Since March, every industry in the US has been impacted in some way by the novel coronavirus. Here in California, the shelter-in-place and social distancing orders certainly gummed up the cogs in the real estate market, but it hasn’t stopped the market entirely. Since March restrictions have been slowly loosening, but ‘standard practice’ certainly looks different today than it did a year ago.
State, county, and city may have different rules, but I’ll be going off of the orders for Santa Clara County, CA, where I do most of my business.
Main things to know:
- open houses are not allowed
- broker tours (in person) are not allowed
- a buyer’s agent may show two people a home at one time max
- fliers and other paper info (business cards etc.) are not to be used
- buyers and other entrants must sign a PEAD-V form before they can go to the property
- masks must be worn
- many homes are shown with a 30 minute time limit
- some sellers or listing agents have further restrictions
As of May 4th, the ban on showing homes was lifted but with very clear rules put in place to maintain the safety of buyers, sellers, and agents. Some of the restrictions include practicing social distancing, the use of masks, limiting the number of people who can participate in a single showing, and that the selling agent clean and disinfect the home between showing appointments. New paperwork is also required by both buyers and sellers, namely health-risk advisories addressing the pandemic and clearly listing the rules for showing and best practice procedures.
Open homes are still not allowed, and paper advertising is not permitted, but agents are making it work by shifting to virtual alternatives. Broker tours (and soon open homes) will be done virtually with the seller’s agent walking agents and buyers through the home via Zoom or Skype. Online marketing for homes is being amped up, also making use of photo and video home tours. Transaction papers are distributed, signed, and filed digitally, though some vendors (such as stagers, photographers, and inspectors) are considered essential and are able to work following strict guidelines for social distancing.
As coronavirus case numbers fall and more restrictions are lifted, the market is starting to heat up again in some areas. Between the shutdowns and the economy there has been some definite cooling in the market this spring, but demand is still high. And I’m remaining optimistic. Over the last few months we’ve adjusted to many changes in the real estate market, and while there are likely going to be many more changes down the road we’ll face them when they come.
This post has been a brief glimpse into what has changed and what you should expect if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home during the covid-19 pandemic. To read more, visit the post Coronavirus impact on real estate sales on my other blog. That page is regularly updated with any changes to the rules.