Buying a house in the pandemic
Pretty much every aspect of our lives has changed through this pandemic, not that you need me to tell you that! In addition to grocery shopping and clothes shopping, home shopping has also changed.
Before the pandemic, the internet was already playing a much bigger role in home buying than it ever had before. Most people were spending time looking at houses online long before even being pre-approved for a mortgage and connecting with a realtor. Now it has become even more prevalent.
During lockdowns and restrictions Realtors are considered an essential service, as people need a roof over their heads. (See: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Despite being essential, a large portion of our services have moved to online; as much as possible. Initial client visits are done via video chat, if possible. It is so much easier to get a feel and have a good understanding of what people want when you can have a face-to-face conversation. Otherwise, a phone call will do. A lot of mortgage brokers I have spoke with have moved all of their work online now too.
Showings and listing previews can be done in person with the completion of Covid-19 symptom/exposure questionnaires and disclaimers. We also have Covid-19 protocols to be followed. The number of people allowed to view a property has been restricted to two adults in addition to the realtor and we are rarely allowed to bring children on the viewings. It is a strange time for families to buy a home. There have been many situations where the kids do not get a chance to view the home until have it has been bought. In some cases, they do not even see the house until closing!
To limit the number of showings and help additional family members view the home, we prioritize good, professional photos as always. We have also added in virtual tours as another option. Many listings now have this feature. It allows you to virtually walk through the house prior to viewing it in person. You can navigate through the house on your phone/computer to get a 360-degree view of the home’s interior. With the option for virtual viewings people can get a better perception of the house, which will help them decide if they are interested enough for an in person viewing of the house. It helps limit exposure as well by reducing the showings to only those who are seriously interested.
Prior to Covid showings could overlap, so there was more flexibility and opportunity to view a house. Now, showings are usually limited to a shorter length of time and none overlap. The bonus of this is the extra private showing, but depending on the demand of a particular house, it can be hard to book a showing in a time slot you want.
And I cannot forget the e-signatures! We have been using this method of signing for quite a few years now. The documents are sent to your password protected email for click-through signing. Due to the pandemic, we have completed eliminated in-person signing in our business. The online option really helps with ease of signing but also the amount of exposure to everyone involved.
With all the Covid restrictions and changes we are still doing our best to take great care of our clients. We want the experience to be as stress free as possible, even during a global pandemic. We are here for you!