There’s no denying that life has been turned upside down in recent weeks. COVID-19 has changed how we approach almost everything, from going to the grocery store to buying and selling our homes.
I’d like to think that, for the most part, we real estate agents are adapting quickly. But these are unprecedented times, which means we should all be putting a little bit more effort into educating our clients. With that in mind, I wanted to tackle some of the most common areas of confusion.
If you’re a home buyer or seller, here’s what you should know about real estate transactions in the era of social distancing…
Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions I’m hearing from sellers right now.
Is now a good time to sell, or should I wait?
It depends. Many prospective sellers are holding off for a while, due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic—and the real estate market. Others are forging ahead while respecting social-distancing rules. If you’re trying to settle on a timeline, remember that none of us knows how long current conditions will last. That said, your agent can help you assess your circumstances to make an informed decision.
Can I hold an open house?
Not in person. The idea of an open house is to bring many potential buyers together under one roof—which is a very risky proposition right now. While you really don’t need to hold one of these events to sell a home, you can ask your agent about potential virtual solutions if the idea appeals to you.
Can buyers still tour my home?
Yes! Virtual tours are incredibly useful tools for sellers at this time. With the right technology, buyers can thoroughly explore (and fall in love with) your property without ever setting foot inside. We can still hold in-person showings under certain circumstances—if you’re comfortable with them. But safety precautions should be taken (I’ll say more about that below). If we go this route, your home should be completely vacant when a buyer takes a tour.
Should I be worried about COVID-19 during in-person showings?
There’s no getting around it: there are some risks involved in showing your home during a pandemic. Your agent should explain them to you carefully, and take steps to ensure that any tour you allow is as safe as possible. That will likely mean asking buyers reasonable questions to help assess their potential COVID-19 statuses, advising them not to touch any surfaces in your home when they’re inside, and even offering hand-sanitizing products before entry.
Will there be any additional paperwork involved?
Given that there is some potential risk involved in showing a home right now, your agent will almost certainly ask you to sign a consent form. Be sure to read it carefully. Responsible professionals want you to make fully-informed decisions, which is why it’s so important to us that you review your documentation!
How will I communicate with my agent?
Just because you can’t meet up with your agent in person doesn’t mean they should provide you with subpar service. At every step, the professional you work with should be available to explain processes, answer questions, and discuss new developments. Luckily, digital platforms like Zoom and Skype make one-on-one updates—and conference calls with multiple parties—a breeze.
Home buyers have just as many questions as sellers do right now. Here are a few that keep popping up.
Is now a good time to buy, or should I hold off?
If you do decide to buy sooner rather than later, you may find that sellers are more flexible than they would be under normal circumstances. On the flip side, there are many unknowns right now, which is why some buyers are waiting until life—and the market—are closer to normal. The bottom line is, this isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Fortunately, an experienced agent can help you decide what your next move should be.
Is it safe to enter a seller’s house right now?
Unfortunately, no agent can guarantee that any living space is completely free of COVID-19. What we will do is ask sellers reasonable questions to help ensure that the risk level is as low as possible. We’ll also provide you with tips on how to view a home safely—from washing your hands properly before and afterwards, to not touching any surfaces inside.
Who can I bring to a showing?
Some buyers like to bring family members to weigh in on a potential purchase. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion under normal circumstances. But during a pandemic, the participants involved in a showing should be limited to those who will be on the purchase agreement. Under no circumstances should you bring the kids!
Can I view a home if I’ve been sick, or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19?
If you’re showing signs of illness such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you shouldn’t participate in a home viewing. The same is true if you’ve had contact with someone who has (or is suspected to have) COVID-19 within the last two weeks. For now, it’s best if we all air on the side of caution.
Will I be asked to sign any additional documents during this time?
You will almost certainly be asked to sign a consent form laying out the potential risk associated with viewing a home during the pandemic. Rest assured that you aren’t being singled out—the sellers involved will be asked to sign a similar document. If you have any questions, your agent will be more than happy to answer them.
How will my agent keep me in the loop?
Whether they’re searching for properties that meet your criteria or negotiating with sellers, your agent should keep you informed at every step of your purchase. Fortunately, regular videoconferencing sessions can ensure that you’re never left wondering what’s going on. The right technology can also connect you to sellers, their representatives, and any other professionals involved in the process.
Wondering how COVID-19 will impact your home purchase or sale? Get in touch to learn more about the market—and how the buying and selling processes have changed.