Buyers and sellers are adjusting their life to our new normal with the Covid-19 Pandemic. When will sellers be comfortable showing their homes and what will the precautions be? I am receiving calls daily from clients that escaped NYC and do not want to go back. They want to buy and move this summer prior to the school year. Their questions and concerns are many and they’re all certainly legitimate. Here are six common client concerns..I can answer them as a local real estate agent in Northern Westchester with 19 years of experience having lived through 2009 and Sept. 11th and the effect on real estate.
The reality is that people are still buying and selling real estate. Although there are some new rules involved, buyers and sellers in the market today are more serious than ever. There may be fewer of them, but the ones that are out there are making decisions.
If you are a buyer, you may find that sellers are willing to be more flexible and amenable to putting a deal together now than before. People are a little more giving and nicer. Why add stress to something that’s already stressful?
In addition, there may be less buyers that you are competing with, particularly if you are in a price range or location that tends to be a seller’s market most of the time.
Some sellers have chosen to take their properties off the market during this time – so less competition for you. Buyers that are looking now most likely need to find something within the next 30-60 days. They may not be able to wait it out until the pandemic passes.
2. If I’m a buyer, how will showings work?
Houlihan Lawrence and other brokerage firms as part of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors have protocols in place during the pandemic assuming that sellers want to show their homes. Right now, showings are limited. You can schedule a virtual showing of the home with the seller and buyer. Many sellers have made walk thru videos and are allowing buyers to walk a property prior to scheduling a showing. Virtual tours thru FaceTime with just your agent alone in the home is another option.
As an agent, I am not allowed to attend the showing with the buyer, and Covid -19 disclosures do need to be signed beforehand. You will have to wear protective gloves and masks and use hand sanitizer, wipes or cleaning products to immediately sanitize anything you touch.
As a buyer, I suggest using your own supply of gloves, masks and sanitizer as these supplies are extremely limited. We are in the process of getting kits together for buyers.
3. What if someone in the transaction gets sick or loses their job? What if there’s a delay caused by COVID-19?
Local and national Realtor associations have developed various scenarios that speak to these situations and the lawyers are now familiar and allow time to extend the contract and/or potentially terminate the agreement, which should provide some peace of mind for all involved.
Unforeseen circumstances and delays may happen, because there are many parties involved in making a real estate transaction, including appraisers, inspectors, contractors, lenders, surveyors, etc. There are closings happening now, and my network of professionals have been able to help me navigate through these crazy times.
4. What’s the process for putting a home on the market in today’s climate?
Listing appointments can be held with social distancing and CDC guidelines. Many will now be a more virtual meeting between the listing agent and a potential seller via video chats. Documents can and will be sent and signed digitally. It could be challenging to share information this way, which is why a virtual presentation may be much easier. A video walk-through of the property could be done with the seller. They could also allow the agent to walk through while they step outside so they can provide any recommendations with respect to preparation for sale work.
Cleaning, uncluttering, minor painting and repairs can all be done ahead of time to get the home market ready. This is in addition to efforts for curb appeal, like pressure washing, planting flowers, freshening up ground cover and more.
In places where photographers are allowed to conduct business, they are going to be wearing gloves, masks and taking necessary precautions to minimize physical contact with contents in the home.
They’re asking sellers to have all the lights on and curtains open. They’re also requesting that sellers turn on items like fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and fountains prior to their arrival. That’s so they can concentrate on taking pictures without having to touch things. To minimize contact, they might also tell sellers not to be present during the shoot.
During this time, I will be doing a 3D tour or a professionally produced property video (complete with aerial shots) done. Buyers and their agents are going to lean towards homes that make virtual showings easy and bring the property to life. Now more than ever, it’s a good idea to put the power of video to work.
5. How will showings be handled? I’m not sure I want people walking through my house
We are following NYSAR guidelines and this will be an ever changing scenario. Moving forward, showings can be managed by social distancing and wearing protective gear as discussed above. Agents can also request to limit the number of visitors to only buyers/decision makers (not an entourage of family and friends) as well as request no children be present.
Having lights (and other features) turned on in advance will minimize the need for anything to be touched. The listing agent will require anyone seeing the home to follow strict protocol, which will probably include leaving personal belongings in cars and not touching anything.
Alternatively, listing agents can conduct virtual live showings by appointment using a phone or tablet. They can shoot a walk-through video on their phones and provide it to agents for their buyers.
In addition to virtually showing the inside of a house, agents can allow buyers to see the garage and walk around the exterior of the property, just so they can get a feel for the neighborhood. No matter how good pictures and videos are, most buyers still want to be able to get a physical sense of the house, the street and how it sits in relation to the homes around it.
6. Will the real estate market bounce back when this is over?
While the road may seem rocky and uncertain now, we are adjusting to a new normal, unlike anything we’ve ever been through. With so many people at home and surfing the internet, there is definitely pent up demand building, especially from buyers leaving the city. Most of the buyers I have spoken with were going to eventually move out but have now decided to speed up the process. The suburbs of NYC will feel that bounce. Some additional food for thought I have heard:
- Buyers that they are willing to go further north now for a longer commute as they expect working from home will be far more common and accepted. Prior to the pandemic, an easy commute was a real concern for many buyers.
- While some sellers have elected to take their properties off the market, the sellers that remain are largely holding at their asking prices and not doing any dramatic price drops. In some cases, multiple offers are happening depending on the property, price point, location and features.
- Homes with pools have always been and still are very popular. With the possibility of so many community pools, beach clubs and beaches closed this summer, pool homes offer a fun escape and something to do while staying at home.
With everyone at home for such a long period of time, people are re-examining where they live in an entirely different way. They may realize that their current space no longer works for them as well as they thought.
Whatever the reason, people may be anxious to make a change locally or explore an entirely different geographic area. Going through this pandemic has taught us that life is short and health and happiness are of utmost importance.
Whether your move is local or you need a referral from my national and international network, my years of experience can help you navigate this process now, or when the reopening process begins.
To see my listings in Northern Westchester, please visit HarrietLibov.HoulihanLawrence.com