COVID-19 is changing the way we do business and how we handle our personal lives. This year, we’ve seen both a global pandemic and record high home sales. How has the real estate industry adjusted to ensure their clients’ safety and peace of mind during the homebuying process?
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the safety precautions and alternate approaches to in-person meetings real estate professionals have adopted to facilitate safe transactions during the current health crisis.
Digital technology has been one of our strongest allies this year. If we had encountered the coronavirus 25 years ago, there’s no telling where we would be today. Fortunately, living in the digital age has armed us with solutions for nearly every problem we’ve been faced with this year. Transitioning to working from home, helping our kids attend virtual classes, ordering curbside pickup, and shopping online have resulted in consumers across all demographics being far more comfortable navigating digital landscapes.
The real estate industry has shifted a lot of its traditionally in-person interactions to a virtual environment using tools like Zoom and FaceTime. Agents and buyers are signing up for virtual home tours in lieu of open houses. Some real estate professionals are even using electronic signing methods to facilitate the final sale of properties without having to meet in-person.
Showing Homes Safely
Many people are going to be hesitant about purchasing a home without seeing it at all. To minimize unnecessary exposure, many real estate agents are restricting physical viewings to only the most serious buyers. When it comes to showing homes, the industry has become very careful and cautious about social distancing and sanitation. Some additional safety measures we’ve seen this year include:
Asking anyone who enters a home to take off their shoes off and put on booties
Making sure everyone present is wearing a mask
Reducing physical contact with surfaces such as doorknobs and drapes by leaving doors and drapes open
Having hand sanitizer available in multiple locations throughout the home
Respecting the boundaries of both buyers and sellers by socially distancing
Ensuring the house is vacant when showing a home. Limit who can come through the home during the viewing—children, for example. In some cases, buyers are being asked to enter alone without their agent
Cleaning and disinfecting the home thoroughly between showings
Agents and potential homebuyers driving in separate cars to viewings and appointments
Streamlined Solutions for Home Appraisals
In the midst of this year’s COVID-19-related challenges, many homeowners are refinancing their homes to cut expenses and take advantage of historically low interest rates. This has led to an influx of appraisals that need to be completed in the middle of a global pandemic.
The resulting industry solution has been the adoption and acceptance of alternative appraisal options to include hybrid valuations. A hybrid valuation can be completed by an appraiser without ever having to visit the property. Instead, a licensed or certified appraiser conducts market research, analyzes data from recent home sales and MLS records, and uses additional resources to help them determine the home’s value. Hybrid appraisals are an elegant solution to social distancing guidelines and they also tend to speed up the appraisal process.
Socially Distanced Property Inspections
The real estate industry is approaching home and property inspections a little differently this year. Digital technology has played a big role, as state-of-the-art apps have been created to increase accuracy and efficiency in the absence of in-person inspections. Using photographs of the exterior and interior of the house by a third party, an inspector can upload all required photos, to include interior, exterior, repair, and upgrade pictures to these apps help them make an assessment.
Many appraisers and real estate agents are also conducting drive-by property inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic. While viewing the property from the outside doesn’t offer a full picture, it indicates to the real estate professional whether the home seems well cared for, how much curbside appeal it has, and the quality of the neighborhood in which it is situated.
Purchasing a home—especially for the first time—can be an exciting and stressful venture under the best circumstances. Navigating the homebuying and selling process in the midst of a pandemic can make it even more daunting. If we’ve learned anything this year, though, it’s the importance of having a safe and happy space for you and your family to share during this difficult time.
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