Timing is everything, especially when it comes to selling your house. Historically, the milder weather and longer days of spring signal the start of the peak selling season. However, the 2020 selling season brings more than open houses and eager buyers with it – it also brings the threat and uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This health concern has sellers and REALTORS® rethinking traditional marketing techniques and looking for responsible ways to sell during the coronavirus pandemic.
Delaying your home sale is not necessary or required because there are work-arounds that will keep your family safe during the process. REALTORS® are taking the safety of their clients very seriously during the pandemic. Crain’s Chicago Business talked with local REALTORS® that were quick to take action after Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued stay-at-home orders March 20.
In the article, Josh Lipton, an agent with Compass, discussed how their company handled two open houses that were already scheduled before the order was issued. Lipton said that Compass placed “hand sanitizer, gloves and masks outside the property, kept the door locked and asked anyone who wanted entry to first call and answer the now-familiar coronavirus screening questions about symptoms, temperature and recent contact with anyone showing signs of infection.”
Lissa Weinstein, a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago agent, was quick to adopt a digital approach after hearing about the state’s new restrictions. “For two units she represents in a rehabbed Gold Coast building, Weinstein hosted what she called ‘a closed open house,’ a Facebook Live stream where she walked through the property talking about the finishes and the neighborhood.”
There will certainly be active buyers looking to lock into the current low-interest rates, but not as many as you would typically see during the spring selling season. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) conducted a quick “flash study” on April 5-6 to ask a random sampling of 92,630 REALTORS® what their clients were doing. They found that 59% of REALTORS® reported that their buyers were waiting a couple of months before purchasing a home.
If you do decide to move forward with listing your house now, be assured that there are still ways to safely promote your property and let potential buyers experience your home without a traditional open house. Your REALTOR® can let you know which option, or options, are right for your market.
- Offer Private Showings: Private showings are a great way for interested buyers to get a feel for your home. Ask your REALTOR® what COVID-19 safety precautions they are taking during home showings and where you and your family should be during them, since typically homeowners would not be home.
- Host a Virtual Open House: Using FaceTime, Facebook Live or similar platforms, your REALTOR® can host a virtual open house at a predetermined time highlighting all of your home’s best features while leaving it germ-free.
Kelly Boenzi, REALTOR® with Zimmerman Group with Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park, says “Virtual tours via Facebook or FaceTime are an excellent idea. It allows us to walk buyers through a home and be there live to answer questions.”
- Offer Showings on Demand: An off-shoot of the virtual open house, a showing on-demand, would allow your REALTOR® to accept requests for private virtual showings by potential buyers.
These alternatives to traditional open houses let buyers see inside your home while keeping their distance, which is what makes them great ideas for selling to out of state buyers even when social distancing protocols aren’t in effect.
With the uncertainty of what lies ahead for our communities, it may be tempting to put a halt on your home sale. But, low mortgage rates, and pending sales numbers in some areas, indicate that buyers are still buying. So, work with your REALTOR® to develop a responsible plan that’s works for you and respects the safety of everyone involved.