Across South Florida, we’re learning to cope with the reality of lockdowns, no school, and work-from-home directives.
That’s forced homeowners and real estate professionals to adapt to a new reality. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages around us, we all have clients, friends and neighbors selling homes, buying homes, and packing up homes to move elsewhere.
Just how are they managing?
Keeping In Touch Through Technology
Brian Hero, Senior Vice President and Broker with One Sotheby’s International Realty in Fort Lauderdale, says that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted real estate brokerages, which have had to adapt to new methods of communication, create contingency plans and institute new safety measures.
“Many brokerages in South Florida have closed their brick-and mortar locations temporarily and are encouraging agents to work from home,” notes Hero. “The use of technology allows agents and their clients to function in a virtual world.”
At the same time, “agents realize that buyers still want to physically visit a home before making a significant purchase,” adds Hero. “Sellers, especially if they are living in the home, are very concerned about having strangers coming into their homes and possibly spreading the virus.”
In many locations, like Fort Lauderdale, Florida, no in-person showings are permitted at this time per county-wide emergency orders.
Agents are using applications like FaceTime and Skype to communicate with clients, while video applications can provide virtual tours of properties.
Not Your Typical Spring Selling Season
Spring is typically considered the best time of year to buy or sell a home, say experts at Quicken Loans, but this year, real estate transactions are slowing as the typical in-person transactions have stopped or become more problematic.
“Appraisers and inspectors have struggled to gain access to homes, and government recording offices have closed their doors, making crucial aspects of the closing process challenging to complete,” says Quicken.
Options For Sellers and Buyers
If you’re selling your home, make sure to discuss your options with your agent. Postponing your sale until later in the year might be a possibility. You could also consider renting out your home instead of selling, if you don’t need the sales proceeds to facilitate an upcoming home purchase. And if you are selling, “it’s more important than ever to carefully consider realistic pricing” advises Hero.
Real estate experts advise that the situation could change rapidly once the pandemic abates and the stay-at-home order is lifted. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there was a severe shortage of housing for sale. That may foretell a strong demand for housing – and a robust real estate market – once things revert to normal.
In the meantime, expect a slower selling season as real estate buyers, sellers and agents replace what’s traditionally been a “high-touch” process with a new array of sophisticated “high-tech” tools.