If there’s one thing we’ve all learned lately, it’s that safeguarding our health requires rethinking how we perform even the simplest tasks.
Transactions in the world of real estate are no exception. It takes planning and creativity to keep both buyers and sellers safe when they interact.
We’ve put together a list of innovative strategies we use to keep clients and staff healthy as they navigate a property purchase or sale in the world of COVID-19.
Real estate sales have recently been declared an essential service in Texas. So the most problematic issue when buying or selling a property right now is how to handle home tours. How can you protect yourself and others?
Take a Walk
Virtual home tours were already a popular tool that sellers use to market a property. But, these days, they make even more sense in order to avoid exposing your (hopefully COVID-free) space.
Companies like Sold in a Snap offer lots of photography and video options for sellers to market a home online. Check out their Matterport tour, which allows a viewer to move virtually through a house with 360-degree views in 3D. You can zoom in on features like a stovetop or light fixture (and it even has a tool to measure things like doorways, walls or closets).
Wes Albanese, with Studio on the Avenue in Temple, offers aerial photos of a property for as little as $150—the studio also offers Matterport services or short video tours of your home accompanied by music.
If your home sits on a large parcel of land, consider hiring a photographer to create an aerial tour of your property using a drone. Studio on the Avenue also specializes in drone video tours of properties in Central Texas.
Once a photographer films the video (contact-free), your realtor can post the tour, photos and floor plan online with services like ShowingTime.com.
Sometimes there’s no substitute for actually stepping foot in a house you think you want to buy—or welcoming strangers into a house you want to sell.
If you must tour a home in person, or potential buyers insist on stopping by, there are steps a realtor can take to protect everybody from health risks. First on the list—this isn’t the time to ride-share—everyone should arrive in their own car.
Realtors can show the home to one person in your family at a time, ensuring that no one touches doorknobs, light switches or other home features. Sojourn Real Estate realtors follow all CDC guidelines during any interactions with the public, including offering clients gloves before they even reach the front door for a home tour.
Some sellers ask that visitors wear paper “booties” and masks—and when you leave, use wipes to sanitize anything you absolutely had to touch.
A realtor also can lead clients on virtual video-chat tours, where the realtor does the walk-through and the buyer watches online and asks questions as they go.
Your realtor can require anyone touring a property to legally certify that they are healthy and are without a fever or other symptoms of illness. Check out a Certification for Property Access Form here. Realtors who show clients your home can leave these certifications behind so you can see who’s been in the house and how to reach them if you need to.
Virtual John Hancock
If you’ve ever bought or sold a property, you know that heavy stacks of paper, chock-full of signature blanks, are usually involved. But what if you’re uncomfortable traveling to an escrow office?
Maintaining a social distance of six feet during escrow is simple—many realtors, escrow officers and lenders offer e-signing services, like DocuSign, so you can safely “sign” papers on your tablet or laptop, right from your living room sofa.
Also, some lenders and title companies have partnered with mobile notaries so that they come to you with all the paperwork to be signed and notarized (touch-free, of course), then ferry it back to the lender, all at no extra cost.
We’re all learning new ways to interact safely. If you want real-time information related to COVID-19 or the real estate market in general, visit these online resources: