Real Estate & Life In The Time Of COVID-19!
Alisa Johnson writes about coping positively with significant change afoot:
Oh, how you have shifted our way of life. Although we had heard Covid-19 was coming, I am not sure any of us understood exactly how this would play out. I am a mother of two. One of which has an autoimmune disease. She receives infusion therapy treatments on a regular schedule and is considered “high risk”, so the news for me started a month or more ago coming up with a plan to keep her as safe as possible. In fact, I was coordinating short term independent studies at home once we heard Covid-19 was headed to the US. But just one day after that the schools started to close and new information was coming at me. It felt like a whirlwind between being prepared and being panicked. So, what I did is what I know how to do best. I started planning. I got some extra supplies for my home. Nothing over the top, just enough for a few weeks. I made a plan for my kids to be home and limited contact with friends and family to safe distance. Then I moved to my business. I started putting things in place to continue business as normal. I had nine homes in escrow at the time, seven active listings and nine new listings prepping to come on market. Although plans were in place and I was taking precautions, I am known as the cautious or protective one, so preparing was not a challenge. Some things we started immediately: Lysol door handles and light switches, carrying gloves and hand sanitizer, keeping safe distances while touring and keeping doors open for fresh air in homes we toured. Then, out of no-where, we got the information handed down, “Stay Home or Shelter in Place” per the State. This was not an issue as I thought Real Estate would be essential. It is currently not. Escrow teams were moving to home offices and mobile signings only, county offices were going to E recording only and so many other little details that would likely bore you.
I had a choice.
Either stay home, watch movies and eat popcorn, or figure how to continue to serve my clients the best way I could while respecting the governor’s orders. So here I am working from home, having now closed four of those escrows successfully during this time and preparing to close the others. All our listings other than vacant land are in escrow and we are carrying on. We have made changes how we do signings for escrows and so far, that has been great. We have changed how we “hand off keys” to new owners and handle property access for inspections. 100% of our work is handled online. I have started working with upcoming listings, providing online consultations, using technology to meet via video calls, or having owners upload me videos or pictures of their home so I can continue to offer market value reports and take listings that will go live later in April/May. Sellers also have extra time to get their home in top shape to be the best -looking property online when we do list!
What do I miss the most?
The interaction! I had to say good-bye to clients moving out of area over the phone, or over six feet apart with no hugs goodbye. I miss my team being in the office chatting almost daily and collaborating. Going forward our service to our clients might be coming across on a different platform but the core of who we are and how we do business is not changing. Technology is our friend and every day I am learning more tools to best serve my clients in the ever- changing world we live in.
HomeSmart & Our Team Institutes Significant Protective Measures!
Real Estate Update –
Real Estate is now listed as an essential business. Some tasks can be accomplished out and about, including showings, while observing the strict guidelines below. We are working primarily from our home offices, working on real-estate listings and buyer activities virtually as much as possible. In instances where it is necessary to show homes in person, we are observing state and local, CDC & HomeSmart guidelines detailed below:
The Big Question: May I Go Back to Work?
The Short Answer in The Counties We Primarily Operate as of 04/03/20:
- El Dorado County: NO
- Nevada County: YES***
- Placer County: YES***
- Sacramento County: NO
- Yolo County: YES***
***Operating in the unrestricted counties are on a AS-NEEDED, LAST RESORT basis.
See below for more details.
A MAP TO GUIDE YOU:
What are the recommended best practices that must be followed in all circumstances?
- Showings should be done virtually, if at all possible.
- All activities should be completed electronically, if at all possible.
- Only a single agent and no more than two other individuals are to be in a dwelling at the same time during a showing. If other persons are necessary for a showing, they should wait outside or in their vehicles to observe the social distance guidelines.
- Sellers are to be advised that they should not be present within a dwelling at the same time as other individuals. Sellers are to be advised that they may remain on the property or in the common area of an HOA but not in the dwelling unit itself while agents, buyers, inspectors or others are viewing it. If a seller insists on remaining on the property, that seller is to agree to the terms and sign the declaration (see below) that is required for persons entering the property.
- Agents should read and understand the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to protect yourself. This is critically important!
- Any persons on the property must agree to adhere strictly to the social distancing guidelines at all times by remaining at least six feet apart per the recommendations established by the CDC.
- Any person entering a property shall provide by declaration that to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu; do not have a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms; have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19; and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for viewing the property at all times. All persons visiting a property will agree to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer prior to entry, and to wear disposable rubber gloves and a protective face mask, if one is made available. In addition, sellers must disclose to all persons who enter the property if the seller is currently ill with a cold, flu or COVID-19 itself, or has a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms, or has been in contact with a person with COVID-19. Further, if anyone who enters the property is later diagnosed with COVID-19, the person who is diagnosed must immediately inform the listing agent, who will then make best efforts to inform everyone who entered the property after the person diagnosed, of that fact.
- Sellers and buyers must be expressly made aware of the risks of showing and visiting properties: that it may be dangerous or unsafe and could expose them or others to coronavirus (COVID-19). Sellers and buyers must be advised of their responsibilities pertaining to COVID-19 protocols regarding social distancing and other CDC guidelines.
