New COVID-19 Features and Resources to Help Real Estate Agents

During these uncertain times of social distancing and limited face-to-face interactions, people are looking to alternative ways of buying and selling real estate, as well as simply understand their local real estate markets. Primarily, the Internet. 

Showcase IDX is the first real estate home search to release features to keep real estate agents and consumers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The COVID-19 outbreak will have an impact on U.S. real estate markets overall. This article walks through the new COVID-19 features and resources available from Showcase IDX to help real estate agents connect with future home buyers and sellers.

Why is Showcase IDX releasing these features and resources?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the real estate industry, we first want to reach out to the Showcase IDX community to let you know that our thoughts are with all of you who have been personally and professionally impacted by Coronavirus and COVID-19.

In recent weeks, we have been looking at ways we can help you bridge the gap until this unprecedented pandemic recedes and real estate markets stabilize. You will see more product enhancements over the next few weeks that should give you an advantage dealing with the new restrictions and opportunities to show that you are a local real estate leader. 

With the ability to show, buy, and sell homes the traditional way not available right now, coming up with a way to stay connected and build a backlog of leads who will be ready to go when restrictions lift will be crucial to coming out of this crisis successfully. We’ve seen a number of agents helping clients with virtual video tours, and we wish to support you in your efforts.

Family searching for home on Realtor's real estate website during covid-19 stay at home

New COVID-19 IDX Home Search Features

Showcase IDX has launched a set of new COVID-19 related enhancements to the frontend of the home search for individual real estate agents and brokers. The new Showcase IDX home search features include:

“COVID-19 has changed business as usual. Agents, brokerages, and the tools they use, must adapt to the new reality as fast as possible to weather the storm and come out of this as strong as possible. To this end Showcase IDX has started a number of high priority projects that will adapt the search experience to current, hopefully temporary conditions, as online search and collaboration tools become even more important to buying and selling homes.

Scott Lockhart, CEO @ Showcase IDX

Schedule a COVID-19 Safe Tour

Our first enhancement is an update to the Schedule a Tour call-to-action. With Shelter in Place in effect for much, if not all of the country, we’re switching this button to Get COVID-19 Safe Tour and providing additional text description to help explain what it means. This will show up on the listing page and the pop-up call-to-action modal.

COVID-19 Safe Home Tour

Custom Text for COVID Tour CTA

We realize that depending on where you are and your business the default text might not fit, so we are giving you the ability to edit this text. 

COVID-19 Safe IDX Settings - Coronavirus

Open House Warning Text

Due to open houses being canceled across the entire United States, the COVID-19 enhancements also add a brief bit of warning text to any of the remaining Open House times. These should time out of the platform over the next week, regardless. 

COVID-19 Open House Alert

Agent Opt-Out

If these features do not fit your business and you don’t want these features, you can opt-out and change it back to “Schedule a Tour” in the Display Settings. 

This first wave of COVID-19 home search features will allow agents following “Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTORS®” from The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and their state and local associations. We will roll out additional features to help real estate agents in the coming weeks.

A New Way of Showing Homes: Live Video Walkthroughs

Many consumers are accustomed to video conferencing through work and talking with friends through FaceTime, Skype, or similar platforms. Combined with your website, you can help facilitate a tour of a home using a video chat app.

Where it’s legal to do so, you may be able to perform a live video tour of the property through FaceTime or a web browser-based video tool like Roundee. Roundee is completely free up to 14 participants and works entirely in the mobile and desktop browser. Click here to test a live tour

Real estate virtual tour via real estate website during Coronavirus work from home
Couple doing real estate virtual tour with Realtor via real estate website

We were blown away by how well it worked. You can also share your desktop screen, so if you can’t or don’t want to go out to a listing for a video tour, you can give them a walkthrough screen sharing the listing on your website, while asking questions and further qualifying them as buyers and/or sellers. These ideas will let your clients tour homes without leaving theirs.

Resources for Agents as You Work on Your Site and Content 

7 Things To Do Right Now   

A good marketing strategy and focus on implementation is always the best response to a slow time! Use these tips to build on the SEO you already have, build out content for the coming months, stay in front of your clients, and give them the tools they need as they’re spending more time online. Video and checklist here.

One-on-One Website Strategy Calls

We know many agents are using this time to invest in building out hotsheets and content on their websites. We see the data on what works and are happy to give you personalized feedback on your site. Reach out to our team for help. Click here to schedule time.

Course on Effective Social Media

We’ve made this course free for you and are giving you 200 images/videos to use on your channels. Take the course here

We Are Here For You

As far as the company goes, we are now all working fully remotely. Our processes and culture has been in place for years to accommodate working from home, so we’re just all remote for the foreseeable future. We don’t see any major hurdles to this, and we are adding brief watercooler video meetings each day to say hi and to check in on each other. 

I want you to know that you have our commitment to continue providing you with the products and services you depend on. For more than 15 years, Showcase IDX has focused on our mission to power the hub of your real estate marketing – your website. This enduring mission guides us as we closely monitor, assess and respond to this situation.

