Six weeks ago, life and the modes of human interaction took a massive turn in direction no one was prepared for or could have imagined. Not only has COVID-19 completely changed how people interact with each other for the short term, but also will have a lasting impact and quite possibly irreversible change in society’s approach to physical interactions. As an example, I personally am a believer that handshakes have become a thing of the past, and for all the “huggers” out there—well, it may be time to find a new way to express affection.
The new health and human interaction guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not only changed our social interactions, but also the health and safety precautions in nearly every industry.
What do these changes look like in real estate? Are people looking at homes? Doing home inspections—and what about appraisers?
As I've discussed in previous columns, the real estate industry as a whole has done a fantastic job of turning on a dime to embrace this new way of doing business, keep business going and support their clients' health and safety. As a result, many agents are now doing virtual tours, video tours and virtual open houses.
Are showings slowing down a bit? Yes, they are in general.
Some sellers are choosing to withdraw their homes from the market until we've flattened the curve and more is known about the virus. Others have opted to stay on the market and require that all showings take maximum precautions with masks, sanitizer, gloves and booties. So much varies depending on the client and the broker’s levels of comfort with interaction. Most of my colleagues have prepared a showing kit: wipes, booties, hand sanitizer, gloves and instructions for how to enter and view a home safely.
Home inspections are going about as normal, although, as with real estate property showings, several inspectors have shared with me that they too have seen a significant slow in the last six weeks. The inspectors that I have spoken with are taking extra precautions with gloves, masks, booties and asking that people maintain the 6-foot distance rule while performing the inspection.
In terms of appraisals, some lenders are not requiring interior inspections for the appraisal. Rather, they are performing only exterior inspections of the property to limit any close contact with others. The Veterans Administration is one not allowing appraisers to enter residences for appraisals.
Contrary to the State of Washington, Oregon has allowed for real estate activity to continue during the stay-at-home order, so long as social distancing can be maintained. The most important thing to remember is to be respectful of each person’s level of comfort and interaction during these interesting and evolving times. This is for both the real estate professional as well as the buyer and seller.
Take the extra care to show kindness and respect for those opening their homes for showings, as well as those who are coming to a property as a potential buyer. Buying and selling a home is a stressful process and this new world we are living in just made it a little bit more stressful. So let’s all work together to help ease concern, show kindness and regard others wishes and safety concerns.