5 Ways Coronavirus Is Changing How You Sell a House (And Maybe for the Better)

Coronavirus is actively changing the mechanics of selling a home in a way that could have long-lasting and even permanent effects. 

To limit interactions agents and clients are utilizing different technologies in order to facilitate the real estate transaction.  Here are 5 different ways agents are utilizing technology to make real estate safer during the pandemic.

1. Video Conference Listing Appointments

Before the pandemic, your first meeting with your agent was conducted at your home.  Your agent would want to walk around and see you home to get an understanding of its value and how to market the home.  

The meeting would consist of sitting at the kitchen table to discuss your moving plans, reviewing the agent's marketing plan, pricing, and sales costs.  Now to limit exposure, agents are setting up preliminary meetings over web conference applications like Zoom.   They are able to share information on a shared screen and go over all the details and answer seller questions.  

If the sellers would like to move forward with the agent they can then schedule a personal meeting at the home.  Standing and sitting 6 feet apart and wearing a mask, the agent can then take a better look at the home and finalize any last details.

2. Virtual Tours

People are receptive to the virtual walkthrough experience, similar to how they’ve come around to virtual gatherings with family and friends.  Virtual tours have been a thing in real estate for a while.  Only recently has realistic virtual walk-through technology become available through companies like Matterport.  The costs can be expensive generally costing around $500 per home and not every agent has adopted the use in their marketing plan.

More and more agents are opting to spring for these high-tech virtual tours that allow viewers to walk through their homes and give them a more realistic portrayal of the space.

As part of our marketing package, we offer Matterport tours free of costs on all our listings and include the 2D floorplan as well.

2. Virtual Open Houses

While virtual tours have long been on the rise as a complement to great photos, agents are using technology more than ever to promote their listings and put houses in front of potential buyers during coronavirus.

Not only do virtual events and walkthroughs adhere to social distancing guidelines, they save time. Sellers don’t have to leave their homes and invite a hoard of strangers into their space. And no one has to drive across town to view a property that may or may not prove to be a good fit.

Buyers are able to get questions about the home answered directly from agents.  They can review the disclosures with the agents over the virtual meeting and if there is interest buyer can follow up with an onsite showing. 

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3. Attracting Serious Buyers

As of May 4th home showings can include homes that are occupied.  Homeowners need to be out of the home.  Showings are limited to just three people an agent and two buyers.  The buyers can only view the home together if they currently reside together otherwise they must view the home separately with their agent. 

Agents and buyers must be 6 feet apart and wear masks.  Sanitation wipes or gels should be used before entering the home as well as following all recommended CDC protocols.

In addition, agents have to provide a form to the listing agent prior to showing referred to as the PEAD form (Coronavirus Property Entry and Advisory).  The form details the protocols agents must follow while showing the home and limit the liability of all parties.

Listing agents are also requesting pre-approvals prior to showings to make sure the buyers are qualified. With all the restrictions limiting showings only to serious and qualified buyers. 

4. Showing appointments are getting some boundaries

Virtual walkthroughs and pre-approval requests are great for weeding out the tire-kickers and nosy neighbors, but as sight-unseen purchases are still fairly rare, a serious buyer will eventually need access to the house.

Though it’s tempting to be ultra-accommodating as the economy enters what’s expected to be a challenging recession, sellers should expect these restrictions on in-person showings for the foreseeable future:

  • Scheduling will accommodate just one client party at a time; no overlapping visits
  • Sellers will need to turn on all the lights before showing and open up closets and cabinets to minimize contact
  • Agents will help sellers post protocols or other directives for visitors in the home, i.e.; don’t use toilets, avoid touching surfaces
  • Walkthroughs will be bound by time limits and buyers will be asked not to linger

Although some of these restrictions will likely ease up eventually, it’s hard to say when that will be possible or whether sellers will ever again be fully comfortable inviting strangers through their home in a revolving-door fashion. It’s likely that some of these restrictions will have a long shelf life.

5. Digital or mobile solutions are replacing the closing table

The pandemic has created some pressure to innovate around home closings that were traditionally conducted in an office setting. Agents are getting creative by offering to do:

  • Mobile notaries are coming to homes to sign documents.
  • E-closings are being processed by the county to record documents.
  • E-signature software such as DocuSign is being used to sign remotely.

What does the future hold?

Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one can state with certainty how long this will last and what the real estate industry will look like in the aftermath. Fortunately, we have technology on our side and folks are still able to buy and sell homes — perhaps using methods that, when you think about it, are actually an improvement from the old days.

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