Seller and buyer safety during coronavirus/COVID-19

Posted by Dan Miller, REALTOR on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 at 6:14am.

We're all adjusting to new ways of living, and for our clients and team, new ways of buying and selling real estate. During this period of social distancing, here are a few of the measures that we're evaluating and implementing in order to protect the health of our clients, staff, and the larger community. We understand we'll need to continually evolve our practices as we adjust to the events around us. 

How we're practicing real estate and social distancing

Working remotely and meeting virtually

Our agents and staff are now working from home and using conference calls and Zoom to conduct our team meetings. We're also carrying out buyer and seller consultations with conference calls and Zoom. 

Using technology to conduct staging consultations

Debbie Lea, our home staging consultant, is now conducting staging consultations remotely. She's facilitating her appointments via FaceTime and Skype. She's also having clients send her photos of each room, and then Debbie is providing specific feedback on how to stage each room. 

Eliminating shared rides between agents and buyers

In order to maintain social distancing during showings, our buyer clients are now traveling separately from their agent as they drive from one property to the next.  

Eliminating the traditional open house

For the time being we have also eliminated the traditional open house. In it's place we're planning to rely more heavily on virtual solutions, including video tours, Matterport tours, Zillow 3D tours, and virtual opens.  

Conducting buyer showings with video walk-throughs

Our agents are previewing properties for our clients and providing video walk-throughs, so our clients can learn more about each property without having to set foot in the house. 

Requiring a mortgage pre-approval or proof of funds prior to a private showing

Some of our selling clients are now asking for documentation in order to ensure all showings are with serious buyers who can demonstrate they are qualified to buy right now. This eliminates unnecessary showings to less serious buyers who aren't yet prepared to buy. 

Eliminating double-booked and overlapping showings

Previously, we had encouraged allowing more than one party to view a property at the same time. During this time of social distancing, we now recommend allowing just one. 

Moving all marketing materials to a digital format

Instead of displaying hard-copy marketing materials at their property, some sellers are opting to have all of their marketing materials produced in a digital format only. For example, our team is creating feature sheets, floor plans and neighborhood guides in a PDF format. Then we're sharing the digital materials with each buyer and buyer agent prior to their showing. 

Instituting hygiene measures at showings

These measures include:

  • Asking all visitors to remove their shoes at the door.
  • Asking all visitors to disinfect their hands as they enter a home. Sellers are making hand sanitizer available at the front door and soap and disposable towels in the bathrooms.
  • Asking buyers and buyer agents to wear gloves at showings. 
  • Asking buyers and buyer agents not to touch surfaces at showings. Sellers are turning on all of the lights prior to showings and buyer agents are being asked not to turn off the lights. Sellers are opening all doors in the home and opening cabinets and cabinet drawers so buyers and buyer agents do not need to touch them. 
  • Encouraging sellers to disinfect commonly touched surfaces, such as door knobs, faucet handles, and counter tops. 

How title companies are changing the closing process

Title companies are also adjusting the closing process in order to protect the health of staff, customers, and the general public. In his recent blog post, Peter Zarov from Homestead Title shared a few of the measures his company is adopting. These practices include:

  • Most Homestead Title staff are now working from home. 
  • They are now asking all lenders and real estate agents not to attend closings. Only buyers, sellers and other necessary signors will be allowed in the closing room. However, lenders and agents can participate remotely and be available to assist by phone. Real estate professionals are urged not to attend closings and will be asked to wait in the outside waiting room if they choose to attend. 
  • They are also asking buyers and sellers to sign their paperwork at different times. 
  • If any buyer or seller is sick or has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, they are working with that person to arrange for an alternative and safe signing. 
  • Homestead Title is also adopting a digital signing (e-signature) process so parties to the transaction can complete their closing from the comfort of home. For more information, check out this article from the Homestead Title Blog. 
  • Another option Homestead Title is considering is a "drive-up closing". We'll share more info on this as soon as we have it. 

Staying in touch

We know this is a time of uncertainty and stress for many people, and that you may have questions about the market or how to buy or sell during this time of societal change. Please feel free to call us with your questions and concerns. We are here to help you work through them, and we'll give you all of the time you need to discuss your individual situation. 

This article is published courtesy of:
Dan Miller, REALTOR
Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred
610 Junction Road #205, Madison, WI, 53717

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