Extra Safety Measures During COVID-19: Q&A with Prime Properties’ Co-Owner/Broker Stephanie Nelson
The COVID-19 virus has changed how we socialize, grocery shop, almost everything…including conducting business. Protecting the health of our buyers, sellers and agents is our top priority at Prime Properties, so we’ve made some significant changes to ensure that home buying and selling continues to be a safe process for all parties involved. Check out this Q&A with Prime Properties’ Broker, Stephanie Nelson to learn what important measures we’re taking.
Q: How are residential real estate showings being conducted during the global Covid-19 pandemic?
Prime Properties agents are offering virtual showings. In a virtual showing, the buyer’s agent goes to the house alone and Facetimes or Skypes the buyer for a personal tour of the home. They describe the features of the house and its condition, answering questions along the way. After the showing, they can even provide the video record of the call. If the buyer likes the video virtual tour, the agent will schedule an in-person tour of the home. Prime Properties agents are also getting professional videos made of their listings to include on the MLS so buyers can do a walk-through tour online before they have their agent do a Facetime or Skype video. We are including more photos with our listings as well.
Q: What changes have occurred to in-person buyer showings since COVID-19?
The first thing we do before we meet with anyone face to face is to do a brief interview to ensure that they are not experiencing symptoms, haven’t been exposed to people that are, and haven’t recently traveled outside the US. We don’t want to risk exposing our buyers, sellers or agents.
We are asking buyers to not bring children inside the house. We ask they stay in the car and have one parent at a time tour the home while the other parent waits with the kids. This is an effort to control the number of people inside a home. We need to take extra precautions with occupied homes and want to protect both buyers’ children and sellers’ children by making sure nothing inside the home is touched. Sometimes children just can’t help themselves! So, to be careful, it’s best not to bring the kids, if possible. We are asking sellers to turn on all the lights inside the home and make sure blinds are open as well as closet doors. That way buyers or agents don’t have to touch anything while they are inside the home. We are also asking sellers to provide gloves to the buyers if possible. Masks, gloves and shoe covers will all help with the spread of bacteria. Sellers or agents can also use Clorox wipes to wipe down the front door handle, stair railings and counters after a showing.
Q: How has the lending process been affected?
Appraisals are taking longer. I’ve seen it take over four weeks in some cases. That, in turn, pushes back closing times back. Everyone needs to be more flexible and understand that everyone is doing the best they can during these times. Lenders are verifying employment right before closing. With so many losing their jobs because of the Corona virus, job security is an issue right now with mortgage lending. Mortgage interest rates are low right now, but I’m hearing some lenders aren’t locking in rates until the file is ready for underwriting. Rates are fluctuating a lot right now.
Q: How are the title companies handling closings?
If a buyer is able to pay with cash, some title companies are doing closings virtually, using DocuSign. This cuts down on the need for in-person closings. However, the lender requires “wet” signatures on some of the paperwork, so in some cases, buyers and sellers do need to sign in person. I saw on the news, one title company is conducting closings through a drive through bank window, so the escrow officer and buyer have glass between them. Other title companies are still closing in their offices, but only the escrow officer and buyer/seller are allowed in the closing. They are asking Realtors not to attend, so fewer people are in close contact.
Q: Is a now a good time to list my house for sale?
The good news is that there are fewer properties on the market, so you won’t have as much competition. But the number of buyers is also lower. If you list now, you’ll have less competition because some sellers are putting off listing their home if they don’t really have to move. My recommendation is to list sooner rather than later, so when buyers are ready, so are you. Your home will be available and already on the market. HAR.com has put a notice on their web page that suggests that days on the market could be longer than normal and should not reflect negatively on a listing. All listings are in the same boat; people still have to move. Sometimes it’s for a job. Sometimes it’s for a marital change. There’s always a need for housing, which is why federal and state governments deemed Realtors essential during this time.
Q: Is now a good time to buy?
If you have job stability, it’s a great time to buy! Rates are low. You should talk to your lender, but it may be smarter to put less money down right now, so you don’t take a hit by taking your money out of the stock market for your down payment. With the market down, this may be an issue for you. Weigh the costs with your lender. There are fewer buyers in the market right now, so less competition. Buy now while there are fewer buyers looking. Real estate pricing is based on supply and demand.
Rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to protect you. It’s not business as usual, but we are still buying and selling homes every day in a new and safer way. We’re here to serve you when you are ready! If it’s time to buy or sell your home, reach out to us at 832.752.3509.