The coronavirus pandemic has affected and impacted our lives like nothing most people have ever experienced in their lifetimes. There has been a stay at home and social distancing orders put in place. Many businesses and industries have been shut down. The real estate industry is still considered and deemed essential in most states. People still need to move. Before the pandemic started homes were under contract, leases were ending and new homes were being built. This has caused many people to have to move during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many practices that can be put into place to stay safe while moving during the pandemic.
Many People are Taking Precautions During the Pandemic
There are many real estate agents, buyers, sellers, and tenants who do not want to be around other people right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has instilled fear in people and rightly so. Some real estate agents and brokerages have put company policies into place that prohibit showing properties in person. Some sellers do not want buyers to physically come into their homes for showings. There are many buyers who want to look at homes virtually without actually going to a home for sale and risk being infected by the virus. Many tenants are also renting homes “sight unseen” just by viewing photos and videos of rental properties online. Many states have enforced laws prohibiting the showing of occupied rental properties thus protecting tenant’s rights.
Safe Practices For Listing a Vacant Home For Sale or For Rent During the Pandemic
If a home is vacant it’s easier to list for sale or for rent. A real estate agent can have the legal listing agreement signed virtually through an electronic signature program. The listing agent can ask the seller or property owner to have the house cleaned and disinfected from top to bottom. It should be agreed that anyone who goes into the home must wear a mask, gloves, disposable shoe covers, and use disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces that are touched. The real estate agent can safely go into the home and take photos, a virtual tour and a video of the home to be used in online marketing.
Listing an Occupied Home For Sale or For Rent During the Pandemic
A home that is occupied is a little more difficult to list. It is possible, however. The listing paperwork can be done online. The photos and a video can be taken by the homeowner or occupant. If the occupants and the real estate agent agree that the agent can go into the home to take the photos, virtual tour, and video, then every safety precaution must be taken. The homeowner or occupant should turn on every light in the home and open blinds and shades.
This way the real estate agent doesn’t have to touch switches, cords, or handles. The occupants should open the front door for the real estate agent and step outside while the agent goes inside to take the pictures. The agent should wear a mask, gloves, shoe covers, and use a disinfectant wipe to clean anything that is touched. The rest can be done from the agent’s office. More than 95% of buyers and renters look online for a home. The agent can post the photos, virtual tour, and video in the multiple listing system and on the various real estate websites.
Safe Practices For Showing Vacant or Occupied Properties During the Pandemic
Vacant homes are much easier to show. However, if sellers are willing to have real estate agents and buyers in their home for showings, it’s up to them. If buyers and renters want to see a home in person, they should be prepared to take precautions and practice safety measures. Real estate agents who are willing and able to show homes should ask that only the decision-makers attend the showing. They should ask the buyers or tenants if they have been sick or experiencing any symptoms of an illness.
They should require buyers or tenants to wear masks, gloves, and disposable shoe covers. They should perform “no-touch” showings where the buyers or tenants are not allowed to touch anything in the house. The real estate agent will wear a mask, gloves, shoe covers, and carry a disinfectant wipe to use while opening and closing doors, closets, and turning on and off light switches. The agents and the clients should practice social distancing by staying at least six feet apart during the showing. They shouldn’t linger on the property to talk after the showing. They can discuss the home by phone or email afterward.
If you are moving locally, many people are assuming that moving without help is the safest option. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works. The Coronavirus is spreading mainly from person to person due to close contact. As such, you want to minimize the number of people you need to be around while moving.
If you try to move alone, you’ll need to purchase packaging materials, a truck, and potentially even help from friends and family. Each of these contacts are opening your family up to exposure.
Instead, it’s generally a better idea to employ a moving company. That way, you’re dealing with one small team that’s getting their supplies from their company. If you employ a bigger moving company like Allied, they’re better suited to offer comprehensive service, which further limits your chances of being exposed to the virus.
The key is to find a moving company that’s taking sanitization seriously. Ask around to see what policies they’ve put in place during the pandemic. Are they testing their employees? Do they have a good way to sanitize trucks? Is their packaging new or are they reusing materials? Ideally, they’re prioritizing the health of their employees and clients every step of the way. If you find the right moving company, it will drastically reduce your risks while moving during this time.
Staying safe while moving during the pandemic is of the utmost importance. The National Association of Realtors® has published a guide which has very useful advice on staying safe while moving during the pandemic.