Contrary to what you might think, the real estate market has not closed down. Over the last two weeks alone, our agents have listed two properties over $1m that had accepted offers within 5 days of listing - a situation more typical of a busy Spring Market. A combination of limited inventory, low interest rates, and pent up demand means that homes are still selling. “Despite the uncertainty around COVID-19, we are seeing that properly priced homes in popular areas are still in demand” says Broker / Owner Anne Spry. Naomi DeLairre agrees “We are still seeing multiple offers, even on homes in the higher price ranges”. So if you are thinking of buying or selling, how can you do it without compromising your health and safety? Here are a few changes that the real estate industry has made to adapt to the new normal, and some things that you can do to make the process run smoothly.
Listing Your Home
You’ve made the decision to sell your home, now you need to choose an agent to work with. Our agents are all available for virtual meetings to discuss how they will market your home, and our listing presentation materials are all available electronically for you to view and discuss with your realtor either in person or on a call. They are happy to arrange a time to come and tour your home when you will be out, and use gloves, a mask, shoe covers and wipes to keep the home clean. They will also talk to you about the marketplace, and the pros and cons of selling during the current time, so you can make an informed no-pressure decision.
More so now than ever, it makes sense to get your finances in order. For buyers, talk to your mortgage broker or bank about getting a pre-approval in place before you start looking. “Some List Agents will want to see a letter of pre-approval, or proof of funds if not financed, before allowing you to view a home.” says Ann Basmaji. As a seller, you might want to consider whether you want your Listing Agent to do the same - this way you know that the only people coming into your home are serious and committed about buying.
We have many ways to enable potential buyers to view your home virtually, be that through a professional video, a video phone walk-through, or a full-on virtual tour. Take advantage of these to check out a home’s potential before you go through a physical viewing. “I’ve used Matterport to help clients view the inside of the home, as well as the floor plans and measurements. Matterport provides great details and is very easy to use” says Matt Asdornvuttikrai. Some towns will not allow in-person viewings unless a home is vacant so check with your agent if that applies where you are looking, and if you are selling consider if you want to vacate the home to allow for in-person showings. For the viewing itself, only the decision-makers will be allowed in the property - usually a max of 2 people plus their realtor. Masks, gloves, and shoe covers are typically required - ask your agent if these will be provided or if you should bring your own. Erica Carson explains “When viewing homes my clients and I wear masks and gloves. I also bring Clorox wipes with me to showings in the event that we touch anything in the home. A lot of the time a listing broker will have their clients open all doors to closets, rooms, and turn on lights so that you don’t have to touch anything.” Your agent may offer to remain outside the property but you could FaceTime them or use other technology as you go around to ask questions in real time.
Negotiating an Offer
When it comes to putting together an offer, the terms that go with it are becoming increasingly important. “When considering multiple offers we are looking at more than just price, the terms play a more significant role” says Anne. For example, sellers may prefer an offer that waives an inspection, to limit the number of people in their home. However inspections are still taking place, so you shouldn’t feel this is something you have to forgo. Your agent will be able to advise you on the best course of action knowing your comfort level. Both sellers and buyers should talk to their agent about how to protect against changes outside of their control due to COVID-19. Matt says “it is important that both parties agree ahead of time that if there is a situation where COVID-19 becomes a factor, there is extra time allowed in the contract for both buyers and sellers to adapt.” If you have concerns about the physical act of moving out of the home, you might also want to consider asking to “rent-back” the property for a short period. This allows the sale of the home to go ahead in a timely manner and means you can remain in the home until movement restrictions are lifted.
Having made it through the offer process, completed the home inspection, and secured finance, the closing is the final step to securing your home. Again, changes have been made to accommodate COVID-19 safety precautions. The only two parties who need to physically meet are the buyers and the closing attorney, and this can easily be facilitated in a large space where they can remain socially distant. “We have a large meeting room in our office where the two parties can remain at least 6ft apart at all times. We provide separate pens, everyone wears masks and we provide wipes too” says Anne. The remainder of the closing can be contact-free, with papers exchanged without people needing to meet. In MA there is now provision for Virtual Notarization - check with your attorney if this applies in your circumstance.
Ultimately the decision on whether this is the right time for you to move or invest in property is in your hands. The important thing to know is that everyone is co-operating to make sure that those who decide to move can still do it safely. Katie Tully sums it up perfectly “Buyers are out there, sellers are willing, and we are here to make it happen safely.”
Ready to make a move? Contact one of our experienced agents for a no-obligation chat about the market.