Thinking of renting or buying a house during the Coronavirus pandemic? Despite the ongoing health crisis in America, many Americans are still choosing to move to a new home for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a job has been relocated or a rental lease is about to end. Whatever the reason, we know that finding a new home can’t always wait. So how does one go about finding and touring real estate in the midst of social distancing? Fortunately, savvy Realtors across America are harnessing technology to show, market and sell properties in the midst of Covid-19. Whether you are social distancing, self-quarantining or are following a strict “shelter in place” order from your local government, you can still tour and explore real estate. Here are 5 tips for looking at a potential home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
5 tips for renting or buying a house during the Coronavirus
Hire a knowledgeable and informed Realtor
The best thing you can do as a buyer during the Coronavirus pandemic is to hire a trustworthy Realtor who can advise you on the current situation in your local community. The buyer’s agent should be aware of all orders and restrictions happening in your area and should have a thorough understanding of how that impacts the buying and selling process. In addition, a reputable Realtor should be able to streamline the process for you, so that you don’t have to worry about paperwork, showings, appraisals and inspections. When hiring a Realtor, be sure to ask them these three questions: 1) Are they are able and willing to tour real estate for you?; 2) Do they know how to harness technology to carry out showings (i.e. Zoom or FaceTime)?; and 3) Are they following all Covid-19 best practices (i.e. washing hands, wearing masks and following orders from community leaders)?
Browse real estate online via real estate marketplaces
Before asking your Realtor to conduct virtual tours of multiple homes, narrow down your housing search online. Thanks to a number of online real estate marketplaces, you can now find properties right on your computer. These listings should have descriptions, photos and possibly 3-D tours where buyers can virtually navigate through the house to see rooms and details up close and personal.
Have your Realtor perform a live, virtual walk-through of the home
With Coronavirus precautions in place you may not be able to physically walk through a home with your agent. If this is the case, then we recommend asking your Realtor to give you a live virtual tour of the property. With a virtual tour, a real estate agent will walk through the home with a video camera, allowing buyers to see and experience the home without having to be there in-person. Unlike a pre-recorded virtual tour, a live walk-through showing lets buyers interact and ask questions throughout the tour. Realtors can use FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to perform live tours. According to the National Association of Realtors, other tools that can be used for 3-D interactive property scans include Matterport, Cupix and EyeSpy360.
Explore the neighborhood by foot or in the car
Interested in a property? If your local community has lifted its “shelter in place” order, and it is possible to walk outside while maintaining social distancing guidelines, then consider exploring the neighborhood and/or street by foot. If walking through the neighborhood isn’t an option, we recommend conducting an in-person driving tour of the street that you’re interested in.
Get pre-qualified for a home
Given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, sellers may be hesitant to allow buyers and agents inside their homes – especially if the seller is currently living on the property. At the very least, sellers will likely only allow pre-qualified buyers to tour the home (or their agents). If you are a serious buyer, then we recommend obtaining a mortgage pre-approval letter before asking for tours. A pre-approval letter from a lender shows the seller that you are serious about buying a home.
Tips for moving during the Coronavirus pandemic
Already found your new home? Here are several easy-to-follow tips for moving during the Coronavirus pandemic
- Avoid used cardboard boxes – Unfortunately, Coronavirus can remain viable for up to 24 hours on cardboard, according to the CDC. This means that borrowing used boxes from friends or taking used cardboard boxes from workplaces and recycling centers is a big no-no. Remember: this is not the time to borrow moving boxes and supplies from others. For more information about where to find cardboard boxes, check here.
- Have movers perform a pre-move virtual survey – Need a moving quote? Instead of having movers come to your home to inspect belongings in-person, ask them if they can perform a virtual inspection instead. Virtual communication tools, such as Zoom and FaceTime, offer an easy and safe alternative to an in-person inspection.
- Sanitize all surfaces after the move – Make sure to have plenty of disinfectant spray and wipes on-hand during moving day. Hand soap and hand sanitizer should also be placed in bathrooms and by the front door. After you move, sanitize cardboard boxes and high-touch surfaces (think: door knobs, staircase railings and iPhones).
- Ask movers to wear gloves and masks – Be sure to ask movers about any and all precautions they plan to take on moving day. Will they be wearing masks? How about gloves? Do they plan to practice good hygiene (i.e. washing hands throughout the day)? These are all important questions to ask when assessing whether or not to hire a moving company for the job.
- Maintain social distancing – Finally, make sure to maintain social distancing throughout the move. This might mean waiting outside while the movers move belongings in and out of the home. At the very least, you should stay at least six feet away from movers and those not in your household, in order to avoid catching or spreading this highly contagious virus.