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John Welty Realty Adapts to Virtual Showings Amid Pandemic

By Drake Beck and Hamilton Hall
Hottytoddy.com interns
dabeck1@go.olemiss.edu; hihall@go.olemiss.edu

Local businessman and realtor John Welty attributes his drive for helping others to be the key to the success of his real estate firm, John Welty Realty. It’s why he entered the real estate market, and it continues to fuel his passion for remaining and making it his career.

“It’s very fulfilling to help people find the perfect home,” Welty said, “and it is the force behind my business.”

John Welty Real Estate caters to buyers interested in properties located in Oxford, which is the fastest-growing market in the state. Welty stated that buyers are attracted to Oxford’s nationally-ranked public schools, delicious southern cuisine prepared by renowned chefs, and of course, the University of Mississippi.

Welty caters to the high-end markets, typically in the low $200Ks to mid $500K range. The website is interactive and offers potential buyers the option of searching for homes by location, price, or different amenities. Figure A and Figure B are two of their high-end homes that are currently on the market. Both are located in Oxford.

Figure A, Listing $495,000 5 bdr 4 bath
3,717 sq.ft. Photo provided.
Figure B, Listing $448,000 4bdr 3 1/2 bath
2,696 sq.ft. Photo provided.

As a businessman, he likes seeing the numbers and closing the deal but firmly acknowledges his passion for helping people and for instilling that passion among his team. Welty’s firm employs salespeople, real estate agents, and brokers and is located in the heart of Oxford. Welty acknowledged that managing real estate in a college town is different because of the diverse markets and the different types of customers that emerge from those markets.

“College towns support many different types of property ownership, like investment property (rentals), second homes, and short term ownership for those parents who want a place to stay when visiting their kids in school,” Welty said. 

Investors focus on establishing Airbnb’s, which stands for “airbed-and-breakfast.” Airbnb is about sharing property for travelers looking for a place to stay in the short-term. Online marketing tools have enabled his properties to be visually presented to wider audiences looking for short-term stays and which also competes with the hotel industry in regard to price.

John Welty Realty also caters to customers who want a second home to use for vacations and extended stays or purchase property for their child attending college at Ole Miss as an alternative to the room and board fees.

Welty welcomes the attraction and excitement that the University of Mississippi carries, and he and his team provide personalized service to the buyers that reach out to his firm.

“We concentrate on honesty, the ability to think deals all the way through, and willingness to take the lead,” he said. “We are customers first when it comes to our business. I give customers my personal cell number, and they can call or text me whenever they have questions or ideas about a prospective home.”

The local market is very competitive, and he and his agents have to differentiate themselves from competing firms. Interestingly, Welty noted that there are different factors that seemed to impact the supply and demand for real estate in Oxford.

“One particular thing was Ole Miss football and how the market seemed to move up when Ole Miss has a winning season,” Welty said.

On the flip side, Welty also noted how the market is influenced by challenging times. For example, he referenced the current downward impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on sales.

Social distancing, quarantining, and isolation mandates have radically changed the real estate model, which thrives on closely connected one-on-one personal response. To that end, John Welty Realty is adapting.

His staff is working remotely, and they are testing new ways to view properties virtually. Social media is at the heart of their new business model that has emerged during these challenging times. People rely heavily on social media to reunite and to stay connected with their communities. Welty believes that “social media has changed the way they conduct business.”

This is a wholesale change from the physical-contact paradigm that is characteristic of the real estate industry. Ordinarily, real estate lead generation works best with face-to-face events such as open houses, referrals, and networking events because almost everyone walking through the door could represent a potential customer and in the market to buy, sell, or rent a property.

Currently, realtors rely heavily on the use of social media for advertising because of Convid-19 and the restrictions that come along with social distancing. Also, Welty’s team showcases properties virtually on social media.

“We want every virtual house tour to feel as much as possible like they are physically viewing the house,” he said.

John Welty Realty uses 360 Virtual Tour software which provides a realistic way for potential buyers to view properties online. The spaces are inviting and allow clients to explore the area as if they were there. Although Welty does not believe that virtual tours are more effective than in-person presentations, he believes they are the next best thing. Experts tend to agree. Ryan Serhart, creator and star of “Million Dollar Listing” contends that “video tours are a great way for prospective homebuyers to continue their search during these uncertain times.” Additionally, “agents need to make sure the videos they are making are as impactful as possible.”

Serhart is referring to the current pandemic and the changes his own team is having to make in order to be productive. Virtual visits are accompanied by sharing around the critical elements that make up the total cost of ownership.

John Welty real estate continues to earn the trust of the Oxford community as indicative of their five-star ratings, and the positive comments left online by their clients.

Homeowner Sarah Kathryn Hopkins said, “John was amazing! He was very helpful and informative when it came to both buying our current house and selling our previous house. He was very honest and gave us great tips for selling and it paid off—he sold our previous house in 33 hours.”

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