It Ain’t Easy Being Green
We’ve been waiting for what seems like years (but has only been months) for our state to enter into the “green” phase. By now, pretty much everyone knows what that means as the color coded systems used to help states re-open effectively has become part of our collective knowledge.
This color system, which identifies Covid-19 risk levels in counties around Pennsylvania, has held us for some time at red and yellow levels, effectively sequestering us in our homes and stalling the real estate industry.
Many buyers and sellers waited with baited breath for this moment, poised on the verge of listing or buying a home. Now that we’re green, it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy from here on out. Right?
I wish it were so, but I’m afraid the real estate industry is not exempt from the new norms we’re living with – stores are open, but we need to wear masks, we can go to restaurants, but we need to social distance.
For real estate, the new norm means that while we are no longer strictly limited in what we can and cannot do, but things are certainly going to look different for some time to come.
What things will be changing and which will be staying the same?
We still need to wear masks at all times during showings, just like we do at the grocery store. (Please don’t squeeze the produce when you preview a house!)
Three people is no longer the maximum number allowed in a property at one time, however, we still need to follow proper social distancing rules, so what that means is that in some tiny properties, three people may be too many and in others, we may be able to take larger groups through all at once.
How about those COVID-19 forms we’re having to fill out? Are these things going away any time soon?
Well, that depends on a few things.
It’s still good practice to fill these out just in case – some of the forms are used mainly for contact tracing and since the disease is far from eradicated, it’s not a bad idea to be on a list of people who will be notified in the case that you might have come in contact with the virus.
Others are an addendum to the agreement of sale which allows for an extension of the contingency dates in the event that COVID might prevent some portion of the agreement from being completed.
Some areas of the world went green and the virus chased them right back into yellow or red, so again, it’s best practice to fill out this quick little addendum – better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to a purchase or sale this large.
How about open houses?
If you are a seller, you might be wondering whether your agent can hold an open house or not. In a seller’s market such as this, many agents will try to maximize exposure immediately by holding an open house and gathering multiple offers on a property the first weekend it is available. While that is a sound plan in theory, Corona had other plans for our Spring listings and Summer sales.
An open house is basically a large gathering of strangers arriving at random times and it’s a potential social distancing disaster. Like so many other things, real estate agents are going to have to rethink their strategy for holding an open house if that is still the route they choose to go.
One way to mitigate all of the potential problems is to enlist the help of a second agent to man the door and allow potential buyers into the home in small groups. That “door” person can make sure every potential buyer who enters has signed in (for contact tracing), that they are each wearing a mask and that they understand the new rules of open houses.
It’s always best practice not to leave buyers alone during an open house, but now it has become even more important. Buyers should allow the agent to open and close doors and cabinets so that they touch as little as possible.
An open house can still be an effective way to get the maximum number of “eyes” on a property right up front, but agents should consider alternatives, such as limiting showings to a specific day each week (to reduce the amount of sanitization the seller must do) or accepting all offers by a certain date.
While some may find that seems presumptive, in this market any desirable property, priced right, is likely going to have multiple offers in the first few days.
How is the market being affected by COVID and will this EVER end?
What makes this market great for sellers, makes it a tough one in which to buy a home. Most people are going to fall on both sides of the deal assuming they aren’t moving out of state or joining the Peace Corps.
Once you sell your house with no contingencies at a price higher than asking, don’t jump for joy yet. That extra cash will likely be necessary to procure your next home as you enter into a market fraught with bidding wars and low inventory.
On the lending side of things, while interest rates remain at an all time low, lenders have increase the minimum required credit scores and have tightened up requirements for pre-approvals. Those who were approved mere months ago – even those who have remained employed, may not qualify for a mortgage now.
What does it all mean and what should I do? Is it time to run screaming and naked through the streets? Wait, what? Pretend you didn’t hear that (and definitely do NOT take your clothes off).
The best thing you can possibly do during such uncertain times is to find yourself a knowledgeable realtor who can look at your unique circumstances and offer you personalized advice tailored to meet your needs specifically. No two buyers and sellers are alike and the same advice will never apply word for word to everyone.
If you aren’t already working with a realtor or you’re not too happy with the one you have, remember, you are the customer. Choosing a real estate agent is a little bit like buying a car – you get to pick.
Often buyers or sellers will feel stuck with someone who doesn’t return their calls or who gives them obviously poor advice. Don’t leave such an important and monumental transaction in the hands of someone you don’t trust simply because they are the first person you spoke to. You owe it to yourself to get the best representation you can.
I happen to know someone who can help. Simply click below to contact me and I’d be happy to talk with you and answer any questions you might have.
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