As soon as Jessica and Steve Poulos heard that Thurston County schools were closing due to COVID-19, they knew it was time to make a plan. “We’ve been in real estate long enough to know that if there’s a crisis going on, it directly affects real estate,” says Jessica. “We wanted to stay ahead of it and not be playing catch up.” The couple, who co-own Northwest Home Team, began strategizing ways to modify their services to keep clients and their staff safe.
As stressful as COVID-19 is for all of us, it’s even more so for those in the middle of buying or selling a home. It’s hard to shelter in place when your place isn’t yet established, Poulos notes. “We have a lot of people who need homes and they don’t have a choice,” she explains. “Maybe their rental is up or they’re relocating. Not everyone has the option of putting their home search on hold.”
The first step was meeting with their staff to create a game plan for the office. Any meetings that didn’t need to be done face to face would be done virtually. Because a lot of the company’s work is done with brokers across the county, the team also met with them to arrange ways to manage cross-sales. “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to make it a safe and healthy transition for people,” says Jessica.
One of the top concerns they were hearing from both buyers and sellers had to do with hygiene during visits to prospective homes. “We developed a ‘showing kit’ with gloves, hand sanitizers and Clorox wipes that our brokers bring with them,” she explains. “We’re also telling our sellers to leave closet doors open and practice ways to limit the number of things people are touching in their homes.”
Additionally, Northwest Home Team has teamed up with a local cleaning company to ensure that anyone moving into a home during the crisis will have their home deep cleaned. “It’s just so they can be worry-free,” says Jessica.
Clients can now do virtual home tours using Facetime or video and many meetings have been moved online. The company offers e-signatures, online transaction management for viewing and downloading documents, and Electronic Earnest Money Deposits. Zoom meetings allow brokers to participate from around the county. “We want people to know that if you have a pending contract and a closing date, we’re operating at full speed to get you smoothly to that closing date,” says Jessica.
Another service they offer is in-home notary signatures so that clients can get documents signed without having to go anywhere
Within the company’s building, the office is sanitized every hour and hand sanitizer is available in multiple places. Staff is encouraging their clients to follow the same protocols in their homes. Everyone seems to appreciate the extra effort, according to Jessica.
“There’s a lot of stress going on in our community as a whole, but I think it helps when you have someone in the driver’s seat saying, ‘This is what we’re going to do and don’t worry, we’re going to keep you safe,’” she says. “There are still a lot of ways to sign documents.”
Learn more at the Northwest Home Team website or by calling 360-529-0992.