How to Sell Your House During the Pandemic
Selling Your Home in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Right now, military home sellers are positioned in the middle of a triad of concerns surrounding the sale of their house. For one, they’re grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and how to best manage the health and safety of all parties during the various stages of selling a home, from showings to the closing date, which could either be in person or a virtual experience.
Secondly, they’re feeling the pressure to take advantage of the intense seller's market that has been raging for the past several years before the interest rates inch back up. And as of now, and likely the foreseeable future, the continuance of low inventory of homes on the market drives prices higher, which means sellers are eager to take advantage of the attractive offers.
And last, military homeowners are asked to manage these real estate trends with the often unmanageable timelines they’re given to PCS. The notice may be short, repeatedly delayed, or extended for months.
How do you balance these factors to make the right call for your situation as a military home seller? These tips for selling your home during COVID-19 will help guide your choices.
1. Plan for Safe and Creative Selling Solutions
A seasoned real estate agent can be your best guide through the complexities of how to sell your home during a pandemic. They’re continually keeping up to date with not only the guidelines the CDC is providing, but also taking into consideration your comfort level with public interaction, while keeping safety in mind.
Depending on the impact of COVID-19 in your area, there’s also a good chance there is a regional perspective on the virus. Consider these attitudes as well, especially as the vaccine rollout picks up across the country.
How to Create Safer Showings and an Open House
Develop a plan for showing your home to would-be buyers that suits your family’s safety needs. This plan might include a temporary rental for the duration of the home sale process.
Some military homeowners may have the flexibility to temporarily or entirely move out of the home during the selling process, which drastically minimizes contact with the public and may be very important to high-risk families. But, if this absence is not possible, some of the safety precautions some real estate agents and buyers are incorporating and perhaps insisting upon include:
- A disposable showing kit. The kits should contain gloves, shoe bootie covers, masks, hand sanitizer for the agents and potential buyers to use during the showing.
- Scheduling showings without overlap.
- Masks at all times.
- No children on the property.
- Hand sanitizer available at multiple points in the house.
- Lights on and interior doors open to minimize high touchpoints.
- After the showing, wipe down doorknobs, drawer pulls, countertops, switch plates, and faucets.
2. Lean into Virtual Home Selling Options
Military members have the advantage of more know-how regarding virtual technology than the average buyer and seller. Savvy real estate professionals and military families have been conducting various versions of virtual real estate transactions for years. It’s just now, during the pandemic, that these options have been accepted and amplified throughout the industry.
Perfect Your Online Presence
The good news is that your home listing has the opportunity to debut in front of a greater audience. Not only will you have the attention of traditional buyers, but you’ll also have the reach to entice buyers who are only interested in a virtual transaction.
But here’s a bit of bad news—those online listings and pictures are available 24/7, which means buyers have access to examining every nook, cranny, and angle, repeatedly and will make comparisons over and over. You’re going to lose the benefit of the human mind’s inability to catalog details viewed during a 30-minute open house.
Virtual Tours and Your Online Listing
This immediate access requires your pictures to be high quality and the listing to be comprised of clear and concise, yet detailed content. Let’s not forget the importance of curb appeal, which is showcased predominantly in your exterior photographs and is likely the very first impression buyers have of your property. The home’s interior must be photographed in the best light and angle to accentuate the best features while minimizing the less than perfect details.
Quick tips for the best quality pictures and virtual tours:
- Clean and declutter from top to bottom.
- Make repairs and remove eyesores.
- Turn on lights and turn off overhead fans.
- Open window coverings to embrace natural light.
Virtual buyers will more than likely also want to schedule a live tour that allows them to ask questions and have on-the-spot answers. Expect that you or your agent will field a variety of questions, such as, “What does the kitchen pantry look like inside?” and “What does the front yard look like from the street?”
Need more information on how to craft the best ad? Check out The Best Do's and Don’ts for Your Home Listing.
Traditional home staging has demonstrated its positive return on investment over and over again. Even if you prefer to have your home completely marketed virtually, you may determine that home staging is a productive home selling strategy in your area. For many cities, professional home staging isn’t a luxury; it’s a must-have service to receive the asking price you’re hoping for.
If you’ve decided to pack up and move out before the sale closes, you may want to explore virtual staging options. This service could elevate your property’s online presence and provide a better understanding of furniture placement for virtual buyers.
Remote Real Estate Services
From emails to phone calls and various apps and virtual tools, most real estate services offer the opportunity to cut down on in-person interactions. Traditional services such as the home inspection and appraisal are moving away from the need for the homeowner or agent to accompany the vendor. The choice between in-person or a virtual consultation should be managed by your preferences and what the service provider is prepared to perform.
After the back and forth of the sale negotiation comes the closing day on your home. In accordance with your state’s laws, you can sign some or all of the document online. In some cases, only the essential people will need to be in person. If you're working with an agent, they can help guide you toward closing companies that can accommodate your wishes.
Safely selling your home during the pandemic is entirely doable and potentially profitable. But even during best-case scenarios, a real estate transaction has plenty of opportunities to derail. Over the pandemic, expect technical difficulties, a shortage of vendors, and the distinct possibility someone on your selling team could become ill, causing delays and pushed back dates. Staying flexible and managing your expectations will help you get through the unusual circumstances of selling your home during a pandemic!
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