Even in the best of times, buying and selling a home can be a daunting process. For most it’s the largest investment you’ll ever make, and it will eventually become a large part of your net worth. You want to make sure you pick the right property at the right price. Now that the coronavirus has folks all across the country staying in to lower their risk of infection, even those who were already in the market to buy and sell are weary. Here’s what you need to know about the real estate market in these uncertain times.
- You need to find the right real estate agent. Like most industries, real estate has just gone through a major overhaul almost overnight. Agents now need to more tech-savvy than ever, and their brokerage needs to provide the tools to enable them to do their job in a drastically different market than we had just a few short months ago. From Zoom meetings and FaceTime tours as the home buying and selling process begins, to the ability to complete the paperwork remotely, it’s essential your real estate agent is able to navigate the entire process within the new norms. You may or may not be all that concerned about COVID-19, but there are a lot of parties involved in any real estate transaction who may be, including the buyer or seller on the other side.
- Photography is now more important than ever. A decade ago there was a renaissance where a professional real estate photographer could set any home apart from the competition. Since then the market recovered and many real estate companies, and agents, went back to their old ways, because they didn’t have to pay for those services to be competitive any more. Now the photos are again an essential selling tool, they are the buyer’s first impression of a property, and for sellers a better first impression translates into more interest and eventually more purchase offers to choose from.
- Virtual Home Tours are now a must. In-person showings and open houses aren’t what they used to be. At least for the time being. Both buyers and sellers are currently erring on the side of caution, navigating much of the process with as little exposure as possible. While the showing was previously the second step of the process, now virtual tours and video tours are the first thing buyers look too after viewing the basic listing information. This allows them to see the property more completely, and get a feel for the space and layout so they can picture how their life might be in the home before setting up in-person showings on their top picks.
- Closing in our market must still be in front of a notary. Some things haven’t changed, so in order to stay safe you may want your closing to be conducted through a company that has taken safety precautions to make the closing process safer for all parties. Belinda Butler, of Premier Land Title & Escrow says, “We were quick to implement mandatory latex gloves, sanitizers, disinfecting between closings, limiting attendees to signors, and a glass divider at the closing table in order to provide the safest closing experience.”
- Our local market hasn’t suffered as much as you think. We took an initial hit when everything came to a halt with the Governor and Mayors’ initial Safer-At-Home orders, but our local market is rebounding quickly. Pending contracts for the month of April are trending just 18% lower than last year, which was a record April for Rutherford County. The first week of the shutdown in our market was down over 30% so the rebound is happening quickly.Looking at the 7-Day Average compared to last year we can see the market is fast approaching a return to normalcy, at least in contracts written. That is not to say the market isn’t different. There are less real estate agents producing, many have thrown in the towel altogether, and those that are still top producers are going about it very different than in the past.