575,000 firm offer because that's the one he felt most comfortable to accept. It started out as a situation where my client had zero inquiries and the unit had sat on MLS for a month, but we ended up selling the unit in short order while achieving pre-COVID pricing.

Pricing properties artificially lower is one strategy that will work in specific circumstances with specific properties. You need to be selective when employing it. For instance, with a high-dollar $16 million house in Toronto's Forest Hill neighbourhood or a $5 million condo in Yorkville, I'm not using this strategy.

To show properties, I'm relying on social media and technology a lot. In the beginning of the pandemic, buildings were not allowing showings, so I would go in alone. I spent entire weekends showing with FaceTime very thoroughly. I'd give people 30 minutes and show them every nook and cranny while taking a lot of pictures and videos. It's a little bit challenging, but I think by now people are used to the new reality.

Now that the buildings are starting to ease up and allow showings again, I provide a kit for everybody (with the Chestnut Park logo on it!) that includes sanitizer, gloves and masks. In the past, you'd bring a whole family to a showing, but now, the person who is buying is the only one coming. I also prefer if it's just me with my gloves opening cupboards and drawers if someone wants to see inside. I leave all the lights on, I leave all the windows open and I open things with gloves for them. Then, when they leave, I use a disinfecting wipe and I just wipe everything down before the next person.

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