Selling Your Home During COVID-19
Even with the backdrop of a pandemic extremely present, the Real Estate world does not stop. There are many sellers who were waiting for the spring market to list their home and find a buyer. On the surface it would seem that these plans have taken a hit, but in reality they just need a slight adjustment. As difficult as it may appear, you can still sell your home. In many ways from a buyer’s perspective this is a great time to buy. Interest rates have once again dropped to all-time lows and many lenders have loosened some of their most restrictive guidelines. With states and individual companies forcing stay at home policies, buyers have more time to investigate and research their dream home. While COVID-19 is changing the way homeowners are doing so, selling your home is still very realistic – here are 5 points to consider in this current market.
1. Virtual Showings
Over the past year many real estate agents have slowly shifted to how they preview and show their listings. In an effort to maximize their time they have started producing property preview videos. With these they can either send through email on demand or place on their website for public viewings. Doing this in the midst of a crisis isn’t much of an adjustment at all. The biggest difference is where the videos are coming from. Instead of outsourcing to a professional company many are doing it themselves or relying on the video skills of the homeowner. With enough quality video the footage could be sent to a videographer who may add music, lighting or other effects to give it the finishing touch. A two minute virtual showing often gives a prospective buyer all the need to decide if they want to pursue. Instead of open houses or MLS exposure you can drum up interest in your property through a quality virtual showing.
2. Leveraging Technology
Technology is constantly changing. It wasn’t that long ago that eFax was considered a game changer and scanning a document from your phone was a break through. Today some of the biggest deals are done with one party at a coffee shop or in flip flops from a beach house. As a seller you can leverage technology to perform almost all of the tasks involved in the transaction. On the most basic level you and your real estate agent can use Facetime or Zoom to iron out a negotiation or contract detail, instead of simply texting or emailing. When you have an executed contract your attorney can use e-signatures from a scan or fax, instead of having to meet in person. Real estate agents, attorneys and even lenders have quickly adapted to new closing guidelines and procedures. You may be able to sign every document, form and addendum you need to without leaving your home office.
3. Creative Marketing
In a traditional real estate transaction initial interested is usually derived from an alert on the MLS. From there a real estate agent springs into action and the process is started. In this current environment, instead of solely relying on the MLS, word of mouth or interoffice networks real estate agents are becoming more creative. The most common starting point is social media. With people working from home there has been an uptick on social media traffic. Real estate agents are using this to get organic interest in their listings. A video tour of the property coupled with a dedicated website with all pertinent information, facts and data is a great way to find the right buyer in this market. There are also email or text alerts to fellow agents, investors, attorneys and mortgage brokers. Simply put, if you list your home there is a good chance that marketing and exposure will not be an issue.
4. Virtual Staging
Don’t think that you missed your window to sell because you weren’t able to get your property staged. There are a handful of programs and apps that give you the ability to virtually stage your property. In fact, this may actually be more appealing to buyers because you can give them multiple options. With traditional staging you have one chance to make an impression. If what you and your real estate agent come up with doesn’t work you are out time and money. Virtual staging allows the buyer to play around with what they like for them and see the property through that lens. There are plenty of skilled computer and tech people who would love to give you some property ideas. Virtual staging will never replace the real thing but it shouldn’t be something that holds you back from presenting your property in the best possible light.
5. (Carefully) Showing Your Property
As much as a virtual property tour or a dedicated website can provide valuable property information, nothing replaces actual eyes on a property. If there is true interest in the property you can still show it, with a series of restrictions. For starters, there may be a required set of disclosures from all parties prior to entering the property acknowledging the risks of entering. Next, it is advised that the seller is not present at the time of the showing. There is a hard limit on the number of people who are allowed in the property at one time. No more than two people on the buying side are allowed, in addition to their real estate agent. During the showing strict social distancing rules are still in place and there must be a six foot separation between parties. There may be additional rules depending on the specific county and individual state. The bottom line is that if a buyer really needs to put eyes on the property, they are still allowed to. The California Association of Realtors just released best Real Estate Practices During Coronavirus which will help give you an idea of what specific guidelines to be aware of when selling your home during COVID-19.
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Over the last few weeks Americans have shown just how adaptable we truly are. Changes in local real estate practices and procedures will become the new normal in short order and won’t be much resistance in conducting a transaction. If you are thinking selling your home you will have to alter some of the things you do, but it is just a minor obstacle and hardly a roadblock.