There is no question everyone’s lives have been dramatically impacted by the arrival of the coronavirus, and the Stay-At-Home Order put in place by Governor Newsom on March 19th. And true all over the US and around the world.
Significant food and supply shortages, social distancing, frequent hand washing, sanitizing, layoffs/furloughs and dramatic increases in unemployment claims, schools closed, many more people working at home…the list goes on. And sadly there are the casualties, and those who have been positively diagnosed.
It’s a new normal in the real estate world, too. And if you are a buyer or seller, you probably know this all too well, or are finding out.
The initial Stay-at-Home Order did not include real estate services in the list of essential businesses that could operate, other than home building. While that has now been modified the real estate services that can take place in person are limited, and things are being done a bit differently than just a couple of weeks ago.
We are all learning new ways to stay connected and accomplish what needs to be done, in our personal lives and in the real estate business.
Homes are still being listed and going pending, and are closing; stay tuned for some market updates for March, and then April so we will have a clearer picture of what’s happening in the market, inventory went up in Carlsbad for March as did the number of sales, compared to February. That may shift in April.
With the Stay-at-Home Order in place, an over-arching goal, of course, is to avoid contact with others in all aspects of the home selling and buying process – from marketing, to showings, to negotiations and finally closings.
Some would-be sellers have decided to hold off selling for the time being, and some homes that were active on the market have been withdrawn for an indefinite period. Buyers are actively searching online but some are holding off looking at properties in person.
In-person house showings are strongly discouraged and being replaced by virtual showings (e.g., via Facetime or Skype), virtual open houses, and virtual (video) walk-throughs. Open Houses are not allowed, which makes perfect sense!
Appointments to see a home are usually now required and spaced out, often accompanied with a pre-approval letter from the buyer before showing to show they are qualified to buy a home of that price. And the number of people attending a showing are limited.
Sellers are requested to not be present (which is a good practice normally anyhow), and all recommendations from the CDC (hand washing, sanitizing with wipes, wearing gloves and booties, no touching of surfaces, etc.) are expected to be followed by buyers, sellers, and agents.
In-person communications should be replaced by phone, text or email whenever possible.
The California Association of Realtors has announced very specific requirements, and has just developed several new legal forms/disclosures developed specifically to deal with the coronavirus – (1) a contract addendum regarding how to deal with any delays with lenders or closing; (2) written acknowledgement from anyone entering a home (buyer, agent, contractors, inspectors) as well as by the seller (or tenants) that they are aware of the CDC recommendations on how to protect themselves and will observe them, and to also declare they are asymptomatic.
We already use electronic signatures (e.g., Docusign) to handle all paperwork, from offers to counter offer to disclosures to escrow documents. Escrow and title companies are still operating and doing what they need to do virtually.
Our closings are behind the scenes and records offices are committed to getting deeds recorded on time electronically, although some delays may occur if paperwork is submitted by mail. And I’ve heard that notarizing documents (e.g., loan docs, deeds) can be done virtually in some cases.
If you would like to ask any questions or talk further about buying or selling in the Carlsbad area or simply what’s going on in the market, I am happy to do so virtually, including using Facetime or Skype. Just reach out to me at (760) 840-1360 (call/text) and we can set a time to talk when it’s convenient for you.