Nearly six weeks after New York locked down in an effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus and provide some relief to hospitals, residents of Long Island and New York State have seen the first cautious glimmers that life might be returning to normal or at least a new version of normal.
On April 28th, Governor Andrew Cuomo released his most detailed reopening plan yet. Currently New York has a stay-at-home order in place until May 15th. After that, Governor Cuomo indicated that businesses in upstate New York and industries with lower exposure risks for workers might begin to return to work towards middle to late May.
Governor Cuomo, like most of the leadership around the country, is considering a phased reopening schedule, with more essential jobs that present relatively low risk to workers returning to work ahead of jobs that are less essential and present higher risk of exposure. In particular, manufacturing and construction were highlighted as two sectors that may be returning to work sooner rather than later.
Of course, a return to work is not a return to life as we knew it. With no vaccine available and necessary supplies for treating coronavirus patients running low, social distancing, masks, and limited gatherings are likely to be features of our daily life for the foreseeable future. Precautionary measures are our best defense against an invisible enemy, particularly in more densely populated areas like New York City.
Real estate is currently considered an essential business, though showings and open houses need to be conducted virtually. As we move forward into our new normal, we can expect these restrictions to relax somewhat. Looking at other states as a model for how we might do business in a less controlled environment, here’s what we think buyers and sellers can expect for the months ahead:
Masks and Gloves Will Be Required for All Showings and Inspections
Whether or not masks continue to be mandated in public places, we can expect that most sellers will ask that buyers not tour a home unless they’re wearing a mask and gloves. Similarly, we can expect that individual companies will require their workers to don similar protective gear both to limit their own exposure and to reduce risk for the customer. This would include people like home inspectors, plumbers, contractors, photographers, videographers, home stagers, and more.
Virtual and Private Tours Will Increase
Even if we get the official nod to begin holding open houses again, we expect that virtual and individual viewings will become much more of the norm in the months ahead. It’s not unreasonable to think that sellers will require interested buyers to view their video walkthrough or 3-D tour before booking an in-person showing to ensure that the only buyers who are coming into the home are the ones that are serious about buying it.
Buyers Will Increasingly Need Pre-Approval Letters to See Homes
Though requiring a buyer to furnish a pre-approval letter before touring a home is much more common in the luxury market, we can imagine that many sellers at all price points will ask for that pre-approval before letting buyers into their properties. This would be done in an effort to reduce foot traffic from casual browsers and those who are not qualified to buy the home.
Increased Sanitation Procedures Will Be Needed
We know that the coronavirus can linger on surfaces for hours or days so we expect that sellers and listing agents will enact new sanitization protocols. Things like spreading out showing appointments to allow time for the home to be cleaned and sanitized in between viewings or before the seller’s family returns to the property. Scheduling staging, photography, inspections and repair work on different days to decrease risk to all parties involved. In addition to the masks and gloves we mentioned above, we can also expect to see agents providing their clients with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes alongside informational sheets about the homes they’re touring.
Social Distancing Will Be Observed in All Facets of the Transaction
Most people have gotten the hang of staying six feet away from each other and we can expect this rule to become the new normal of the real estate world. No more shaking hands, hugging, or touching each other. Limiting the number of people inside a home, room, or office at any given time. Staying away from each other unless completely healthy. We have learned to effectively social distance and we will continue to do so until the threat of the coronavirus is over.
We are all learning a new way to live and conduct business. But the real estate industry is adaptable and we will all adjust to this new normalt if it means we can continue to help people buy and sell homes. Even as the worst of the pandemic raged in New York this spring, the housing market on Long Island kept moving. As life begins to move back to normal, we expect the spring and summer housing market to pick up again. People still need a place to live no matter what.
If you’re thinking of making a move this year, reach out to us. We’ll be happy to share what we at The Pesce Lanzillotta Team are doing to help make our buyers and sellers comfortable during this unprecedented time.
The Pesce & Lanzillotta Team, at BHHS Laffey International Realty