Staying Safe While Buying or Selling Real Estate During COVID-19

It’s obvious that buying or selling real estate during any crisis is not an optimal scenario. Unfortunately, there will most likely be some that may not have the luxury of being able to postpone the sale or purchase of real estate until the current pandemic disappears. This post is for you, to help provide critical information meant to keep you safe as well as provide some level of expectation as to how you may be able to navigate the already complex process of buying or selling real estate under the pressure of a worldwide pandemic.

At NextHome Lifestyles, our goal has always been to guide our clients through the home buying and selling process with professional courtesy and expert local knowledge, and given current circumstances, our commitment has never been stronger. So, if you feel that you may be one of the few faced with the challenge of buying or selling real estate in the coming months then we want to make sure you’re aware of exactly what that commitment looks like, and how we are implementing best practices and critical protocols to keep you safe.

If you aren’t already aware, as of March 31, 2020, real estate services in Santa Clara County have been considered as an “essential business” under the most recent Health Order. Although this means that we can still assist in the purchase and sale of real estate, this does not mean that things are back to business as usual. It’s clear that we all have a social responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as local residents and business owners ourselves we are very serious about keeping our communities safe. So, effective immediately we have implemented all the recommended guidelines provided by our local, state and federal government, as well as by the CDC.

But first, before we get into the logistics of how real estate may be conducted under the current shelter in place mandate, the most important message we can promote is the importance of discussing your situation and goals with your real estate professional in order to determine whether you can or should postpone your move. Although real estate services are now considered as an “essential” service under the new health order and “shelter in place” mandate, all unnecessary real estate activities are still strictly discouraged. This means you won’t be seeing any public open houses, availability to schedule private tours will also be extremely limited, and affiliated service providers will also be limited in their capacity to support your transaction.

For your convenience, we’re available to walk you through these considerations virtually through video-conferencing in order to have an open and candid conversation about your options, as well as provide details on how we are committed to keeping you safe if you are unable to avoid postponing your real estate transaction. Additionally, here’s a quick list of the most common questions that we receive during these virtual appointments and the information we are sharing (which may change as things continue to develop over the coming weeks):

Are people still buying and selling homes? Quick answer is “yes,” but with new protocols and limitations meant to keep everyone safe as well as slow the possible spread of COVID-19. Again, please contact us so that we can walk you through all the latest developments as well as thoroughly discuss the potential impact on your upcoming or impending transaction.

How has the process of buying and selling a home changed since the pandemic started? Many businesses are now closed or operating on a very limited basis including real estate affiliated services such as home inspection companies, lenders, appraisers, home stagers, movers, etc. which make it challenging to facilitate any transaction. Plus, new safety protocols place additional limitations on our ability to serve our clients so now virtual showings and video conferencing will make up the majority, if not the entirety, of the transaction in order to limit potential face-to-face meetings or in-person property tours.

How are we handling our appointments? All appointments are conducted by video conferencing technology, whether you are more comfortable with FaceTime or Zoom, we’re available to meet you face-to-digital-face online. We’re taking any and all appointments, no matter what your scenario, or your questions…we are here for you and available to provide some clarity in very uncertain times.

How can we tour properties while sheltering in place? While we’d love to take you on tours of homes in-person it’s just not that practical under current conditions…everyone is doing their part to slow the spread and protect our communities, and at the moment touring homes is not necessarily “essential” under our current health mandate. Therefore, we have adopted technologies that will be able to accommodate showings by video conferencing for any home you’re interested in viewing. And, if it’s one of our listings we’ll have a digital 3-dimensional rendering available for you to move through at your own pace, or we can even schedule a time to guide you through a virtual showing over video conference in order to provide more detailed information and answer questions about the property.

Can we visit a home in-person before making an offer? All in-person showings now involve the risk of potential exposure to multiple other parties. So, depending upon your circumstances, as well as those of the property you’re interested in making an offer, this may or may not be appropriate. If you deem it is appropriate, then we will only be able to show you homes in which the seller has already moved out, and only with 2 guests of the same household at any particular time.

If you’re inquiring with our agents to take you on an in-person property tour we will require the additional items before we’re able to accommodate your requests:

  • Pre-approval letter
  • Proof of Funds for your down payment or letter from your Lender verifying your down payment
  • Completed Homebuyer Questionnaire Form
  • Completed “Property Entry Advisory & Declaration” form for each home you tour

What safety protocols are being put into place if we have to visit a property in-person? Keep in mind that any unnecessary exposure can also create unnecessary exposure for others that may also be touring a property, so you should expect to follow specific social distancing protocols and CDC guidelines. These now include the following:

  • If you’re feeling sick, please stay home
  • Only 2-people from the same household may tour any property at the same with the company of your real estate agent
  • Showings will be limited in time to maximum 30-minutes
  • A hand washing station or access to hand sanitizer will be available
  • Shoe covers will be provided
  • You’ll be asked to keep your hands to yourself, refrain from operating any light switches, and to not open doors, cabinets or drawers

Please note, we will not be providing you with face masks or gloves. While our goal is to limit any undue exposure within our community, we must also do our part to ensure that as much protective equipment as possible is available to our health professionals.

If I have to list my home, how will you handle showings? First, if you’re occupying your home then we will need to delay any in-person showings until after you have moved out. But, we can still accommodate virtual showings…if you are choosing to stay in your home during the sale then we will use our technology and marketing skills to craft immersive marketing materials including 3-dimensional digital models, high definition narrated video tours, and of course beautiful photography. We can also schedule video conferencing appointments in which we can digitally tour prospective buyers through your home while answering all their questions and keeping everyone safe.

If your home is vacant then in-person property showings are allowable but only for pre-approved buyers that follow the strict social distancing protocols required under the current SIP mandate. In summary, only 2-guests from the same household plus an agent will be allowed in your property at any given time. We also follow CDC guidelines for slowing the spread and will be providing hand sanitizer, handwashing stations, shoe covers and more.

If I have my home on the market for sale, should I withdraw it? If a home seller is serious about selling, then our advice to you is to stay the course. Although buyer interest will differ depending on your price range and location, overall we’re still experiencing a market in which our available inventory remains extremely limited which favors home sellers. Plus, modern technology allows for extremely thorough virtual tours so even though in-person showings will be drastically reduced, or discouraged altogether, with mortgage rates at all-time lows there will most assuredly be plenty of buyers who will be taking advantage to leverage their buying power and making offers solely based on virtual presentations.