If you own a home you are thinking about selling, or need to sell for one reason or another, you may be wondering if it’s possible to sell your house during our pandemic, in light of all the state and county restrictions that are currently in place plus the safety concerns.
And are buyers out there looking and buying? More on that later. If you are a buyer also, you might want to read the 8 Things to Know About Buying a Home During the Pandemic (it’s similar information).
The answer is yes, you can, if you are serious about selling and will to do what’s necessary in today’s housing market. It’s a different market these days, with some new procedures as a result of Covid-19. As a seller it’s important to understand how the showing and sales process works since it’s a little different than it used to be, in order to keep everyone safe and comply with the state and county requirements, and recommendations from our state Association of Realtors.
Here’s are some recommendations to help sell your home, and keep everyone as safe as possible while complying with restrictions!
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HOME SELLING DURING THE PANDEMIC
1. While photos and videos are always important, they have become essential these days. Make sure your agent will use virtual tours, including 3D tours and maybe walk-through videos, and lots of high quality photos to showcase your home. You want to provide as much information to buyers as possible before they ever step foot in your home. It’s easier these days to get vendors in to homes for photo shoots and videography than in the early days of the Shelter-in-Place (SIP order) when many would not perform these services.
2. Sellers and their agent often request that buyers view all the listing information including photos and videos first before setting up a showing to be sure they really want to see the home. Some agents ask buyer agents to verify buyers have done so (this is optional).
3. Sellers and listing agents now commonly request that all buyers present a current pre-approval, or Proof of Funds (POF) for cash offers, before a showing can be scheduled. This makes sense, as it helps to ensure the buyers coming through your home are financially qualified to purchase it. And getting pre-approved is a strong sign of a serious and qualified buyer.
4. We have a new form in the California real estate arena called the Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration (PEAD Form, from the California Association of Realtors). As the seller you should sign this to authorize access to your property, but to also acknowledge you understand the risks and agree to take certain precautions (e.g., sanitizing surfaces before and after showings).
The form is also a way for you to declare that you are not sick, do not have any Covid-19 symptoms and have not been exposed to someone who is sick in the last 14 days.
Your listing agent, plus buyer agents, buyers, inspectors, and others who want to access the property, should also sign the PEAD form to acknowledge they understand the risks and will take appropriate precautions (e.g., masks, social distancing). This should be done before showings or other access is granted.
Part of the PEAD form states that “you represent that (i) to the best of your knowledge, you are not currently afflicted with, and have not knowingly, within the last 14 days, been in contact with someone afflicted with COVID-19, and (ii) you are not experiencing a fever, or signs of respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or other COVID-19 symptoms.”
5. Buyers and their agents should be reminded to follow all the Covid-19 guidelines including wearing a mask, observing social distancing of at least 6 feet, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after each showing. Gloves are recommended as well – some sellers and listing agents provide them. You may also ask buyers to wear paper booties.
6. Before a showing you or someone else should sanitize surfaces – counters, light switches, door knobs, and so on. It’s also a good idea to leave all lights on so buyers do not have to turn them on, and leave all doors (e.g., closets, certain cabinets) open so buyers do not need to touch them. While it’s a good practice to tell buyers to not touch surfaces and open doors, make it easy to resist that temptation. This is protection for all parties. The buyer agent, when wearing gloves, can open doors, etc. as needed but buyers should not.
7. Some sellers may wonder if they can sell their home without actually showing it. Yes, it’s possible, although it will limit the potential pool of qualified buyers since most will want to actually see a home before deciding to buy it. While most homes these days can be seen in person, a few homes are only available to see through a virtual tour (typically homes that are occupied and where sellers are higher risk, not vacant homes), hosted by the listing agent via Facebook Live, Zoom or other technology.
There is technology to create 3D virtual tours (e.g., with Matterport) and walk-through videos to provide as much information to buyers as possible. If you were to choose to not allow group showings, buyer agents could be permitted to show their clients your home using technology such as Facebook Live or Facetime.
8. For now we are not supposed to hold public or agent open houses. But another opportunity is for a listing agent to provide a virtual open house using Facetime, Facebook live, Skype or Zoom. This can be announced in advance in Facebook so interested buyers can tune in to watch.
9. Another suggestion is to limit showings to 2 people, from the same household, and the buyer agent only – no children, relatives or friends should accompany. It’s reasonable to request that showings be scheduled in advance, after your agent has received the appropriate pre-approval and signed PEAD form(s), and to not have appointments that might overlap with other scheduled showings.
BUYER ACTIVITY DURING THE PANDEMIC
Buyers ARE out buying. Homes are going pending, and closing, and at a pretty good clip, and we have seen some inventory increases as well. Market conditions vary from Carlsbad to Oceanside, from Encinitas to San Marcos, and so on. A number of communities are still very much a seller’s market. However, some of the high end communities like Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla are more balanced markets or even favor buyers.
NEXT STEPS FOR SELLERS
If you would like to know more about selling a home in today’s market, or are curious about how the housing market conditions, please reach out to me at (760) 840-1360 and I’ll be happy to tell you more and answer all your questions! And if you are interested in selling, we can discuss your equity and a comparative market analysis, then talk about your plans and timing so we can craft a strategy to get your home sold for the best price.
All of these recommendations are in addition to the usual important considerations for any seller – pricing your home correctly for the market, curb appeal, interior and exterior condition, having your home look its best for showings including staging, and taking care of any repairs and deferred maintenance.
When you hire someone to help sell your home be sure to discuss any concerns and questions you have with your agent, who may also have some suggestions for making showings accessible, but also as safe as possible for you and for buyers.
Make sure you and your agent agree on the showing instructions that agents should follow so they can be spelled out in the MLS clearly, and buyer agents and their clients will know what is expected.