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Terence Leung, left, manager of external relations and media, and Alan Tennant, president and chief executive officer, with the Calgary Real Estate Board. Photo by Wil Andruschak, Postmedia Content Works

Karen Rudolph Durrie © Postmedia Network Inc.

The real estate market — deemed an essential service — faced some unique challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic.

When business as usual was shut down, the Calgary Real Estate Board pivoted to support its members as they continued on by outlining protocols and encouraging innovative practices.

“Our members were thrust into a low-touch environment, which is highly unusual in real estate,” says Alan Tennant, CREB president and chief executive officer.

While open houses were suspended, CREB members introduced new approaches to property viewing, including embracing technology such as virtual tours.

Viewing homes virtually isn’t ideal, Tennant admits.

“The consumer still needs to see property and crush some carpet to make sure the potential home has that feel,” he says, but he believes that some processes may change, such as buyers looking at dozens of homes in person before making a decision.

To try and reduce the number of home visits, CREB members have perfected property screening, crunching a long list of prospective homes to five or 10 that best meet buyer needs. This has improved the showing process for both parties.

“Having clients going to dozens and dozens of homes is no fun for sellers, who have the right to enjoy their lives,” Tennant says.

Many REALTOR members have also created larger digital media footprints, increasing their social media presence and engaging the public through videos and podcasts.

It was fortuitous timing, then, that the organization’s CREBNow news arm was already undergoing a transition from paper to a fully digital presence when the pandemic hit.

“We had an actual newspaper with a circulation of over 30,000. During the pandemic that was going to be quite a challenge to continue production, so we quickly had to think of ways to pivot,” says Terence Leung, manager of external relations and media.

The fast move to all digital meant CREBNow could react to developing news, rather than wait for the next weekly edition.

“We could report quickly on interest rates and the hailstorms, having an article the next day on what homeowners could do,” Leung says.

The tone of CREBNow also shifted to more light and engaging, covering market news, but also featuring fun, attention-getting content such as The Hater’s Guide to Carpeted Bathrooms.

“We were very sad to lose the print publication, but also very happy to see it continue, especially in a difficult time,” Leung says.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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