Coronavirus has changed the way we tour, sell and buy homes. With stay-at-home orders lifting, traditional open houses and face-to-face closings may be out of the question, but fortunately, real estate agents to promote your real estate with many alternatives to protect the health of home sellers and home buyers alike.
1. Show your house virtually online.
Texas has lifted many business restrictions, but many government officials and real estate organizations still recommend that realtors limit showings. Luckily, realtors have more options than ever to show your home online, from interactive photo galleries to 360° virtual tours, which can be posted online or sent to prospective buyers directly. Many realtors already have experience recording video tours for long-distance home shoppers, and they can do the same for buyers and sellers who want to minimize contact due to coronavirus.
2. Set the stage.
Because most early interactions with home buyers have moved online, it is more important than ever to think seriously about how to stage your home and photograph it. Many home sellers think their home looks appealing because it is clean and clutter-free, but people who have never been to your home before may see things you don’t. Take photos and videos of your home, and send them to a few friends and your realtor to get feedback on what might look strange or distracting online.
If your home is empty, consider adding some staging furniture. 2D photographs don’t always show how big a space is or how the rooms are connected. Even the simplest staging can provide online viewers with a reference. And get the best photos you can. Ask your realtor for help and advice.
3. Take precautions for in-person tours.
If you are not living in the house you want to sell, you may be comfortable with more in-person tours, but if you are still living in your home, safety is a primary concern. Even if you have already moved out, it is still important to think about the safety of prospective buyers and your realtor. Consider only permitting in-person tours after interested buyers have viewed a video or 360° tour prepared by a real estate agent.
Before and after in-person showings, disinfect high-contact surfaces like door knobs, cabinet handles, and light switches. Ask your realtor to provide masks, gloves, booties, and hand sanitizer to everyone entering the home, or provide them yourself. Do not schedule more than one showing in the same 15-minute window to avoid too many people standing too close together.
4. Protect others who may need to enter your home.
Try to have masks, gloves and sanitizer on hand for inspectors and appraisers. If you are at high-risk for coronavirus, you may need to exit the home or stay in a different part of the house from inspectors and other personnel. Be prepared to leave written instructions or communicate by phone or text instead of interacting face-to-face. It is possible in some cases for the appraiser to assess the home without coming inside. Be sure you ask about your options as a home seller.
5. Consider closing remotely.
Remote closing was becoming more and more common for long-distance transactions in Texas even before coronavirus. For at-risk home sellers, it is now a necessity. Work with your broker to arrange for remote notarization, in which both parties can close from separate locations.
If you want to close in person, be sure everyone wears masks, does not share writing instruments, and sits six feet or more apart. Because Texas allows remote notarization for home closing, though, home sellers should consider remote closing as an option.