by Jason & Kelli Krafsky

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 (commonly known as the coronavirus) a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Preventing the contagious virus from massive outbreak has impacted every aspect of American life. In some parts of the country public schools have been cancelled; sports leagues are postponed; companies are making people work from home; and restaurants, bars, and churches have been indefinitely closed.

Since the emergence of the coronavirus and the media reports on infections and fatalities, a lot of the country’s attention has focused on the massive swings of the stock market. While nowhere near as volatile, the real estate market, mortgage lending, and the purchase and sale of homes have also been affected by the current events.

It may seem odd to try to sell a home in the middle of a pandemic, but some homeowners may be in a situation where they have to sell, some may feel they need to sell, and others may just want to sell. History shows that people buy and sell real estate in the best of times and worst of times.

To be clear, we are not advocating whether someone should or should not sell their home during the current public health crisis. People need to make the best decision for themselves. Regardless, selling a home while people are trying to practice social distancing and trying to avoid catching or passing on a virus means a whole new set of home selling practices have emerged.

We hosted an Open House in the epicenter of America’s coronavirus hot zone (general Seattle area) the weekend before mandates by the Governor of Washington and Northwest Multiple Listing Service set restrictions preventing them from occurring. Based on our interactions with potential buyers, our observations on the recent home selling activities, and thinking through better practices for selling a home in this current climate, here’s what home sellers can do to not only help sell their home, but minimize the chances of exposing themselves and others to the coronavirus.  

(NOTE: On 3/26/20, Washington’s Governor ordered stay-at-home orders for at least two weeks prohibiting non-essential services from conducting business, including real estate services. On 3/28/20, Governor Inslee modified the orders to allow limited real estate services allowing showings by appointment, limiting two people to view home at a time, and following all social distancing guidelines. Other state’s have similar directives to their citizens. These tips apply to listings in areas that do not have stay-at-home orders from their local government or allow limited real estate services.)

#1) PROTECT THOSE VIEWING YOUR HOME While it’s common to see booties at the front door of a home, add gloves, masks, and disinfectant wipes to the mix. Leave signs that encourage people to use them prior to touring the property. For our listings, we have brown lunch sacks at the door that contain a pair of booties, pair of gloves, a mask, and disinfectant wipes. Every person, including the agent, takes their own sack, and put on the protective items before touring the home. When leaving, they put their booties, gloves, and mask back into the paper sack and dispose of the items in a trash bag as they exit the property. Make it easy for people to protect themselves and others.

#2) CLEAN THE HIGH TOUCH AREAS Before someone comes to view your home, disinfect every knob, handle, and flat surface in the home. Think kitchen. Think bathrooms. Think staircase railing. Don’t forget to include the front, back, and garage doors (both inside and outside).

#3) LEAVE INTERIOR DOORS AJAR – When viewing a home, people want to know what is behind a closed door. To limit touching the knobs or handles, have the doors slightly ajar so they can easily be opened and potential buyers an easily see what’s inside. Remember to do this for a few drawers and cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms too.

#4) DISINFECT THE PLACE AFTERWARDS – Anytime someone has viewed your home, spend time when you return disinfecting the major touch areas including all handles, knobs, and flat surfaces throughout the home. While it’s a bit of a pain to do this after every showing, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

#5) INFORM BUYERS ON THE HOME – Due to the limits on the amount of people gathering, and to allow for proper social distancing, potential buyers will likely not spend as much time in a home checking it out. Be prepared to give them more information that you normally would not. This could include a description of pre-pandemic neighborhood life, making a pre-inspection report available upon request, posting feature cards throughout the home that share pertinent details on features and improvements (i.e. new water heater, age of roof, recent updates, counter and flooring materials, etc.), and creating a Q&A flyer on the home that buyers can take with them if they want to. Better yet, encourage those viewing the home to take pictures of the documents to take with them.

#6) SUBSTITUTE LIVE SHOWINGS WITH ONLINE VIDEO TOURS – while videos are often considered a feature for luxury homes or special properties, people really do want to see more than what pictures can provide. Ask your agent about Matterport, 3D tours, Facebook Live showings, and video tours. Any or all of these can be a good substitute when viewing a property in person is not convenient (or possible).

There are different views on how to function and live your life during this public health crisis. Before putting your home on the market, check on the latest national, state, county, and city mandates on approved and prohibited activities. Be sure to discuss these guidelines and rules with your real estate agent and share any concerns you have. Ultimately, public safety comes first. And if you need to sell your home during these turbulent times…it’s very possible to sell it and protect yourself and others against COVID-19.

ACTION ITEMS

Copyright 2020 K. Jason & Kelli Krafsky

About the Authors:

Jason and Kelli Krafsky are relationship experts turned Realtors, combining their relationship insights and real estate advice into articles and resources for home buyers, home sellers, and home owners at YourHomeLyfe.com!

Jason and Kelli Krafsky (a.k.a. Krafsky RE Team) are award winning brokers with John L. Scott, Inc. – Bellevue Main office and licensed real estate agents in Washington State. They work with home buyers and home sellers throughout the Puget Sound region and around the state, and often link people wanting to buy or sell outside the state with referred agents through YourAgentLynk. Jason and Kelli are also members of the National Association of REALTORS, Washington REALTORS, Seattle-King County REALTORS, and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The Krafskys have been married since 1994 and have four adult children.

Copyright 2020 K. Jason & Kelli Krafsky

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