How Can I Sell My Home During a Pandemic?

Posted on

Jun 09, 2020

I spent January, February and early March helping many folks who were at different stages of downsizing. Some knew they had a home waiting for them in one of the Homestead Communities, while others were moving out of the area to be closer to grandchildren. None of them expected a moratorium on real estate activities.
Those early days were filled with questions by my Sellers, leading me to research and uncover answers for what was essentially new territory in real estate...it was quite an adventure. It has led to much evolution and change in the buying and selling of homes. New technologies have emerged, new forms have been authored, new strategies have been adopted. Proactive agents have adapted and helped their buyers and sellers to do the same.
So, where are we now?
To start, as of Wednesday May 20th, real estate has been deemed essential by the Governor. This means that regardless of Red, Yellow, or Green designations, people across the State can buy and sell homeswith restrictions. These restrictions focus on the human interaction portion of the buying/selling process, and most elements will make sense. Lets touch on the highlights.
The guidelines below apply to all business that support real estate. This means Realtors, appraisers, inspectors, notaries, title companies, etcshould operate by these standards.
Showings are allowed no more than 3 people can be in attendance. Typically, this will be the realtor and 2 others. Social distancing protocols must to be followed.

No Open Houses showings shall be by appointment only as per above.
Visitors shall avoid touching surfaces, items in a home.
Seller should have lights on, doors/cabinets open, to minimize the need to touch surfaces in the home.
Anything touched during a showing must be sanitized before the next visit.
Allow for 30 minutes between each showing
Any in-person activity (showing, appraisal, inspection) shall require the use of a face mask
Verbal screening of a visitors health must occur 24 hours prior to the visit.
Name/Contact information must be gathered for each in-person visit (for purposes of contact tracing) and kept on file by the Realtor.
When possible, viewing a home online first is recommended
When possible, the use of electronic signatures is recommended
No materials to be left out (marketing materials) or left behind (business cards)
A Property Access Notice (PAN) form must be signed by Seller and anyone doing in-person activity at the property. This is a new Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) form and is required.
A Seller should be provided with CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting a home by their Realtor.

As you can see the State is taking this seriously, and so you and your realtor should too. What are the practical implications of this and what should you think through?
First How strong is the virtual presentation of your home? Is the home staged? Professionally photographed? Is there a virtual tour? Is there a 3D tour (allowing you to move through the home and pan left or right at the click of the mouse)?
With the emphasis on using an online viewing before visiting a home make sure your home shines and is fully marketed. From my own experience, Ive had my listings professionally photographed and staged for the last 10 yearsit makes a BIG difference. More recently Ive used virtual tours in the last few years, and have now begun to use the 3D tour for homes. As times change so should the tools your Realtor brings to the table.
Second How will you handle the cleaning of a home post-showing? Will you return to do it after each showing? Will you expect the Buyers agent to clean? Who provides the cleaning materials? What happens with the trash produced as a result?
None of these are difficult questions but it will be critical for Sellers and their Realtor to create a plan for the process. In my experience, I would have the home properly prepared so visitors will only need to touch surfaces minimally, if at all. To that end, if anything is touched I would ask the Buyers agent to clean those surfaces since they will have firsthand knowledge and know what specifically to clean. I do recommend that the Seller provide appropriate cleaning materials. As a Seller, you may have special cleaning solutions for different parts of your homea brass door knob for exampleand a disinfecting wipe with bleach may not be the best choice for every surface. I would also provide plastic bags (like the ones from the grocery store) that can be used to transport out of the home (by the person visiting) any trash that is generated.
I have created simple document for my Sellers that allow them to indicate how they want showings handled, along with any special instructions on cleaning, where cleaning supplies will be located, and a place to indicate other concerns. I provide this completed form to all agents or other visitors so all parties can know the expectation. Again, as times change so must we and Ive found my Sellers have appreciated the forethought.
Third Confirm that your Realtor will be asking the screening questions on the health of visitors, and will be gathering the name and contact of all visitors. This may seem obvious since it is a requirement issued by the Governor, but of all the guidelines issued regarding real estate this is the one Ive heard the most argument regarding. I wont debate the merits of these two guidelines, but would suggest that whether I agree or not I must abide by them.
In closing, Ive heard the phrase the new normal used quite a bit during this pandemic. It is often said with a bit of sarcasm and regret for what weve lost over these months. There has indeed been loss weve experienced and there are changes we are learning to live with. I choose to use the phrase the current normal because circumstances will continue to cause us to adaptit is part of life. And in truth, not all change is bad. I trust you are well, adapting to the current normal and I wish you success in selling!
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This article was written by Mike Julian. He is an agent with Realty One Group Unlimited and is a Director of theCertain SaleRetirementLiving Program.

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