The rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the real estate industry and is requiring real estate agents to adapt quickly to a new way of working.
As a full-service, digital real estate brokerage, REX agents are adept at working virtually and many of our processes are conducted online, so we feel more ready than most to take on the challenges of this new normal.
Since no one knows when it will be business as usual, how should buyers and sellers navigate these uncharted waters? While we don’t have all the answers right now, the one thing we do know is that there are some new realities that you should prepare for in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health & safety measures
During COVID-19, real estate agents are being urged by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to do virtual showings and to limit in-person activity to prevent the spread of the virus in communities. Even in states where in-person real estate is allowed, at open houses buyers may be asked:
- to remove shoes and wear booties when entering
- leave unnecessary items outside the front door
- use hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes
- refrain from touching anything in a private residence during a showing
- keep the viewing time to a minimum
If local, state, or federal shelter-in-place orders are in force, real estate agents can still conduct business and serve clients remotely by “leveraging available technology, and alternative ways to market properties.”
NAR has provided guidance for realtors based on current directives from the WHO, the CDC and the White House which you can read here on their website.
When social distancing or sheltering-in-place has been ordered by authorities, the Internet and your phone are your new best friends. When REX agents are not able to visit a home in person, they can set up a virtual home consultation via video chat or phone for potential sellers and schedule virtual showings for buyers.
Sellers also have the option of either using a REX agent to conduct an open home by video with viewers at scheduled times, or conduct it themselves with their phone or tablet. Making use of this technology is a great way to show potential buyers your home without physical interaction, all you have to do is sit back and wait for an offer.
If you’re worried that you won’t get any virtual viewers for your home, the data suggests otherwise. Between February and April 2020, our virtual home tour feature jumped by 940% since buyers are spending lots more time at home, and everyone is using the Internet to search and view houses.
Patience is a virtue
If you have time up your sleeve, then now is a great time to list your home with REX. If you’ve already listed your home, then you don’t need to pull it off the market. We can’t emphasize that enough. There are opportunities for home sales for sellers who have the forbearance to weather this storm.
With interest rates at an all-time low, the conditions are set for mortgage rates to stay that way for the balance of 2020. Low mortgage rates mean buyers will be enticed out to shop, so even if the housing supply drops, as it likely will, if you list your home or keep it on the market, you’ll have less competition.
In saying that, patience will be a huge virtue whether you’re looking to buy a home or sell one right now. You’ll need to be flexible and prepared for delays with some facets of the real estate process.
REX is set up to handle many of these processes online, including mortgages, titles, escrow and insurance. However, home sales that require human interaction, such as house inspections and appraisals, may result in a slightly longer closing period.
Stay level-headed and respectful
It goes without saying that making a fair offer for a home will be much more appreciated by a seller than a low-ball offer. No doubt there will be buyers who will be on the hunt for a bargain due to these unusual circumstances, but this isn’t the time to try and take advantage of the situation.
If you approach a seller with a fair offer, a willingness to negotiate and have flexibility around the closing date, then you could be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. If you want to take advantage of something, take advantage of the low mortgage rates, the current market is prime for buying right now.
We would also caution sellers trying to hold out for a ridiculously high price and unreasonable concessions. There’s no guarantee what the market will do in the coming months. The price you get now might be infinitely better than the one you get if you wait.
Overall, buyers and sellers need to take a level-headed and respectful approach when it comes to making and accepting offers. Everyone is feeling uncertain at this time, and no one is exempt.
There are still things you can control
Even though it may not feel like it, there are still things you can control in this climate of uncertainty. You have a choice. A seller can pull their home off the market or keep it listed and see what happens. Likewise, a buyer can abandon their property search or keep looking by attending virtual showings.
You also don’t have to let every doom and gloom headline affect your actions. If you do, you may regret a hasty knee-jerk decision a few weeks or months down the track when things are looking more positive. Often staying the course is the best decision and will reap you more rewards in the future.
As a digital alternative to the traditional real estate broker, REX is also constantly looking at all the different ways we can help make things easier for our clients during this challenging time. Fortunately, with our state-of-the-art technology platform, we’re well set up for conducting the vast majority of buying and selling real estate business online and in a single location.