Were you in the middle of buying or selling a home when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic first struck the US? In the wake of social distancing, lockdowns, job losses, and a dwindling economy, you may have looming questions about where to go from here.
Although the coronavirus has impacted the real estate industry in unprecedented and unpredictable ways, you should know it’s still possible to buy and sell a home right now.
By applying strategic thinking, leveraging your creativity, and working with the right realtor, you can achieve the desired outcome.
Let’s explore five tips to buy a home and five tips for selling a home during COVID-19.
Buying a home
1. Find the right real estate agent
It’s wise to meet with several real estate agents using a web conferencing tool like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or WebEx, among others.
You can discover whether you have rapport, you feel comfortable with them, and you trust they understand your expectations in a home — all from a safe distance.
2. Get pre-approved
Thanks to the internet, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage in minutes. Getting a pre-approval is an essential step before shopping for or making an offer on the house.
It can show what you can afford (based on your credit score, income, and debt), set you up for success in realtors’ and sellers’ eyes, and create a better, smoother mortgage process when the time comes.
3. Tour homes online
To follow social distancing guidelines and keep everyone involved safe, it’s best to tour homes online. In many cases, due to how sellers have had to adapt to the coronavirus, you can experience virtual 3D tours, professional photography, and other videos to help you learn about the home and picture yourself there.
The best part?
You can tour any home, from any distance, all from practically any electronic device — saving you time and money.
4. Wear protective gear if you tour onsite
If you’ve expressed serious intent in buying a home, and you feel more comfortable visiting the home in-person before making an offer, you can ask the realtor or seller to come onsite.
In the event protective gear isn’t available at the house, make sure to wear a mask, gloves, and shoe coverings to tour it safely.
5. Sign closing documents digitally
Thanks to digital tools like DocuSign, you can sign closing documents between you, the agent, and the seller exclusively online instead of meeting in person and risking infection.
Anyone can upload documents, send them securely to the appropriate recipient, and sign as needed.
Selling a home
1. Clean and stage your home
When preparing your home to sell digitally, cleaning and staging become even more critical. Chances are, most buyers won’t be able to come to your home for an in-person showing due to the coronavirus.
By taking the time to clean and stage your house in a way that highlights the best features, you can impress any buyer near and far.
2. Embrace virtual tour technology
Once your home is in pristine condition, you and your agent can arrange a virtual tour company, like Matterport, to create a 3D tour.
This allows buyers to experience all corners of your home (or as much as the camera can reach), ask questions about certain features and rooms, and explore just as they would for an in-person showing. Plus, virtual tours help keep everyone safe.
3. Consider live-streaming
Beyond 3D tours, why not arrange live-streaming appointments with buyers? With a plethora of options at your disposal, like Facebook and Instagram Live, FaceTime, and YouTube, you can also customize the privacy settings of your live-stream.
This way, only the intended people will see the live-stream. Plus, buyers can ask questions on the spot, as though they’re present in-person.
4. Provide protective gear for solo onsite tours
If you want to allow serious buyers, tour your house before sealing the deal, arrange separate appointments for each and provide them with protective gear.
It’s also best you’re not in the house to limit potential exposure to COVID-19. In this case, you can use a smart lockbox with one-time codes that will allow a buyer to access the property. If you insist on being present, maintain a distance of at least six feet and ensure everyone in the home is wearing masks.
5. Avoid hiking the home price
Due to the financial toll that COVID-19 has caused millions of people in the US (and around the world), it’s wise to be realistic in your expectations and avoid hiking your home price.
Many buyers may feel more cautious about what they’re willing to spend on a new home. So consult with your agent to determine a selling price that’s fair for the current economic conditions.
For more on COVID-19 and the real estate comeback, check out HomeLight’s Top Agent Insight Survey from Q2.