Eight Tips for Navigating the New Normal
by Deborah Rutter
It’s likely that the coronavirus, in some form or fashion, will be with us for quite some time. But real estate sales march on! How do you keep your family safe when transmission is highly contagious, and different states have differing rules about what is and isn’t acceptable?
Here are a eight tips to help minimize risks:
1. Pictures have always mattered
Great pictures can help eliminate the lookers and tire-kickers. That has always been true. Any agent knows the value of pictures and professional pictures should be a no-brainer…no poorly lit, messy pics taken in a hurry with a cell phone. These pictures can also help savvy buyers decide if it’s really worth it to come and take a look in person. But the pictures need to be accurate! Wide-angle lenses making tiny rooms look huge defeat the purpose. Accuracy should be the name of the game.
2. Video matters even more
There are lots of kinds of video out there (check out this link for an overview), and all of them can help potential buyers really take note of your home. Video options are not expensive, don’t take that long to shoot in a well-prepped home, and can add a level of dimension that can help buyers decide if they should move on to something else, or take the next step and set up a time for an in-person look.
3. Floor plans
Pictures, even the best and most expensive ones, can’t show flow, juxtaposition, and relationships of rooms. Having an accurate floor plan can really help buyers put context to pictures. Better yet, have your home shot with a tool like Matterport that combines a version of video, pics, a 3-D effect, and the ability to navigate between rooms and floors.
4. ACCURATE descriptions, warts and all
Yes, you want to sell—but deception or omission will leave a bad taste behind. I have shown thousands and thousands of properties; most look better in pictures, and anyone who has done a lot of home-searching in person would likely agree. What if your home has glaring issues that aren’t readily apparent in pictures? If you don’t note them, you may get more lookers than truly interested parties. If your goal is to reduce the number of people breathing and touching things in your house, make sure buyers are getting what they can expect before they show up.
5. Require a written pre-qualification letter
Unless a buyer is paying cash, getting a pre-qualification letter is a no-brainer. Local lenders, who are on their game, can provide these in minutes upon request. Even if the lender doesn’t work evenings or weekends, which is when the majority of buyers are looking at property anyway, it’s worth factoring a letter into an offer in any case. Good lenders and good buyer agents will have these available as a standard. If a buyer is waiting to be pre-qualified until after they find something they like, they are likely less serious. Active, ready-to-buy buyers know what they can afford, have done the preliminary legwork up front, and are working with a buyer agent who understands the value of their own time as well.
6. Require masks
Some places require them, some don’t. Some agents and agencies require them, some don’t. You are well within your right to require anyone and everyone coming in to wear a mask. The science about reduced transmission with masks is in! Buyer agents should have these for their buyers, and listing agents sometimes also provide them at the door for folks who forget. Don’t worry about ruffling feathers. It’s your house, your health, and a reasonable request. There are other houses for people who refuse.
7. Reduce touch-points
If you are leaving the house for a showing, or for the day, turn on all the lights (yes, this increases your carbon footprint!) and open EVERY door, cabinet, and closet. All of them. This will help buyers and agents keep their hands to themselves.
8. Reduce the numbers in a buyer party
I have had as many as 12 people at a showing for ONE buyer party! It is reasonable to ask that party size be limited, especially on a first visit. Parents, grandparents, interested neighbors, friends, buddies, etc. have no place at a showing of an occupied home. If a home purchase includes multiple generations that might be living there, or parents buying for kids, etc., there are work-arounds: two or three at a time only; more folks in for a second look or at the inspection, etc. Be sure to let your listing agent know this up front so they can prepare other buyer agents and avoid having loads of people show up because they didn’t know in advance.
Strange times, indeed! But there are plenty of mitigation strategies for buyers and sellers who are finding themselves in need of moving regardless. Be up front about your expectations and requests and wash your hands!
Deborah Rutter is an Associate Broker at Nest Realty with a passion for teaching. She knows buyers and sellers make the smartest decisions for themselves when they are armed with data and insight. She has taught first-time homebuyer education classes, and is a featured contributor on our blog.