Real Estate During the COVID-19 Outbreak
First it was large gathering venues; arenas, museums, and concert halls. Now retailers and gyms across the country are closing their doors to protect employees and customers in this pandemic state of emergency. The giant online web portals for home shopping will be impacted – but not in the way you expect. They rely on LOCAL real estate agents and teams (small businesses) to pay them for leads to cover the overhead to keep the website running on. Sites like Zillow, REALTOR and Trulia are just MIDDLE MEN to get you to agents (and lenders and insurance people). But for our local, full time real estate agents, this pandemic and quarantine inhibits home sales. If an agent doesn’t sell a house, they have no income but their bills keep coming – including the bills from websites you probably surf often without thinking twice.
Most REALTORS put A LOT back into local communities and/or support people through critical housing times and many of those REALTORS are at extremely high risk of getting clobbered by the crisis if they don’t have supportive clients, consumers and family/friends.
As we see the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic spread across the United States, local agents are working hard to keep their clients and customers safe. To combat the significantly lower-than-usual traffic levels, many are getting creative and coming up with ways to continue engaging those who may be practicing social distancing. If you want your favorite agent to stay in business through this you can help by staying loyal! Just remember: As the economy tightens and it gets difficult (and more expensive) to advertise, show and sell homes for them to collect a paycheck, little gesture from you can keep their hopes up—be it reminding them when you are planning your next move, post your positive reviews online, an Instagram story shoutout or committing to shopping EXCLUSIVELY at their agent website online or in the MLS portals they set up for you —can go a long way in keeping them confident in the future of their business and working hard to stay in business.
How to Shop Local Real Estate During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Many sellers are nervous and holding out but there are still homes for sale – from traditional sellers, foreclosures (bank-owned) and corporations.
Start by connecting with an agent and get set up for direct MLS home searches so you are getting accurate data on all traditional and foreclosure sales.
Skip the open houses but go for a drive to scope out neighborhoods and commute times. (This is also a great way to get out of the house and still keep social distancing!)
Choose the homes you want to see carefully. Study the listing details and the photos to ensure it will meet your criteria. Request all seller disclosures to review before booking a visit.
Request virtual and video tours before (or instead of) scheduling a private showing.
Do NOT go on showings if you are sick.
Ask if the seller has been sick or if the agent knows of anyone that has been in the house that has been sick or traveled out of the country in the recent 2 weeks before scheduling and in person visit. There are no guarantees but this can help limit your exposure.
If you must go on a private showing, drive separately from your agent to showings and do NOT shake hands or any other contact with the agent.
Don’t touch anything at the house. Stay 6 feet from your agent and let them handle the doors and light switches.
When viewing homes, sanitize your hands on the way in AND on the way out.
Spend the shortest amount of time possible in the house. Do not linger. Get a feel for things and get out.
Do not bring kids on showings (unless you can strictly enforce the rules above with them).
How Can you be Confident about Purchasing Real Estate During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
It’s hard to be confident about anything in uncertain times but if you need to purchase a home, you can and should proceed with caution. Having a roof over your head is a sense of stability for many people in unstable times.
Talk to your lender about interest rates an payments BEFORE you shop for a home. Make sure you are 100% comfortable with the financial position before you get too deep into looking at homes.
Always include an inspection contingency is offers from short visits or sight unseen offers.
Discuss your closing schedule with your lender. Some are getting behind with shortages of underwriters and appraisers.
Discuss your purchase closing schedule with your title company. Some are using limited power of attorney, separate closings and spacing closings apart to practice social distancing to ensure the safety of the closers and the clients.
People will keep moving during the pandemic and it’s good for the economy to keep things moving but we must do it safely.
Call me, your financial advisor and mortgage professional if you plan to shop for a home. Get your ducks in a row and make a game plan that could survive an economic disaster.
PLEASE WATCH THIS BLOG FOR UPDATES ON HOW CORONAVIRUS IS AFFECTING REAL ESTATE!