If you’re ready to sell or buy, here are a few new “rules” to keep in mind when entering the real estate market in the era of social distancing.
Increasing Online Presence – One of the significant changes to the real estate process is an increased dependence on online resources instead of in-person shopping. This includes lots of pictures and videos of properties being posted online. However, many sellers are taking things even further than this. Historical virtual tours, online conferences to allow buyers to ask questions about the property, and even live stream walkthroughs with a seller or agent showing the property are all increasingly popular options to supplement or replace in-person showings.
Open houses have been canceled due to social distancing, and Realtors want to make sure everyone feels safe. Online “virtual open house” conferences are popping up as one option to adapt to this, letting multiple potential buyers come together on Zoom or a similar video conference service at the same time to get a better feel for the property that’s being sold.
While this may not be enough extra information to decide if that is the home you want to buy, it is often enough to eliminate it. Photos tell part of the story, but a virtual walkthrough shows much more. Because of this, we have reduced the number of homes buyers need to personally visit to find the right home for you and your family.
More One-on-One Time – Since online access and virtual tours show so much of what buyers want to see, there have been a few buyers signing on the dotted line without getting a chance to see a property in person first. Most agents meet with potential buyers by appointment only when a potential buyer still wants to visit the property in question. Everyone is encouraged to restrict the size of the meeting as much as reasonable. These appointments should be made to understand that if any participant feels the least bit under the weather on the day of the meet-up, it will need to be rescheduled for another time.
Respecting Social Distancing – When buyers and agents meet up, the process is usually slightly different from it used to be. Social distancing rules are generally respected, meaning that everyone involved should stay at least six feet apart from anyone they don’t live with to prevent potential infection. Your agent will take his/her car separately, and you’ll drive your family in yours. Discussions about the property and general Q&As are more likely to occur outdoors in the open air, and any greetings or introductions skip out on traditional handshakes. Masks, gloves, shoe covers, and hand sanitizers are used. Many sellers go through and open all of the doors and windows to maximize airflow and allow interested buyers access to the entire house without touching doorknobs or other surfaces to see inside.
Closing Remotely – Remote finishes are becoming much more common, taking advantage of video conferencing to bring everyone together without actually having to be in the same room. There may be some instances where people must meet in person to have some items Notarized, but digital signing is substituted when allowed because it removes that point of contact. When people come together to sign, everyone will utilize social distancing, and pens won’t be shared.
We expect some of these practices to “survive” long after this incredibly disruptive virus is under control.