Impact of Coronavirus on Real Estate
Now that we’re somewhat adjusting to the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be affecting our lives for the foreseeable future, the hot topic in real estate circles has quickly become best practices for day-to-day business. With the utmost concern for the health and safety of real estate clients and agents, while also recognizing that the world has not stopped turning, we are beginning to see a consensus amongst brokerages, agents, and health officials.
The major talking points of this very broad and evolving conversation are this:
Virtual technologies are nothing new to real estate, but going forward and at a much more rapid pace, these will have a greater role to play in the process of buying or selling property.
- Videoconferencing: Showings, walkthroughs, and consultations can be facilitated with the use of apps like FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype.
- 3D Virtual Tours: Companies like Matterport allow for the creation of a digital clone of a subject property that can be explored through your computer, tablet or smartphone. This technology allows you to view rooms from any side or angle.
- Cinematic Property Videos: High-quality photography is a minimum requirement. Beautifully shot and edited video truly allows prospective buyers to gain a feel for a home or neighborhood.
- eSigning and Online Document Storage: Software like AppFiles, DocuSign, and Form Simplicity allow agents, clients, managers and transaction coordinators to create, modify, sign, deliver and access important documents from anywhere with an internet connection.
To maintain the wellbeing of all those involved and to minimize unnecessary risks to all parties, an increased level of screening will be the norm. While this may come across as an invasion of privacy to some, it should be understood that this is to everyone’s benefit.
- Health Screenings: Buyers, sellers, and agents should be prepared to answer questions about their current state of health, recent illness in their family, travel, or other risk factors.
- Financial Qualifications: It has always been recommended that buyers obtain loan pre-approval, or if paying cash – proof of funds, before submitting an offer. Expect that sellers and their representatives may require these documents before opening their homes up for a showing. This ensures that potential buyers are serious and able, limiting unnecessary contact.
Open Houses & Showings
We have all become accustomed to the phrase “social distancing”. Large scale, high-traffic weekend open houses will certainly be foregone in favor of small private showings to limit cross-contamination by food or physical contact. While seeing properties, prospective buyers will be discouraged from touching door handles and cabinet knobs or using the restroom in a seller’s home. Guests may be asked to sign-in and provide contact information so that in the unfortunate circumstance that someone does fall ill, any party who may have been exposed can be notified.
Mail Away Closings
The State of Florida does not require everyone to be present at the closing table to finalize a real estate transaction. In fact, it’s a rarity that a buyer and seller ever meet. Documents can be delivered by overnight mail and funds can be transferred by wire. If needed, attorneys or agents can act on behalf of buyers and sellers using a power of attorney. Be aware that lenders may have specific closing practices and it is best to stay in contact with them through the entire process. This scenario may be especially helpful if you are an out of state buyer and are unable to travel to Florida to close on a property.
Patience & Understanding
Despite the additional precautions being taking by the real estate industry, in times of uncertainty buyers may hesitate to take action for fear of changing market conditions, while others are anxious to strike a deal with the lack of competition. Equally, sellers may be uneasy to open their homes to strangers. Unlike crises of the past, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has a limited lifespan, life will get back to normal and the fundamentals of the real estate market are strong. If circumstances were telling you it was time to make a real estate move prior to this outbreak, consider these next few weeks a blessing. Use this time to prepare and research. If you have any questions about buying, selling or previewing homes during the coming weeks and months, please reach out. As always, I’m here to help!