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Understanding New Real Estate Rules Under Social Distancing

Buying or selling a home can be stressful even under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, the current state of the world is far from ordinary. The housing market is feeling the crunch, as fewer buyers want to get out and shop for a home, and fewer sellers want to take a risk with selling. This isn’t to say that nobody is buying and selling, of course; the market is just going through some changes.

One of the largest changes revolves around how buyers and sellers are handling social isolation and social distancing. If you are thinking of selling, or are in the market to buy, here are a few new”rules” to bear in mind when entering the real estate fray in the era of self-isolation.

Increasing Online Presence

One of the drastic changes to the real estate process is an increased dependence on resources instead of in-person shopping. This includes plenty of images and videos of properties being posted online, but many sellers are taking things much further than this.

Recorded virtual tours, online conferences to allow buyers to ask questions about the property, and even livestream walkthroughs with a seller or agent showing the property are all increasingly popular options to supplement or even replace in-person showings and conferences.

Fewer Open Houses

Open houses are a popular way to display a property to many potential buyers, but at the current crisis these events are a large no-no. In many locales, open houses aren’t even allowed under state and federal guidance. In states where they haven’t been specifically banned, many sellers are still hesitant to hold an event that would bring people into contact with each other.

Online”virtual open house” conferences are popping up as a single option to adapt to this, allowing multiple potential buyers come together on Zoom or a similar video conference service at the same time to get a better feel for the property that’s being sold.

More One-on-One Time

As convenient as online access and virtual tours are throughout the current isolation period, few if any buyers would sign on the dotted line without getting a chance to find a property in person. To accommodate this, many sellers and agents are meeting with potential buyers by appointment only.

This allows a potential buyer get a good look at the property in question while also limiting the size of the meeting as far as possible. Many of these appointments are made with the understanding that if any participant feels the least bit under the weather on the day of the meet-up, then it will need to be rescheduled for another time.

Respecting Social Distancing

Even if buyers and sellers do meet up, the practice is usually a bit different than it used to be. Social distancing principles are usually respected, meaning that everyone involved must stay at least six feet apart at all times to prevent potential infection. Discussions about the property and general Q&As are more likely to occur outdoors in the open air, and any greetings or introductions skip out on traditional handshakes.

Masks, gloves, shoe covers and hand sanitizer are commonly available on site, and many sellers go through and open all of the doors and windows to both maximize airflow and to allow interested buyers access to the whole house without having to touch doorknobs or other surfaces in order to see inside.

Closing Remotely

Remote closing negotiations are getting to be much more prevalent, taking advantage of video conferencing to bring everyone together without actually having to be in the same room. There may be some instances where people have to meet up to actually sign paperwork, but digital signing is more common because it eliminates that point of contact.

When people do come together for closing and signing, it’s far more probable that everyone will utilize social distancing and that both parties will use their pencils instead of sharing.

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