How Can I Sell My Home During a Pandemic? - Homestead Village

How Can I Sell My Home During a Pandemic?

living room with furniture

By Guest Blogger, Mike Julian, Real Estate Veteran.

I spent January, February and early March helping many folks who were at different stages of downsizing.  Some knew they had a home waiting for them in one of the Homestead Communities, while others were moving out of the area to be closer to grandchildren.  None of them expected a moratorium on real estate activities.

Those early days were filled with questions by my Sellers, leading me to research and uncover answers for what was essentially “new territory” in real estate…it was quite an adventure.  It has led to much evolution and change in the buying and selling of homes.  New technologies have emerged, new forms have been authored, new strategies have been adopted.  Proactive agents have adapted and helped their buyers and sellers to do the same.

So, where are we now?

To start, as of Wednesday May 20th, real estate has been deemed “essential” by the Governor.  This means that regardless of “Red, Yellow, or Green” designations, people across the State can buy and sell homes…with restrictions.  These restrictions focus on the human interaction portion of the buying/selling process, and most elements will make sense.  Let’s touch on the highlights.

The guidelines below apply to all business in the Red and Yellow phase that support real estate.  This means Realtors, appraisers, inspectors, notaries, title companies, etc…should operate by these standards.

  • Showings are allowed – no more than 3 people can be in attendance. Typically, this will be the realtor and 2 others.  Social distancing protocols must to be followed.
  • No Open Houses – showings shall be by appointment only as per above.
  • Visitors shall avoid touching surfaces, items in a home.
  • Seller should have lights on, doors/cabinets open, to minimize the need to touch surfaces in the home.
  • Anything touched during a showing must be sanitized before the next visit.
  • Allow for 30 minutes between each showing
  • Any in-person activity (showing, appraisal, inspection) shall require the use of a face mask
  • Verbal screening of a visitor’s health must occur 24 hours prior to the visit.
  • Name/Contact information must be gathered for each in-person visit (for purposes of contact tracing) and kept on file by the Realtor.
  • When possible, viewing a home online first is recommended
  • When possible, the use of electronic signatures is recommended
  • No materials to be left out (marketing materials) or left behind (business cards)
  • A Property Access Notice (PAN) form must be signed by Seller and anyone doing in-person activity at the property. This is a new Pennsylvania Association of Realtors (PAR) form and is required.
  • A Seller should be provided with CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting a home by their Realtor.

A significant note is that for any county in the green phase the above restrictions do not apply.  Green phase counties simply need to follow the statewide general guideline.  At the time of the writing of this article the only green counties in the Susquehanna Valley are York and Adams (and additional counties to the west and north).

The transition from Red to Yellow to Green will adjust how some Realtors and their clients will navigate the list above.  I’ve sold real estate for nearly two decades and know that some Realtors will take this seriously and others will be lax.

Whether Red, Yellow or Green the message to you is…as a Seller you have the right to set the parameters on how your home will be shown and what the expectations are for your visitors. If you have a higher risk or underlying conditions please speak up and share that with your realtor.

With this is in mind what should you think through and what should you discuss with your realtor?

First – How strong is the virtual presentation of your home?  Is the home staged?  Professionally photographed?  Is there a virtual tour?  Is there a 3D tour (allowing you to move through the home and pan left or right at the click of the mouse)?

With the emphasis on using an online viewing before visiting a home make sure your home shines and is fully marketed.  From my own experience, I’ve had my listings professionally photographed and staged for the last 10 years…it makes a BIG difference.  More recently I’ve used virtual tours in the last few years, and have now begun to use the 3D tour for homes.  As times change so should the tools your Realtor brings to the table.

Second – How will you handle the cleaning of a home post-showing?  Will you return to do it after each showing?  Will you expect the Buyer’s agent to clean?  Who provides the cleaning materials?  What happens with the trash produced as a result?

None of these are difficult questions but it will be critical for Sellers and their Realtor to create a plan for the process.  In my experience, I would have the home properly prepared so visitors will only need to touch surfaces minimally, if at all.  To that end, if anything is touched I would ask the Buyer’s agent to clean those surfaces since they will have firsthand knowledge and know what specifically to clean.  I do recommend that the Seller provide appropriate cleaning materials.  As a Seller, you may have special cleaning solutions for different parts of your home…a brass door knob for example…and a disinfecting wipe with bleach may not be the best choice for every surface.  I would also provide plastic bags (like the ones from the grocery store) that can be used to transport out of the home (by the person visiting) any trash that is generated.

I have created simple document for my Sellers that allow them to indicate how they want showings handled, along with any special instructions on cleaning, where cleaning supplies will be located, and a place to indicate other concerns.  I provide this completed form to all agents or other visitors so all parties can know the expectation.  Again, as times change so must we and I’ve found my Sellers have appreciated the forethought.

Third – Confirm that your Realtor will be asking the screening questions on the health of visitors, and will be gathering the name and contact of all visitors.  This may seem obvious since it is a requirement issued by the Governor, but of all the guidelines issued regarding real estate this is the one I’ve heard the most argument regarding.  I won’t debate the merits of these two guidelines, but would suggest that whether I agree or not I must abide by them.

In closing, I’ve heard the phrase “the new normal” used quite a bit during this pandemic.  It is often said with a bit of sarcasm and regret for what we’ve lost over these months.  There has indeed been loss we’ve experienced and there are changes we are learning to live with.  I choose to use the phrase “the current normal” because circumstances will continue to cause us to adapt…it is part of life.  And in truth, not all change is bad.  I trust you are well, adapting to the current normal and I wish you success in selling!


About Mike Julian:

Mike Julian, Associate Broker at Realty One Group Unlimited, is a 17 year real estate veteran and has helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes in Central PA. His “Extra Mile” approach to real estate has helped him to become a top agent locally and nationally.   Mike was President of the Realtor Association in 2013, was honored with the Distinguished Service Award in 2015 for his work with clients and his dedication to the real estate industry.   In 2016 Mike was named Realtor of the Year and in 2016 he ranked in the top 1% of all Realty One Group franchise agents across the nation.

He’s served the Senior market with distinction and is recognized as the area’s top Senior Real Estate Specialist.  You may have even seen his face on a billboard recently going down route 30.  He is avid outdoorsman, and is currently hiking – bit by bit – the stretch of the Appalachian trail that runs through PA.

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