Selling a home under normal circumstances can be exhausting but selling it during a pandemic is overwhelming to many people. I think this is one of the reasons inventory is so low. Sellers are reluctant to open their homes to strangers and to risk bringing COVID into their homes. However, even during the darkest times of the COVID-19 crisis, real estate transactions continued. Early in the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security classified real estate as an essential service and activities like open houses were allowed in most if not all localities after a few months.
Now we need to share the news with the rest of the potential sellers out there who are reluctant to put their homes on the market. It is possible to sell your home during this COVID market - and to do it safely by following these simple steps.
REDUCE SHOWINGS WiTH VIDEO TOURS
Ask your Realtor to create a video tour. Kick your listing up a notch by offering a virtual tour of your home to drive interest among buyers and provide a more in-depth glimpse of the property. Some agents do a simple walk and talk through the house which can be shared with other agents and buyers or uploaded to Youtube. Other agents go with a professionally produced 3-D tour. Most listing services allow videos to be uploaded into the MLS in addition to photos.
Sellers love virtual tours because the virtual tour allows potential buyers access to the house without the seller having to leave home for an hour while the buyers visit. A virtual tour pre-qualifies interest to ensure that potential buyers don't tour a home and say they didn't like the flooring in person or something small like that.
A video tour also will engage other buyers and make them really want to see your home! virtual tours to pre-qualify interest to ensure that potential buyers don't tour a home and say they didn't like the flooring in person or something small like that.
VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSES
During the worst of the pandemic last spring, many agents held virtual open houses on Zoom calls or Facetime. The agents advertised the open house on a variety of social media channels and as virtual open houses on the MLS. Buyers could use a link in the advertising to join a zoom call or to contact the agent to see the property virtually through Facetime or Whatsapp. Only after seeing the property virtually did buyers see the house in person. This is still an option for sellers who do not want a multitude of buyers coming through the property at the same time.
PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR SHOWINGS
Create a showing kit for buyers who come to your home. Put a friendly sign at the entrance to your home asking people to use shoe covers or remove their shoes. It would be very helpful if you provide shoe covers or a seat where buyers can sit down to remove their shoes. Offer latex free gloves and hand sanitizer or hand soap and wipes so that the buyers can make sure their hands are clean. Have a few spare masks available just in case just in case someone left their mask in the car by mistake. Here in the DC metro area, I haven't seen a buyer or an agent without a mask since March 2020, but it never hurts to be prepared.
TAKE SANITATION SERIOUSLY
Before a home showing, the seller should clean and disinfect high-touch areas, like countertops and doorknobs, and leave lights on and doors, closets, and cabinets open to limit what visitors need to touch. Another sign asking buyers and their agents to leave the doors open and the lights on can be helpful to minimize contact.
Many buyers like going to open houses on Saturdays or Sundays - with or without their Realtors so it is helpful to hold an open house. Agents are holding open houses safely by limiting the number of people in the house at any time, having lights on and closet doors open so that no one has to touch anything, and of course requiring everyone to wear masks. When the open house is over, it is a simple thing for the agent to wipe off banisters, door handles and light switches with a sanitizing spray so that the house is clean when the seller returns.
Of courrse, even when Realtors do open houses, they are different than a year ago. No one wants a large open-house event with spreads of food and drinks where people are picking up plates, napkins, and plastic ware along with pouring drinks out of bottles. Now the open houses often limit the number of buyers in the home at one time. There is no food and everyone is expected to wear a mask at a minimum.
MINIMAL ATTENDANCE AT INSPECTIONS AND APPRAISALS
Social distancing means that many inspections and appraisals are being done with minimal contact. As always, here in the DC area, sellers are expected to leave the property during the inspection. The inspector, buyer(s) and agent all will be wearing masks. As a seller, it is not unreasonable to ask that they also use shoe covers and gloves too. When the inspection is over, the seller should wipe down everything with disinfectant wipes.
If the lender allows it, the appraisal can be done by driving by the home, or viewing photos of the property, so the appraiser never has to set foot in the home. This generally depends on the amount of the down payment and the type of loan the buyer is seeking.
If you are reluctant to attend closing in an office, no problem! Ask if the title company the buyer chose can facilitate a remote online notarization (RON) for you. This RON allows a notary and signer to execute electronic documents while in different physical locations. You will be able to sign the closing documents in the privacy and safety of your home.
If remote closing is possible, title companies prepare the required documents and mail, and then email or upload them to a portal. The title company verifies personal information and identification by video, and the documents are signed electronically.
Another option is using a mobile notary, who travels to a buyer or seller’s home or workplace to complete the closing to limit in-person contact.
As you can see, it is possible to sell your house, even as COVID is still present. With the low interest rates, inadequate new construction, and increased demand for homes (particularly single family homes), now is the time to sell your home! There are lots of buyers looking for a home just like yours. Give the Lise Howe Group a call if you are anywhere in the DC metro area to start getting your home ready for this hyper hot market!