If you have been keeping tabs on the pandemic as I have, you know that the stock market has been affected tremendously, and the economy is taking a colossal hit because of the coronavirus. Naturally, many wonder how that financial hit translates into the real estate market. If you were thinking about buying or selling a home in 2020, the pandemic may have you wondering if you should rethink that plan. Despite the challenges of social distancing and life in the age of COVID-19, signs of resilience in the real estate market are strong and the news is good. Buyers are buying and sellers are selling!
According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors, after a pause from the pandemic “home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy… plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with locked-in monthly payments into future years.”
As we reemerge from sheltering-in-place and adjust to life in a “new normal”, the basic process of selling and buying a home remains the same with finding solutions and adjustments to keep everyone involved as safe and protected as possible.
If you are in a position where you would like to buy or sell a home during this time, here are some important tips to help you successfully navigate selling your property and buying your dream home!
A Chicago Realtor’s Best Tips for Selling or Buying a Home During a Pandemic
Top 5 Tips for Home Sellers
1. Plan Ahead. Getting your home ready to sell takes planning and patience. From decluttering to cleaning, most sellers find there is much to do to get their house ready for potential buyers. Keep in mind, if you need to schedule work to be done by a handyman, home stager, or another professional, planning ahead is very important as their availability will impact the date your house is ready to be on the market. Be prepared for some delays when booking a designer, painter, or contractor as they may not be as readily available as they were prior to the pandemic.
2. Access to Your Home. Discuss with your realtor how comfortable you are with prospective buyers coming in and out of your home. Our utmost concern is to keep you healthy and protected. So, during showings, we will require that everyone wears gloves, booties, and masks. It is also reasonable to ask potential buyers to limit touching furniture, surfaces, and other items in your home as much as possible. And of course, after a showing, you will want to ensure all commonly touched surfaces are cleaned and sanitized like light switches, door handles, faucets and surfaces.
3. Take Advantage of Technology. From virtual tours and 3D walkthroughs to videoconferencing and Facetime, today’s technology makes it easy to view a property and minimize face-to-face meetings when discussing the sale of your home. Be sure you (or your realtor) upload a floor plan as well as high-quality pictures of your home to many different real estate websites such as MLS, Zillow, and Trulia and your social media channels online.
4. Create Virtual Tours and Showings. When your home is staged and camera ready, make sure you or your realtor film a virtual tour of your home. If a virtual tour is done well, a potential buyer can experience your home as they take a virtual walkthrough its rooms. Once filmed, these virtual tours can be uploaded on the many real estate sites and social media channels allowing potential buyers to easily view your home day or night. If a potential buyer shows serious interest, offer the opportunity to schedule a virtual showing via FaceTime or Zoom to allow viewing the home in real-time.
5. Get a COVID-19 Waiver. When potential buyers are serious about your property and want to schedule a showing, those potential buyers should sign an appropriate COVID-19 waiver confirming that they do not have COVID-19 and that they have not come into contact with anyone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
Example of a virtual brochure that buyers can use to get a sense of the home as they explore their options.
Top 5 Tips for Home Buyers
1. Investigate Best Mortgage Options. Mortgage rates are attractive right now which is good news. However, it is important to evaluate different lenders and their requirements. With the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic, some lenders have more stringent income guidelines. Excellent financing is available but be well-advised on requirements and gather all important documentation to make for a smooth process. An experienced realtor is a great source for quality mortgage providers so be sure to seek their guidance and recommendations.
2. Be Mindful of Seller’s Rules for Showings. Speak to your realtor about that particular seller’s rules regarding in-person viewings. We want to minimize the number of people who come in contact with the home. Some sellers will have certain, stricter limitations, while others do not. You want to respect the sellers so that you can keep everyone as safe as possible and set the tone for positive negotiations when you’re ready to present an offer to a seller.
3. Narrow Down Your Top Contenders. Screen your options as much as possible so that you minimize the number of homes you have to see in person. Many real estate websites provide easy search features for you to find, filter, and save homes for sale that interest you so that you can keep track of their status, request a showings, or get up-to-date market value of the property.
4. Take Advantage of Digital Technology in Your Home Search. Today more than ever, digital technology makes finding and falling in love with the perfect new home easy. With all of the online tools and internet options readily available like real estate websites and social medial channels, it’s possible for you to look at detailed floor plans and pictures of rooms, special features, interior details, and exterior views of homes offered for sale. Since the pandemic, digital technology plays a vital role in the house-hunting process. Whether by FaceTime, Zoom, or other video call technology, savvy realtors are holding virtual tours and taking advantage of video call options to show homes virtually. Check listings daily, and subscribe to real estate sites to keep up-to-date with the most recent listing posts.
5. Start the Process Early. The coronavirus has slowed down nearly every aspect of the home buying process – whether that be with obtaining financing and locating the right property to obtaining home inspections and getting necessary appraisals. There are extra hoops to jump through, additional regulations, and more time needed for the various professionals involved in closing a real estate transaction. Dealing with these additional requirements naturally slows down the process. Starting early and armed with an extra dose of patience will make the process of buying your dream home during a pandemic a smooth one.
Regardless of these extra precautions and changes, remember that everything else involved in the process to prepare your home as a seller or search for homes as a buyer remains the same. The changes in response to the pandemic are just to add these extra precautions to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
When you are ready to sell your property or begin your search for your new home, it is my honor to help you, we can navigate your journey together! Contact me today to discuss your purchase or sale. I am passionate about helping every client succeed in every aspect of the buying and selling process.