Real Estate During Safer-at-Home: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know
Updated: May 28
While Colorado real estate paused in April, the start to the metro area's buying and selling season wasn't as bad as many in the industry initially feared. In fact, real estate activity is now active, picking up quickly, and seems to be playing catch-up. The weekly average for home showings is now approaching 2019 levels. Pent up buyer and seller demand is expected to keep our local selling season strong, lasting late into fall.
Brokers and industry partners have had time to build a framework in which buyers and sellers cooperate and transactions successfully make it to the closing table. Lenders and title companies have created "contact-less" procedures with customers getting services they need as safely as possible. Other than some minor scheduling and processing delays, for the most part real estate is running smoothly and normally, under a very new normal. Whether you are a buyer or seller, expect to see a few major changes in how real estate operates this summer:
Most home shopping is done virtually. Traditional Open Houses have been tabled for the foreseeable future. Overlapping appointments are not allowed.
To protect customers, documentation is shared electronically without paper. Don't expect to grab property flyers out of yard boxes, at least for a while.
All parties are asked to provide disclosures regarding their health status before giving or granting access to a property.
On site, social distancing is required with masks and gloves worn at all times, and groups are limited by size and to essential persons only.
Respecting the shortage of PPE available in the state, those who need to enter a property are asked to come prepared. This usually means bringing their own masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
You can read all of Colorado's current Safer-at-Home Guidance for Real Estate on the state's Covid-19 Portal. Thinking about buying or selling this year? Hear a few tips and ideas to make your journey as smooth, safe, and rewarding as possible.
INFORMATION AND TIPS FOR SELLERS
Great news! Virtual solutions like 3D tours and video walk-throughs are working and being well-accepted by serious buyers. The services are now in extremely high demand. Let your broker know your target date for showings as early as possible so your services can be scheduled in time for your preferred listing date.
While professional photography has always been critical to any listing's success, it's more important than ever today. Buyers are doing most of their shopping on-line before requesting a showing and can no longer "kick tires" at open houses. Get your home in its best shape before your photo shoot. Paint, clean windows, stage showcase areas like the kitchen and master bath, and get your yard looking beautiful. (Need a game plan to tackle the job? SchwingState has you covered!)
If you decide to allow in-person showings it's a good idea to arrange to be away if you can, after it has been thoroughly cleaned and prepared for public visitors of course. Turn on all lights, open doors and cabinets, and pull back window-treatments to minimize the number of surfaces visitors need to touch while they are inside.
If you are not comfortable allowing in-person showings, work with your agent to provide video tours and virtual showings instead. With the right media, some buyers are willing to write an offer to buy without ever entering the home!
Once under contract, expect that an inspector will need to enter your home to complete a report for the buyer. Most inspections take between two and four hours. In many cases, lenders can do appraisals using on-line information and drive-bys of the property without requiring an appraiser to enter your home.
INFORMATION AND TIPS FOR BUYERS
While it is always the first smart step in the home buying process, under Safer-at-Home many Sellers will not approve an in-person showing without submitting a letter of pre-approval or proof of funds in advance. Without an approval in hand, it is likely your home search will have to stay on-line with virtual tours only.
Extremely Important — If you have a mortgage now and are thinking of purchasing in the next six to twelve months, do not forbear a mortgage payment only because you have the option to do so. Lenders will treat the skipped payment as a missed mortgage payment, and you will be ineligible for obtaining a new home loan for up to six months.
While showings are allowed in most places under Safer-at-Home, they are reserved for serious, prepared buyers who are likely to write an offer. It is expected that people scheduling appointments have carefully and thoroughly researched the home, including all photos / tours before requesting a showing. If, after careful research, the home is a fit and you are interested in doing an in-person showing, limit it to persons who will sign the contract.
Overlapping appointments and Open Houses are not allowed. That means fewer buyers are able to tour a property of interest over the weekend. Communicate with your Broker as early as possible to secure your private showing before all appointments book up and the home goes under contract to someone else.
Here are 7 more tips from SchwingState's Buyers Guide to Landing Your Home During Safer-at-Home Restrictions:
Bonus Tip #8! If you decide to make an offer and want the home deep-cleaned prior to possession, make sure to include your requirements in any Contract-to-Buy that your broker drafts on your behalf.
FINAL THOUGHTS & PREDICTIONS
Some buyers are thinking about “waiting out the market” in hopes of finding a bargain. I believe those who do are likely to pay higher prices and face significantly higher interest rates later, making a home less affordable than it is today. I base this prediction on the following reasons:
Home values are steady and prices are expected to rise in 2021 due to long-standing, nationwide shortages.
New construction is being hit hardest under Covid-19. Developers are holding back on projects that would have finally eased housing supply in many areas. Delayed construction will intensify pre-existing inventory shortages.
Real estate is all about supply and demand. Demand isn't expected to decrease. Supply will continue to be low, especially in lower price ranges.
While unemployment claims are at an all-time high, there is 78% employment coupled with all-time low interest rates for qualified buyers.
It is safe to assume that unprecedented stimulus spending will cause inflation which will in turn cause interest rates to rise, perhaps sharply. One of the best hedges against inflation is a solid asset with a fixed, low interest rate and an affordable monthly payment.
In the metro area, buyers looking for a bargain are more likely to find them in luxury markets and in homes above $1M. Expect multiple bids on affordably priced homes and prepare to face strong competition on homes priced below $500K.
In any price range, I suggest keeping a Buyer's Diary to help keep track and make sense of all your options. I also recommend planning ahead, being patient, and working with a dedicated and responsive professional to find and land the home that is right for you.
We are facing unprecedented and challenging economic times but the housing market is poised to help our economy recover, not drag it down. As a full-time real estate professional, I am here to help people move forward. Be in touch if I can help you or someone you know.
Michelle Schwinghammer is a REALTOR®, Certified Negotiation Expert® and Pricing Strategy Advisor® who helps people move forward in Colorado.
I HELP PEOPLE MOVE FORWARD.
Schwingstate, LLC, 30480 Stagecoach Blvd, Evergreen, CO 80439
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