New Real Estate Rules Under Social Distancing

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Buying or selling a home can be stressful even under ordinary circumstances. Unfortunately, the current state of the world is far from ordinary.  The housing market is feeling the crunch, as fewer buyers want to get out and shop for a home, and fewer sellers want to take a risk with selling.  This isn't to say that nobody's buying and selling, the market is just going through some changes.

One of the biggest changes revolves around how buyers and sellers are handling social isolation and social distancing.  If you're thinking of selling, or are in the market to buy, here are a few new "rules" to keep in mind when entering the real estate fray in this era of self-isolation.

Increasing Online Presence 

One of the big changes to the real estate process is an increased dependence on online resources instead of in-person shopping.  This includes lots of pictures and videos of properties being posted online, but many sellers are taking things even further than this.  Recorded virtual tours, online conferences to allow buyers to ask questions about the property, and even livestream walk throughs with a seller or agent showing the property, are all increasingly popular otpions to supplement or even replace in-person showings and conferences.

Fewer Open Houses 

Open houses are a popular way to show off a property to many potential buyers, but in the current crisis, these events are a big no-no.  In many areas, open houses aren't even allowed under state and federal regulations.  In states where they haven't specifically been banned, many sellers are still hesitant to hold an event that would bring multiple people into close contact with each other.  Online "virtual open house" conferences are popping up as one option to adapt to this, letting multiple potential buyers come together on Zoom or a similar video conferencing service at the same time to get a better feel for the property that's being sold.

More One-on-One Time

As convenient as online access and virtual tours are during the current isolation period, few if any buyers would sign on the dotted line without getting a chance to see the property in person  To accomodate this, many sellers and agents are meeting with potential buyers by appointment only.  This lets a potential buyer get a good look at the home while also restricting the size of the meeting as much as possible.  Many of these appointments are made with the understanding that if any participant feels under the weather on the day of the appointment, then it will need to be rescheduled for another time.

Respect Social Distancing

Even when buyers and sellers do meet up, the process is a little different than it used to be.  Social distancing rules should be respected, meaning that everyone involved should stay at least 6 feet apart at all times to prevent potential infection.  Discussions about the home and general questions and answers are more likely to occur outdoors in the open air, and any greeting or introductions, skip out on traditional handshakes.  Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer are commonly available on site, and many sellers go through and open all of the doors and windows to both maximize airflow and to allow interested buyers access to the entire house without having to touch doorknobs or other surfaces in order to see inside.  

Closing Remotely

Remote closiing negotiations are becoming much more common, taking advantage of video conferencing to bring everyone together without actually having to be in the same room.  There may be some instances where people have to meet up to actually sign paperwork, but digital signing is becoming more common because it removes that point of contact.  Even when people do come together for closing and signing, it's much more likely that everyone will utilize social distancing and that all parties will use their own pens instead of sharing.  

For more information on how The Prime Time Home Team can help you buy or sell a home during this time of social distancing, give us a call at (813) 359-0880.

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