Tuesday, April 7, 2020 / by Vanessa Saunders
From Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems Real Estate.
If you are in the process of trying to buy or sell a home, this is an unsettling time for every party involved. According to the New York State Association of Realtors, " the state's Essential Services Directive (ESD) guidance extremely limits what real estate functions are deemed essential for the purpose of (Realtor) licensee and public safety. We urge that you work from home to the greatest extent possible."
Lenders, title and escrow companies, attorneys inspectors, moving companies and anyone else who makes the transaction happen have been affected. Buyers and sellers should expect a new way of doing business, and not just for the short term. Here are six things buyers and sellers need to understand even when pandemic restriction are lifted.
1. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Across the country, the way homes are shown and sold will change significantly. Not every seller or occupant may be comfortable with strangers going into their home. Your exposure becomes their exposure. Sellers may request buyers to remove shoes and wear disposable booties, leave unnecessary items outside the front door, use hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes, and not touch anything in a private residence during a showing.
Some sellers in states where real estate is considered an essential service are limiting the time prospective buyers spend viewing a home. Sales activity will vary depending on price and location but it will slow down across the board. More buyers who are staying home will be using their computers to make short lists. Homes with video walk-throughs, 3D, or Augmented Reality viewing will definitely have an advantage. Some buyers may even buy a property sight unseen, like many of the out of state and global buyers we deal with.
2. All steps of the deal will involve social distancing.
Agents and clients will drive in separate vehicles. Agents have directions from the National Association of Realtors to ask clients about their recent travel history and if they've seen anyone sick or with a fever. There will be few if any open houses. Buyers and agents will likely need to establish a mutually agreed-upon location away from the agent's office, probably out doors. Just yesterday we heard of agents asking clients to sign "Hold Harmless" agreements should someone contract COVID-19 from involvement in a real estate transaction.
3. Now is not a good time for buyers to drive a hard bargain.
While throwing low-ball offers at sellers may have been part of the game before, it's got to stop. While they certainly can negotiate, buyers trying to rub salt in the wound of what’s already a trying time will not be appreciated or celebrated. Don’t approach an offer with the intention of playing to a seller’s vulnerabilities or an overblown sense of despair in the market.
4. Expect delays.
Buyers and sellers must understand and plan for delays at any part of a real estate transaction that requires human presence. Inspections, appraisals, loan processing and underwriting, as well as issuing the clear to close and getting the package from the lender to the title company, will be challenging during this time.
5. Curb your expectations.
These are unpredictable times, and no one has all the answers. What happens today might be different tomorrow, or may be dealt with by brokers, legislators and realtor associations in entirely unexpected ways. Who knew that the discovery of two NBA players testing positive for COVID-19 would result in the cancellations of all professional sports in America for the foreseeable future.
6. Get comfortable with the unknown.
Previously, agents used past results and prior outcomes to predict the future. How long will a sale take? What will a home be worth in 30, 60, or 90 days? Whether you're buying or selling, stay flexible. Try to focus on the process as it unfolds, and not expect a guaranteed outcome.
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