Updated: Jun 20
Here are the top reasons why in-person or virtual face-to-face w/ screen share meetings are much better than alternatives for buyers for an initial consultation:
1. Better Searches
The top reason why buyers should want a face-to-face or virtual screen share discussion with a prospective buyer's agent is to acquire a better search faster. In the absence of visuals, things will take longer and the buyer won't be nearly as able to do things like drawing a map around where they are looking to buy. With remote desktop capability, available on Zoom, the buyer can do exactly that.
By having a visual of the search, it's also easier to go through potential properties together and help buyers with aspects of navigation like flood zones, with some cities/counties in SE VA having the majority of properties in flood zones.
2. See Pertinent Visual Details that Can Help Inform the Search Criteria
Whether you're excluding some areas due to crime map color coded designations, Niche's algorithym for overall zip code grades (though keep in mind that their algorithym may be very different than yours and that properties in lower rated zip codes can still have , tax rates, flood zones, or area around your job, it's highly beneficial to be able to see what you're looking at.
3. Faster Understanding
Rather than your agent needing to spend a lot of extra time explaining certain things, integrating visuals into the discussion can accomplish a lot, giving you a better understanding of something that the agent is talking about in less time.
4. More Educational
There are certain subjects that are much more difficult for buyers to grasp in the absence of visuals. With visuals present, buyers are able to learn more content faster. In addition to the search itself, I often go into a wide variety of other topics in my initial consultations with buyers.
For instance, I often like to quickly show buyers how to locate flood zones directly within MLS while setting up the searches for them, which is critical to know for many SE VA cities/counties, with some cities/counties having more properties in flood zones than not in flood zones.
5. Alleviating Agent Concerns of Catfish Buyers When No Prior Face to Face Has Occurred
While typically not applicable when an agent knows someone personally or when they've met in person, did you know that many agents frequently get targeted by catfish buyers and catfish sellers? These are people who pose as a buyer or a seller in an attempt to defraud the agent. It is such a major problem that some weeks I get contacted by more catfish buyers than legitimate buyers. None of the catfish have ever defrauded me of anything but time, but time is a precious commodity, and in the real estate business, you typically don't get paid by the hour as an agent, so time really is money that the catfish are taking from agents even if their fraudulent attempts are unsuccessful.
If an agent suspects that a buyer or seller is a catfish, it's not uncommon for them to deprioritize that buyer or seller vs those buyers and sellers that they know are legitimate, despite the fact that catfish buyers and sellers often supposedly have high budgets & are supposedly cash buyers. By doing a face-to-face, the agent has much less reason to believe that you are a catfish since most catfish buyers and sellers will never do face-to-face discussions, including virtual discussions. Face-to-face discussions are too risky for the catfish to get caught.
If you're a legitimate buyer but prefer not to do a face-to-face discussion, there are still some options to demonstrate that you're not a catfish buyer and get a good search going. The best way to do it would be to still join a Zoom session for a search creation (since Zoom is still much better than a call for legitimate buyers effectively creating a search and learning from an agent) and just not show your face while establishing ethos through any one of the following means:
Email me from a university, organization, or business account (most catfish use free accounts, i.e. Gmail accounts, as it costs them nothing to create a new account)
Reach out to me via social media from a well-established social media account with relatively public settings that have plenty of tagged pictures with other people on the same social media account who themselves have plenty of tagged pictures with others. I.e. https://m.facebook.com/adambgarrett/
Share a typical website with your contact info. i.e. both of the following showing my phone number and email
4. Share with Adam a better business bureau listing or established social media listing of your business (i.e. if you are an established investor).
6. Better Understanding of the Agent
Face-to-face discussion is an inherently more effective platform, especially when screen share can be included, than a phone call, email exchange, or text exchange. Part of your time putting together a search as a buyer should be assessing the competency, honesty, and knowledge of the real estate agent in order to better determine whether or not they will be a good fit for you. Without a face-to-face, you won't know as much about a prospective agent and they won't know as much about you.
Here's more related content:
Enhancing Efficiency of Meeting
Related Articles by Adam
How To Join Zoom & Screen Share On Zoom (including best practices like using a large screen with a webcam instead of your phone to be able to see my screen better)