Home sellers always have lots of questions. But the evolving COVID-19 situation brings up even more uncertainty and anxiety about the process.
While the coronavirus remains a big element of daily life, many parts of the country are proceeding with phased reopenings. It’s no surprise that this is a confusing situation for a lot of people. Given this, home sellers and buyers are looking for answers from agents about what they need to know to help calm anxieties.
Here are our top 5 questions home sellers are likely to ask you during this complex time and how to answer:
1. Can We Still Sell Our House?
After the past few months, many people aren’t sure if it’s still possible to buy or sell a home in their market and how to get started. This question is basically asking: “Are you open?” So, if you’re operating and buying / selling homes, make sure your answer is a reassuring “Yes!”
A warm welcome can really put new potential clients at ease. Let clients know you’re open for business and ready to assist them on their sales transaction. Announce you’re operating:
- On your website
- On your social media accounts
- In your outgoing voicemail
- In your email signature
- In your initial interactions with new clients
Once clients understand that the local real estate market is still functioning, they’ll have questions about what has changed with the process. Be ready with useful answers and clients will be impressed.
2. Will There Be In-Person Showings or Open Houses?
Every seller this summer is likely to feel like a first-time seller because the process has changed so dramatically. One area that many buyers and sellers will be looking to you for guidance on is property showings.
You’ll first need to explain why traditional open houses are still probably not recommended in your area. That could leave sellers feeling less confident they’ll find a buyer, so be sure to go over all the alternatives and reassure them that interested parties can still see the property.
Make sure to show off the capabilities of the virtual showing and walkthrough technology that’s available, including
Sellers also have options including:
- In-person showings by appointment
- Showings limited to pre-qualified buyers
- Possibility for “sight-unseen” offers and purchase agreements
After going over some options, make sure to let the sellers have their say. This can help boost their confidence and make things run more smoothly.
3. What Precautions Will My Agent and Buyers Take?
With so much focus recently on cleaning and disinfecting, this is likely to be a top concern for both buyers and sellers.
It can help put sellers at ease to know that the health guidelines you are following for property showings have been established by trusted organizations such as the National Association of Realtors and your local association of Realtors. Your association may have additional disclosure forms you can provide to prospective buyers advising them to the risks and what actions are being taken to minimize those risks.
Be sure to go over the precautions you and any potential buyers will take when touring the home. Make sure to explain that:
● Showings will always comply with any local and state orders and social distancing requirements.
● Buyers and agents will wash their hands and practice social distancing, including waiting in their cars until the other party arrives.
● Buyers will be advised not to touch any surfaces, such as light switches, cabinet doors or door handles, and not to use the bathroom facilities during the showing. Sellers can help by leaving lights on and interior doors open.
● Agents will wipe down any surfaces touched during the showing, including the key and lockbox.
● Agents will keep a contact tracing log of everyone who has toured the home and buyers and sellers will be asked to self-disclose if they have any symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
4. What About Transaction Delays?
In these unprecedented times, home sellers may be worried about having their sale fall through due to delays caused by the pandemic.
Once the deal is in escrow, there are still a number of issues that could cause a delay affecting the closing date, including:
- New stay-at-home orders
- Scaled-back operations of inspectors or appraisers
- Travel restrictions affecting the buyers
- Mortgage approval and recording office delays
- Mandatory quarantine due to exposure risk
- Illness of one of the involved parties
Make sure to cover the possibility of a delay and the seller’s options. Explain the “force majeure” purchase agreement clause and any coronavirus addenda that may exist in your area, which adds flexibility to extend the closing date if needed.
5. How Will We Handle a Case of COVID-19?
A question also likely to be on the mind of buyers and sellers is what happens if someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or tests positive over the course of the sale.
While we all hope no one involved in a real estate transaction becomes ill, it’s smart to plan for the possibility.
Tell sellers about your commitment to service and safety. Review your plans for contact tracing and for self-disclosure by buyers and sellers of any symptoms or positive diagnoses.
Also ensure that you explain reasonable accommodation for fair housing and anti-discrimination laws that will help safeguard anyone with a former or current diagnosis.
Selling a home during a pandemic is a little trickier than during pre-COVID times, but knowing what questions home sellers will ask ahead of time can help you stay on track and look like a professional by being prepared with the answers. It’s also a time that you can show your clients that you care about their needs and concerns and be their trusted advisor in navigating this challenging time.
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