Q: I was preparing to put my house on the market and downsize when the coronavirus pandemic hit and put those plans on hold for safety reasons. Is this a bad time to sell my home, and is the buying/selling process safe with COVID-19?
A: Believe it or not, the real estate market for single-family homes is hot right now. Buyers are screening properties online, looking at fewer properties and making offers faster.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service reports that median sales prices for single-family homes are comparable to last year. Pending sales in June were up 13% from last year, yet inventory was down 45%.
Now more than ever, buyers are finding and viewing homes virtually, then basing decisions on whether to visit a home based on the digital listing. They’re also gravitating toward those that are move-in ready.
If you’re selling your home, your listing agent will need to maximize the value of your property by presenting a complete digital package. First impressions are everything. This means that the photography needs to be spot-on.
Social media, videos, virtual walkthroughs, virtual open houses and renderings are all tools used by brokers to showcase your property and its potential. Additionally, many sellers are choosing to do pre-inspections, which can provide more upfront information to buyers and limit multiple inspectors in your home.
When it comes to showings, protocols are being revised as counties enter different reopening phases. King, Snohomish and Pierce counties are currently operating under the following Phase 2 guidelines:
- In-person real estate activities, including open houses and property viewings, must be by appointment only.
- Real estate brokers and industry partners (appraisers, inspectors, photographers, stagers, etc.) must wear cloth face coverings and should encourage clients to do the same.
- No more than three people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time. Those three persons must strictly follow social distancing, remaining at least 6 feet apart at all times.
- A broker may not leave a third party unattended in a property.
- Brokers must wipe down with disinfectant any surfaces touched by buyers.
For the latest look at the requirements, visit warealtor.org/covid-19/covid-19-faqs-for-real-estate-activities.
For buyers, the best thing you can do is be prepared to move at a moment’s notice. That means:
- Make sure you know what you qualify for and have a lender on hand who can verify your finances in a multiple-offer situation.
- Be ready to write an offer the day you look at a property. The good ones may not last.
- Make sure you are working with a broker who is responsive and can provide you with background information on the property.
- Have inspectors lined up who will be able to support a quick-turnaround inspection if a pre-inspection is not done by the seller.
Understand that there are strategies buyers can take to win in multiple offers, but many of them come with some level of risk. Be sure to have your broker explain the risk.
Brenda Nunes is the managing broker for Nunes Group Real Estate at Keller Williams Eastside, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 2,700 members, write to email@example.com.