How You Can Sell Your Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The latest news are unsettling and everybody is nervous. The virus is spreading fast and even if you are not in the high risk group, there is a lot of economic uncertainty that people feel in North America and the world. If you have been thinking about selling your home, you are undoubtedly trying to decide whether to put everything on hold and wait until this blows over. At the same time you are thinking what will happen with the price of my home under such an economic strain. With the way the virus is spreading, the real estate market correction is all, but inevitable. We just don’t know how long and how deep. The Bank of Canada slashed interest rates to 0.75 per cent with an intention of stimulating the economy. Their actions were fast and decisive, but at the same time, interest rate decreases is a rough measure and there is a fast approaching limit to what they will be able to do, as the spread of the virus continues. With the way things are going, the next couple of months will be very telling in how deep the crisis is going to be. The economy will take a massive dip before it gets any better and if you can’t live through another correction and then wait again for a rebound - possibly for years, the time to sell is now.

Ok, you have made a decision to sell. What do you do from a practical standpoint? Let us give you a few ideas. Have a conversation with agents are you planning to hire or with your current agent and see how they have adjusted their practices. Have they changed the way they are dealing with clients to keep them safe? How about marketing the property, how have they changed their practices? Open house policies and showings, does it stay the same? How do they bring more eyeballs on your property and what do they do to keep buyers attention on your home? Don’t make a mistake of thinking everything is fine - far from it. Federal and local governments around the world are taking dramatic measures to curtail the spread of infection why wouldn’t your agent be in step with the times?

Let’s start with the first thing first. Interviewing agents. You don’t need to schedule appointments in your house and instead, can and should use video conferencing software like Zoom. It is easy to use and free. Agents can email you their marketing materials and go over them and the pricing while both of you are looking at computer screens from different locations. Once you are done with this qualification phase, invite them over to your house, so they can see what you are going to be selling and take them around. This will help you get a better feel for who they are and finalize a few things that you may have missed in your previous, remote interactions. They will then email you the listing paperwork for e-signing.

Next on the list is taking pictures. Here is where the agent needs to be on the ball. The previous limit on the number of photos they could load on MLS was 20. This is changing and they can now load up to 40. The selling game is about weeding out all those buyers not seriously considering your home and the more visual information they can provide them with, the more accurately the buyers will be able to assess their interest in your home without having to go there themselves. However the photos will only give them a part of the story. What you should also expect your agent to do is a curated video tour of your home and this is where buyers will truly be getting a feel for what’s going on inside and could better gauge whether they are interested in your property.

Once the home is on MLS, there will be showings. This is where the buyers come to see if your home is giving them the value for the money they want to spend. And this is where you need to be ready. First of all, ask your agent to install signs telling your visitors not only to remove their shoes, but a few other things as well. They should wear a disposable face mask, that your agent needs to supply. They should wash their hands with soap at a bathroom closest to your entrance door or use the sanitizing gel that your agents will supply as well. They should abstain from touching the door handles and light switches in the home, while you should make sure that all the lights are on and all the doors are open. And one other thing - you should forget about holding open houses.

If your agent is also responsible for showing you properties that you are considering for your next home, be extra specific with your criteria and have an in-depth conversation with him or her about your “must haves” and your wishes. Ask them to preview properties that you select on your behalf and have them report back to you with a curated video tour. Once you will have identified one or two strong potentials, go and see them in person, but also ask your agent to take all the same precautions you have been taking for your own home during showings. Have a face mask ready and wear it before getting into the house, have the agent open all doors for you and have them turn on the lights. You are there just to observe, ask questions and make decisions.

If you end up deciding that you want to become a landlord and rent your place out, instead of selling it, be very careful with the price. Set the price at 2% to 3% below the current market value to get most eyeballs on your property and to get people interested. Vet them well and  have your agent go through exactly the same process as you would for a sale - lots of high quality photos and a well crafted, curated video of your home that they will be using in marketing it. If you procrastinate or wait for too long you may end up with your home being vacant for months.

Before you get into any of it, ask your agent as to what their plan is and if you see them floundering - they are not the right agent for you. Select an agent who demonstrates common sense and adaptability. Get someone who can deliver, no matter what’s going on around us.

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