Jim Valentine: Real estate in pandemic times
While we cautioned about a virus impacting the market in our article at the end of February, little did we know how quickly and thoroughly it could become a reality and actually decimate financial confidences. We’ve all now seen it occur and the resulting changes to many industries necessitated in the interest of public safety. Most people are adapting well and continuing with “business as unusual”. Changes are occurring through mandates and common sense in our everyday world. That includes the real estate industry.
We have received notice of changed practices from all of our primary vendors and business associates. These include escrow/title companies, lenders, the MLS staff, Board of Realtors staff, etc. All are very similar in their position and practices. Here are some examples. They are limiting face to face contact where possible. For instance, title companies are asking that only the people signing the documents attend a signing. They’ve requested that the Agents and Lenders that might otherwise attend stay away or call in and attend by phone.
They are disinfecting the table where the signing occurred and offering that the customer keep the pen they used to sign or they will “dispose of it properly”. Signings are being moved to the front of the office to minimize the passage of strangers through their office. Everyone will be asking four basic questions, i.e.- 1. Do you have a fever?, 2. Do you have a cough, or are experiencing difficulty breathing or shortness of breath?, 3. Have you had contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID–19? 4. If you have traveled outside the United States within the past 14 days, do you have signs of fever or respiratory illness, including cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath?. If Buyers answer “yes” to any of them they may not enter a Listing.
Agents will also be changing how they work. Rather than driving the customer to a property showing they will now, more often than not, meet them at the property so as to maintain Social Distancing, a phrase and practice that we’ve all learned in the past few weeks. Open Houses are best postponed to avoid the social interaction that occurs. Hands will be frequently washed or disinfected as will the Agent’s automobile, desk, etc. Many office cleaning companies are disinfecting the offices that have public visitors multiple times a week.
These sudden and drastic changes in our society have caused many to wonder what will happen to the economy, to the real estate market, to their lives. We believe that calm should prevail and everything will be fine. The stock market is dropping, but that is usually a prelude to a strong real estate market as investors change their manner of investment from stocks to like real estate. Remember, too, where our Buyers primarily come from. This event will enhance their desire to relocate to our region. Plan on communicating more by text, phone and email, and seeing properties via video rather than going through multiple homes. Agents will have to adjust their practices and give you more than a few pictures that zoom in and out but don’t show you everything you need to buy a home remotely. Yes, buy remotely, a sign of the times. It is safe if done right. Your Agent can help you proceed in a manner that will allow you to be comfortable while accomplishing your objectives.
Our Advice: Remember the immortal words of Lennon/Mcartney, “Ob la di, ob la da, life goes on …”. Be safe, be smart, but don’t pause your life unnecessarily if you are able to keep moving albeit in a modified manner. When the virus vanishes through our collective vanquishment efforts a lot of people will want to play catch up. You don’t have to be part of the pack if you don’t want to be. Contact your Agent and make a plan on how to buy or sell your home and execute it. Victory will be yours!
This situation is changing daily and even hourly. The information contained herein was cutting edge at the time of its writing, but events may have occurred in the intervening time prior to publishing that may cause some of it to be dated. Contact your active Agent for the latest real estate industry information.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. email@example.com