As every aspect of our lives is disrupted by the coronavirus, many home buyers and sellers are wondering how the outbreak will affect their real estate transaction — especially as we head into the busiest buying season of the year.
Last week, the National Association of Realtors surveyed Realtors to ask them about the impact the coronavirus was having on transactions. While the vast majority of respondents said the virus had not affected buyer and seller interest, about one in four said they had changed the way a home is viewed, including implementing increased safety measures as part of the home-selling process.
This article provides several safety tips you can incorporate as you buy and sell homes this spring.
Using technology for
As “social distancing” becomes part of our daily lives, you can also incorporate it into the process of buying and selling a home. In fact, many parts of the real estate transaction are already conducted online.
Many Realtors use technology for virtual home tours and videos. With these technologies, buyers can tour a house from every angle — all without stepping foot in the home. These 3D tours are a great way for buyers to see if they’re really interested in a house before they see it in person.
For buyers who want a more in-depth tour without going out, agents are showing homes using FaceTime and virtual chats.
Buyers and sellers can also avoid contact by using electronic documents. Realtors have access to technology so you can make offers and sign real estate paperwork electronically without the need for an in-person meeting.
As you talk to Realtors about listing your home, talk to them about any technology they’re using that will help with “social distancing” efforts.
Screening potential buyers
While technology will help reduce social exposure, some buyers will want to tour the actual home before making an offer. Sellers concerned about the danger of allowing strangers into their homes can have their Realtor ask several screening questions.
You may ask potential buyers about whether they are sick and whether they have recently traveled, particularly to areas having an increased risk of coronavirus infection. It’s important, however, to remember that all screening questions must be applied fairly and asked of all potential prospects.
Realtors abide by the Fair Housing Act and will not discriminate against any segment of the population. The National Association of Realtors provides the following guidance:
“While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian decent differently.”
Safety during home showings
Sellers will want to have a candid conversation with their Realtor about the pros and cons of hosting an open house in light of the recent outbreak. Sellers will want to look at information from local health authorities and assess the local risk.
Should you decide to conduct an open house or have buyers come for a private tour, the National Association of Realtors recommends the following: “Consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, limiting the amount of people in the home and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms.”
The association also recommends that sellers clean and disinfect their home afterward, especially doorknobs, faucet handles and other commonly touched areas.
Despite the outbreak, there are many home-buying opportunities this spring — especially as mortgage interest rates hover near record lows. In fact, 37% of Realtors surveyed said excitement over lower mortgage rates outweighed home buyers’ concern about the stock market correction.
Buyers and sellers can learn more about navigating the real estate market amid the coronavirus outbreak by talking to their local Realtor. A directory of local Realtors is available at NWAOR.com.