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How to Buy and Sell Safely During Coronavirus

With real estate being considered an essential business that continues to operate despite the stay-at-home order, many of our clients are continuing to proceed with their real estate plans.

We, of course, want to make sure that it is done in a safe and secure manner. The safety and health of our clients will always be our top priority.

For those buyer or seller clients who either need to or want to move forward, we want to keep you informed and make you aware of some of the new procedures you will encounter, including a new coronavirus addendum.

Here’s a Q & A on what you can expect at this time and in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to monitor the situation and expect the industry will continue to adapt as needed.

As expected, in-person contact is kept to a minimum through most of the home-buying and home-selling process by using virtual and online technology as much as possible.

What can buyers expect when it comes to buying and home showings right now?

  • We are conducting new buyer initial consultations by Zoom instead of in person.
  • Expect to have more phone conversations, Facetime, Zoom and other online interactions, and we will be adhering to CDC and other social distancing guidelines if we need to meet in person.
  • No in-person open houses. A virtual open house can be held during certain hours; we will be at the house ready to answer FaceTime or Zoom calls with any buyer who is interested in the home.
  • Appointment-only to visit a home in some situations where safety precautions are taken.
  • As usual, we will only show to our buyer clients who are pre-approved.
  • Virtual showings options – prerecorded video recordings of homes some with 3D or 360 degree technology.
  • Live-chat tours where we walk around the home and can answer questions and show more areas of the home and address detailed and more specific questions or concerns.
  • More professional photographs of homes and several shots of rooms for buyers to look through on listing websites. This can be a first step in the process to see what is out there of interest.
  • After viewing video/photo options, serious buyers can request in-person showing.
  • Buyers can expect fewer homes on the market, but still high demand from other buyers.

What can sellers expect when listing their home?

  • Communication via phone, Facetime, Zoom and other online measures as much as possible.
  • If and when we do meet in person, we will be abiding by CDC and other social distancing guidelines
  • We are seeing less showings than we are used to, but the buyers who do see a property are more serious and have a specific need to buy right now — relocating, already sold a home – and are more qualified since lenders are more stringent now.
  • Buyers are also interested in jumping in because of low interest rates.
  • Sellers who have vacated their home may have an advantage when showing it. Buyers are feeling more comfortable viewing vacant homes in person.
  • We will market and show your home via prerecorded videos, offer live-chat videos to potential buyers, and as usual, we will have professional photographs to entice buyers online.
  • We recommend staging vacant homes so they look better online and will bring in buyers who are serious and committed to purchasing right now.
  • Any in-person showings are done by appointment-only and will be done only one buyer group at a time.

What is different in the way buyers are making offers on a home?

  • Offers will include a coronavirus addendum which allows for an extension of time and more flexibility with delays. This is in case anyone becomes ill during the process or there are roadblocks when it comes to appraisals, home inspections, closing procedures.
  • More than ever, it is recommended that your job and finances be stable before going down the path of writing offers.
  • Sellers should be prepared that the coronavirus addendum that most offers are including now gives the buyer more flexibility to cancel the contract.

How are home inspections handled now?

  • Only home inspectors are attending inspections right now, no other parties unless there is an access issue and then we will meet the inspector to let them in and leave.
  • Inspectors will take more photos and share results electronically.
  • All safety precautions will be taken before and after a home inspection takes place.
  • We will review the inspection report with buyers over the phone to determine the best next steps rather than talking on site.

How are lenders having homes appraised?

  • There can be some delays when it comes to appraisals but many lenders are allowing exterior-only appraisals or having appraisers use a tool that allows them to appraise the home via online or “desktop.”

What is the lending process like right now for buyers?

  • Buyers can expect to have only phone or online contact with a lender.
  • Some, but not all, lenders are more stringent and expect higher FICO credit scores, offering less loan options and fewer jumbo loans, and verifying employment several times during the loan process.
  • Lenders can use a digital platform to verify employment.

How are closings taking place?

  • Title companies are requesting as few people as possible attend closings. We are typically attending via phone.
  • All CDC guidelines will be adhered to when it comes to social distancing. Only one pen can be used per person, and it is wiped down prior to your use.
  • Together, we will review documents over the phone prior to settlement day to make sure you are knowledgeable and confident about what you are signing.
  • No paper checks; wire deposits only.

What are any specific safety procedures you are implementing?

  • For any appointment-only showings in person, we are placing signs at each property requesting that no one touch anything in the home. To support that effort, we are asking sellers to leave lights on and keep things like closet doors open.
  • We have disposable gloves at each property and request that they be put on during the showing. We also have a bottle of hand sanitizer at each property. This procedure is in place since there may be times that someone touches something accidentally or needs to touch something that we didn’t expect. We can’t control 100% of everything so we are ensuring that there is another level of protection in each home.
  • We also request that no client or customer with known virus symptoms in their household come inside the property for the showing.
  • We recommend bringing your own hand sanitizer. Of course, you can use ours if you do not have any.
  • We will be wearing masks and latex-free gloves to all showings. For any in-person showings, we ask that we remain at least six feet apart.
  • Our goal is to help clients who need it while protecting everyone’s health.

Now more than ever, we hope you stay healthy, stay safe, and we thank you for understanding our current policies. This benefits everyone as we meet your real estate needs.

Please never hesitate to reach out to us with your questions or concerns at any time.