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In a year that challenged businesses to rethink and reframe the way they handle transactions and safely interact with customers, real estate services company Weichert has adapted to not only survive but thrive in 2020, according to a report released this week by the firm.

Like all companies, Weichert had to contend with keeping its sales associates and customers safe. By utilizing a comprehensive array of customer management tools and virtual strategies, its sales associates were well-equipped to effectively and safely guide their customers through the homebuying and -selling journey while navigating COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and restrictions. As a result, Weichert is poised to break records and end with a strong finish for the year, the company stated.

“Overall, Weichert has come out on top in a most unprecedented year,” said Denise Smith, president of Real Estate Services for the Weichert Companies. “We’ve seen the best year for both our franchise and residential businesses in more than a decade, fueled by the effects of COVID-19 and favorable interest rates.”

January: myWeichert Launched

The year began with the launch of Weichert’s enterprise-level technology platform myWeichert, powered by kvCORE, to its more than 13,000 sales associates and affiliated agents across the country.

The myWeichert platform empowers associates with a suite of mobile apps and tools that automate their day-to-day lead generation, marketing and CRM activities. The company partnered with Inside Real Estate to customize the kvCORE platform for an enterprise-scale deployment and to seamlessly integrate with the Weichert Way selling system and Weichert Tools.

“In terms of automated follow-up, social media engagement and lead generation, myWeichert has been a game-changer for our agents this year,” said Bill Scavone, president and COO of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. “myWeichert has helped improve the productivity of our associates by letting them run and automate their entire business.”

April: Virtually Home with Weichert

The launch of myWeichert, before COVID-19 restrictions locked down the country in mid-March, turned out to be a prescient move, as the technology platform helped sales associates continue to stay in touch with clients and track new leads. However, with open houses and in-person home tours limited, associates still needed a way to show homes to their customers. Weichert responded with “Virtually Home with Weichert,” a bundled offering of technologies featuring virtual open houses, showings and other digital services powered by myWeichert.

“For Weichert’s sales associates, myWeichert and our strategic move to more digitally-based sales experiences couldn’t have come at a better time. We leveraged myWeichert and rapidly deployed new virtual tools to protect the safety of our associates and customers, while still keeping our business open,” said Carlo Siracusa, president of Weichert Residential Sales.

At the heart of the Weichert virtual sales experience is the virtual open house, which has received an overwhelmingly positive response, according to the company. Weichert associates hosted more than 89,000 open houses, both virtual and in-person, engaging with hundreds of thousands of potential buyers in 2020. In addition, with Weichert’s All Under One Roof SM program, where available, customers can complete their entire real estate transaction virtually with Weichert’s real estate, finance, insurance and title advisors, who work together to keep the process straightforward and simple.

July: Growth

As Weichert expanded its sales and marketing tools, it also grew its salesforce. In July, Absolute Realty, LLC joined the fold and now operates in Springfield, PA as the company-owned office of Weichert, Realtors. The acquisition more than doubles the company’s presence in the area.

Meanwhile, Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. continued to increase its footprint despite the pandemic, adding 30 new offices since the start of the year, bringing the total up to 370 offices in 41 states. Five more offices are slated to come online in the next couple months, as independent brokerages continued to recognize the value in leveraging Weichert technology, marketing, and coaching support to compete and grow.

“I’m extremely proud of the way our team has handled this transition into a remote work atmosphere and the success we’ve had under such tough circumstances,” said Scavone. “Our ability to thrive is a testament to the talent of our team, as well as the unique value we offer to current and prospective franchisees. The emphasis we place on providing a strong support system for each of our affiliates has proven to be extremely valuable as we navigate through this pandemic together.”

December: Strong Finish

As the company expanded, so did the opportunities for new sales, thanks in large part to historically low interest rates, which remain around 3.0 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, depending upon the borrower’s credit score, down payment and other factors. Since July, Weichert offices have reported strong interest from dual-career, urban households with children as they searched for seclusion and space in the suburbs. Weichert offices also are seeing increasing interest from buyers who want to take advantage of the low rates to purchase second homes, mostly in the mountains and coastal areas.

As 2020 draws to a close, homebuyers continue to migrate from large cities and sellers continue to cash in thanks to a flourishing seller’s market with low interest rates. According to Weichert Real Estate’s Smith, the usual December seasonality is not occurring this year. The company is reporting a sharp uptick in new listings, which is not typical for December, indicating many homeowners are realizing that there’s never been a better time to be a seller.

Weichert’s residential and franchise businesses have worked hard to recover from the COVID-19 downturn in spring and are on pace to exceed their annual targets, the company stated.

“We’re expecting to end the year very strongly,” said Smith. “Weichert is well-positioned for success, we have the tools in place to keep helping customers navigate the ‘new normal’ and the economic factors that have made 2020 an unprecedented year for real estate will continue to have a major impact on sales as we move into the new year.”

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