This is a stressful time and we hope that everyone stays safe and sound. We realize the incredible impact this could have on your business in the short term, and we are looking forward to working with you to be ready to go when the threat recedes. 

We will get through this together.

Upgraded Showcase IDX Listing Page Going Live

We’re excited to be releasing a new version of our listing page this Wednesday 8/14 at 12am EDT (Tuesday night at midnight Eastern). This new version has an updated design and user experience, and is the first iteration of an ongoing project to refine and improve our listing page experience, for consumers and our customers. There are some key improvements in this release:

  • Overall Look & Feel: We simplified the design and now have more that consumers want and expect to see. We’ve reduced the number of items, especially unfamiliar at first sight items above the fold of the page.

  • SEO: We’ve added a number of SEO upgrades to the listing page. In addition to performance improvements, we’ve added the additional photos which all have ALT tags, we’ve added schema.org structured data tags around key pieces of information. This markup code helps Google determine which information is the most relevant and important on your page and can potentially be used in rich snippets in search results, if the website as a whole has enough authority (and a lot of other factors).

  • Photos: We’ve made the main photo much larger and simplified the navigation through the gallery. The gallery also loads much faster. In addition to the main photo we now preview the listing photos in our QuickView column on the left side. The user can click through these photos very quick and see multiples at a time. This is a concept we’re going to keep on developing, there’s a few other ways we can see photo previews being valuable to the consumer to quickly decide if a listing is relevant to their preferences/needs.

  • Call To Actions: A central part of this new release was to rethink our Call-To-Actions which are all the buttons and links a consumer can push to either ask for help, and/or create a lead. We wanted to add more of them but do it in a way that made sense and not be overwhelming to the user. We are now providing more and clearer opportunities for users to reach out and create leads than we ever have and not just at the top of the page. The Calls-To-Actions are repeated a few times throughout the page as you with one right at the bottom of the listing information. We’re confident that this simple new design and usability will increase lead conversion.

  • Friends and Family: We’ve also simplified our “Social Search” section and renamed it Friends and Family. The name Social Search didn’t really give people a good idea of what it does. We’ve also taken out the share to social networks button from that section too and put it with our main call-to-actions, as having it there added confusion. So it’s now simplified and indicative of the value it can provide. We’re looking to add more to the Friends and Family functionality in upcoming releases to make it even more valuable.

  • Bathrooms: One of the things we’ve heard a lot about is the consistency of bathroom data. Different MLSs have the bathroom data in different formats, and have different classifications for the same type of bathroom. So we have now carried over the Total Bathrooms number for each listing into the listing summary area at the top of the page, and then in the Listing Snapshot we break that down into the number of full baths and partial baths. We now have the ability to break that down even further into ½ Baths and ¾ Baths, and will be able to update the data mappings for each MLS where this could improve clarity. That data work is outside of the scope of this project.

  • Additional CSS Classes: We have added another layer of CSS specificity to the new page which should allow more advanced users to customize more specific classes and page elements. 

Launch Preparation & Review

We will be putting this page into production on Wednesday, August 14 at 12am EDT (Tuesday evening at midnight Eastern). Please check your sites to ensure that the javascript and css files are purged from your server caches. If things are looking off, reset your server and WordPress caches and it should resolve the issue immediately.

If you have applied any custom CSS to the existing listing page design, on the new version, please check that there are no styling issues. We have tried to keep the CSS namespace as consistent as possible, but we have moved some things around on the page, so this may have some impact if you’ve heavily customized the design. 

Questions & Support

If you have any questions, please reach out to our support team at help@showcaseidx.com and our team will be able to help you with any question, or concerns you may have.

New Lead Contact Detail Page Launches Today

We’re happy to announce that we have just released a new version of the lead contact detail page in our agent admin dashboard. This page gives Showcase IDX customers all the details about their IDX activity your website and where your leads are searching.

Showcase IDX Is Now An Official Zapier Integration Partner

We’ve been a beta integration with Zapier for years, but we’re happy to announce that we are now full integration partners.  This will allow you to do more with Zapier and Showcase IDX to instantly connect Showcase IDX lead data with over 1,000 apps to automate lead and message distribution and be more productive with your lead data. You’ll be able to have a simple IDX integration with LionDesk, Follow Up Boss, Realvolve, Bomb Bomb, Contactually, Wise Agent, Salesforce, Hubspot, Mailchimp and Gmail. These integrations are available to all Showcase IDX customers on all plans.

New Widgets: Search Button & Results Count

We’re happy to announce a couple of new widgets that you can use on your websites to extend the integration with Showcase IDX onto any page. We’re looking forward to seeing how creatively our customers will use these on their websites. Each of these new widgets can be created in the Agent Admin: Admin>Select a website>Settings>Shortcodes. A Showcase IDX WordPress plugin update to Version 3.0.41 is required in order for these new widgets to work.

Google Analytics Lead Conversion Tracking

Today, Showcase IDX has released some new updates and improvements to how it handles Google Analytics and in particular how Showcase IDX works with Google Tag Manager within WordPress. To ensure that all page views and conversions are counted and sent to Google, we now have a new setting within the SEO Settings for your Google Analytics Tracking Code ID (UA Code).

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