As the coronavirus continues its ruthless rampage across the nation, Americans have learned to carry on in a “new normal” way. Nowhere is this truer than with residential real estate transactions.
People still buy and sell homes, but with new practices in place to ensure the safety of all involved.
What’s the new normal? Here are a few examples of how the industry is adjusting:
Virtual tour: Instead of visiting every promising home in person, buyers are prescreening houses virtually, often using a cursor that allows them to “walk” through the homes they are interested in.
In-person tours: New procedures are helping limit buyers’ and sellers’ exposure to the virus. Sellers now often specify the number of people allowed in the home per showing. They might note, for example, that only “decision makers,” or the people whose names will be on the deed, be permitted inside. For those given entry, real estate agents offer booties and hand sanitizer at the door. Agents wearing gloves are the only ones allowed to open doors, drawers etc. (Sellers also often leave closet doors open, all lights turned on, etc. to avoid the need for hand contact.) As the group leaves the home, agents wipe down anything that has been touched.
Time-frame for showings. Currently, only one set of buyers is allowed inside a home at a time. This results in fewer showings per time frame. Thus, many real estate agents are strategizing to extend their review of offers by a few days so that more buyers get a chance to tour the home.
Virtual home staging: Staging—where sellers hire a professional to arrange furniture and other items in their home for the best impression—is less common now, as sellers aim to limit their COVID exposure. Instead, many sellers are turning to computer-generated staging, in which virtual furniture is placed in photos of the home’s empty rooms. Buyers then access the photos online.
More than ever, it’s important that a professional guide you through the complicated home-buying/selling process.