Three Ways Covid-19 Has Changed Commercial Real Estate Forever
Since Covid-19 appeared around this time last year, our lives have changed in many ways. Even with the adaptations and precautions, the virus still poses a threat to public health. Even as vaccines are being widely distributed across the country, the impact of Covid-19 will continue to be felt for years to come.
One industry in which Covid-19 has potentially changed the game for good is commercial real estate. The safety requirements and adaptations necessary to continue doing business have exposed some pretty big holes in traditional commercial real estate marketing, changing how we operate in some ways.
Let’s go over three ways in which Covid-19 has changed commercial real estate forever.
1. Virtual Marketing
Virtual marketing was already beginning to proliferate in the real estate industry, but Covid-19 has given it a huge shot in the arm. Many real estate agents and commercial property owners are turning to apps and platforms that congregate property listings and offer as much detail as possible about them. These platforms are now offering drone tours, pre-recorded and live-streamed video tours, 3D space renderings, photos, 360-degree virtual tours and refurbished floor plans for all of their listings.
As the majority of initial inquiries are now done remotely, clients want access to specs like ceiling height, natural light, square footage, noise level and more. By offering these details and a way to filter out properties that don’t have the specs a tenant wants, real estate marketers can bring a new level of specificity to the game, satisfying every last curiosity a potential tenant may have before they move forward with an in-person tour.
Some of these platforms even offer statistics on how much interest certain properties are generating, as well as other data points that can help sellers during the negotiating process and aid future marketing efforts.
2. Safety-First Amenities
Although more and more people are being vaccinated every day, with new strains of Covid-19 popping up, people will be taking precautions for many years to come. This means that tenants are looking for hygienic safety measures, especially in commercial spaces with frequent traffic.
Gone are the days of drumming up interest with communal lounges, fitness rooms, access to public transit and indoor meeting rooms. Potential tenants now want to know that a commercial property is equipped with high-quality indoor air filtration technology, touchless technology, building apps and technologies for remote meetings, ease-of-access features, outdoor amenities and a specific attentiveness to health and wellness procedures.
Having an outbreak of Covid-19 in your building or workplace can be a critical hit for many people, so it’s no surprise that these safety-first amenities now come at a premium.
3. A Complete Overhaul Of In-Person Tours
While in-person tours have been drastically limited due to COVID, they’ve not been entirely eliminated. Tenants now will typically pick a handful of properties to tour once they’ve already scouted them virtually. However, these tours are nothing like what we saw before Covid-19.
In-person tours of commercial real estate now require extensive, comprehensive planning designed around safety and limiting potential exposure to Covid-19. Before a tour is even scheduled, it must be coordinated with building ownership and property management to make sure it abides by all state CDC and state guidelines. A single tour escort will typically guide the potential tenant through the property along a pre-determined, clearly marked path.
While virtual tours should also be offered in place of in-person tours, in-person tours can still take place provided they’re planned with hygiene and safety at the forefront. Brokers will have to communicate these tour expectations to attendees and obtain required waivers from landlords and/or building owners prior to the tour taking place. Masks must be worn and social distancing must be practiced by all in attendance. The number of attendees will also have to be limited in accordance with local regulations.
Adaptability Is Key
For any industry that’s predominately people-oriented, some pretty drastic adaptation will have to take place by those within it if they want to continue to thrive. For real estate brokers, building owners, property managers and tenants, this means embracing virtual marketing and strict protocols regarding in-person tours.
For those who can effectively implement virtual tours, videos and 3D space renderings, the initial marketing and scouting phase of buying a commercial property will go over smoothly. Of course, building owners will also have to lean into more hygienic amenities and meticulously planned in-person tours as well. Should you master these three new elements of commercial real estate, you'll have no problem finding success and prosperity regardless of how long Covid-19 sticks around.