Depending on which state you live in, open houses can either be essentials or non-essentials. In New York and California, for example, real estate brokers were not allowed to hold open houses and showings when the outbreak hit in March to June. Although restrictions have eased now, some real estate brokers still turn to the internet and technology to show homes to prospective buyers.
As a whole, the real estate industry is expected to reach new heights this year. Sales of new homes would have risen by 11%, signaling a new 13-year high for the industry, the National Association of Realtors said. However, when the pandemic happened, home sales in some markets dived by as much as 20%.
This makes it the best time for homebuyers to apply for home loans, look for a property, and make an offer. When banks are also encouraging borrowing money at reduced rates and better terms, homebuyers should take this as an opportunity to get their hands on their dream house. But of course, with the coronavirus still very much a threat, this poses a challenge.
Innovation, Resourcefulness, and Creativity
If you have ever attended an open house before, you know that it’s a fun way to shop for homes. You can tour the different parts of the home. You can see which rooms have the most light, as well as have an idea of how you can convert the attic into a loft. In your mind, you can already see how you will redesign the basement and the other rooms in the house. Even your kids will already have “dibs” on the bedrooms.
But these are not allowed under today’s circumstances. Real estate brokers should have been eligible for unemployment insurance, but the law says that if they can work remotely, they can’t apply for it. So, they became innovative, resourceful, and creative in selling homes. They had to because, unlike most employees, real estate brokers depend on sales and commissions.
Thankfully, technology is so advanced now that real estate agents can make 3D virtual tours of the properties they are selling. In a 360-degree virtual tour, the homebuyers can “walk” through the room to see its various features and amenities. The broker should make sure that the buyer can see every nook and cranny of the home.
A chat feature is also integrated into the virtual tour. This allows the agent to explain the amenities of the homes that might convince the buyers. Through the feature, the buyers can also pose questions and request to see parts of the house more closely.
Virtual tours and teleconferences are nothing new. Real estate brokers have been using them for the last five years. But during the first few weeks after the lockdown has been lifted in most states, requests for virtual tours in the industry surged more than 1500%.
In a teleconference, the brokers are present in the house. They can use their smartphones or other video cameras for touring the potential homebuyers in the house. They can answer questions while on cam. This is as close to face-to-face meetings as they can get.
When a broker closes a deal, any meeting with the buyer should have a six-feet distance between them. The most popular way right now to exchange documents is the drive-thru closings. What this means is the brokers will meet the homebuyers in the parking lots where they can hand them the papers through the car window. The buyers will sign the papers and hand them back to the broker.
Still, there’s nothing like in-person meetings to sell a home. Buyers can still see the home in person, though some real estate companies will require that only one buyer will enter the home with the agent. There should always be six feet of space between them. The buyers and brokers should also wear gloves, foot covers, and face masks. Some brokers said their face-to-face meetings looked like they will perform surgery instead of showing a house.
Property sellers are also required to put a sanitation area on the entrances of their homes. The area should have alcohol, foot covers, gloves, and masks. This measure ensures that everyone who will enter the house is safe and protected from possibly contracting the virus.
There is always a certain level of risk for sellers and buyers. This is why virtual tours and teleconferences are the most practical ways to show real estate property. Thanks to technology, buyers won’t miss anything on these virtual tours.