- The agreement of the seller allowing any person entering onto the property or into the dwelling must be expressly obtained from the seller. Apart from marketing and pre-marketing activities, a standard purchase agreement grants the buyer broad discretion to conduct various inspections and investigations. The seller should be apprised of their obligations under the purchase agreement so that they enter into such agreements with a clear understanding of the attendant risks.
- To the extent possible, the use of various third-party services providers for non-essential services must be avoided and, where unavoidable, the providers must agree to sign an agreement to follow CDC guidelines.
- REALTORS® should follow the above protocols when conducting any in-person interactions, but should refrain from any non-electronic unsolicited marketing during the COVID-19-related declaration of emergency.
- Brokers should consider extending listings and putting a hold on marketing activities or other accommodations for those who, for health or other reasons connected to the COVID-19 virus, wish to stop actively marketing their property for the duration of the governor’s stay-at-home order.
- Unless absolutely necessary, communications with clients should be done via electronic means or by telephone. In person conversations should be minimized unless absolutely necessary.
Best practices related to entering a seller’s property:
- Listing agents should not leave brochures and flyers in the property but instead utilize any showcasing or other marketing features available through one’s MLS system to highlight the property.
- All showings are to be held by appointment only.
- Discourage anyone who does not need to view the property from attending a showing.
- Agents conducting the showing should meet clients at the property and not drive the client to the property, so as to minimize risk. Information relevant for the showing should be provided in advance to the clients electronically. Keep in mind that MLS rules generally require agents to have obtained seller’s permission for client to enter without the agent being physically present.
- Consider limiting in-person, non-virtual showings to “serious” potential buyers, who are those who have provided verifications of funds and lender prequalification letters to show they are able to purchase the property that is the subject of the showing.
- Let the seller know well in advance that there is an appointment for a showing.
- If using a lockbox, be sure to disinfect the key, the box, and the doorknob prior to utilizing.
- When using disposable gloves, be sure to put them on prior to entry and to dispose of them after leaving each property.
- Ask seller to turn the lights on and leave interior doors, drapes and blinds open. If the property is vacant, agent should ensure these tasks are taken care of prior to the showing.
- Refrain from touching any surface during a showing.
- As indicated above and following the CDC guidelines, maintain a safe distance from anyone in the property by staying a minimum of six feet apart.
- If the size of the residential unit makes it difficult to maintain the six-foot distance for all parties attending the showing, individuals may need to wait outside and come in the property one at a time, at all times maintaining proper social distance.
- Bring your own sanitizers, and gloves — don’t rely on others to bring them. If hand sanitizers are unavailable, liquid hand soap for hand washing should be made available.
- Follow suggestions in the CDC’s Cleaning & Disinfecting Guide and provide this information to your sellers, advising them to disinfect the property according to those guidelines after the showing is complete.
- Discussions after the showing with the seller or clients should be conducted through electronic means such as email, telephone, Zoom or FaceTime, rather than in person, as maintaining a conversation while adhering to the social distance guidelines is difficult.
- For HOAs, have the seller obtain a copy of any new rules that may govern showings of common areas or entry to the property.
The following activities are permissible within these guidelines if all of the above best practices are followed:
- Listing presentations should be done virtually if at all possible.
- Planting for sale signs or have a sign company install the sign at the agent’s direction.
- Pre-marketing inspections.
- Having contractors or workers make improvements to the property.
The written approval of the seller for all pre-marketing activities must be obtained by the listing agent. No third party can enter the property if they have not agreed to follow CDC guidelines. Even for contractors and workers, gloves and other protective gear are mandated, as is the declaration that they are asymptomatic and agree to follow CDC guidelines.
To assist you, C.A.R. has released two new forms: One is a Listing Agreement Coronavirus Addendum or Amendment (RLA-CAA) for sellers and listing agents to sign, and the other is a Property Viewing Advisory and Declaration (PEAD) that is to be given to and signed by the seller, buyer, agents and anyone else who will be entering a property.
- Taking photography using a video-based system. Keep in mind that the usual copyright considerations governing photographic images still apply.
- Staging and de-staging should be virtual, not physical.
- HOA site inspections. The seller should check with the HOA to see what, if any, new rules may have been put in place as a response to COVID-19 and make sure that any inspections conform to those rules, or that consent of the HOA has been obtained for any exemption to those rules.
- Showing properties by appointment only (including rentals) to individual parties, one set of clients at a time.
- No open houses, broker tours or broker previews. A virtual open house or showing scheduled for a specific time may be permissible with the approval of the seller, however sellers should be advised not to be present during such a virtual open house, or agree to sign the declaration regarding being asymptomatic and to follow CDC guidelines during any such showing.
- REALTORS® should NOT BE conducting any face-to-face marketing during the COVID-19-related declaration of emergency.
The written approval of the seller for all marketing activities must be obtained by the listing agent. No third party can remain unattended at the property. For all persons entering the property, gloves and other protective gear are mandated, as is the declaration that they are asymptomatic.
26 Mar Covid-19 and Market Comments
BRYAN LYNCH MARKET OBSERVATIONS – THE VIEW FROM PROPERTY APPRAISING
by Bryan Lynch
This past two weeks has been a whirlwind to say the least. Early on, it was simply at times a shock and overwhelming as the corona virus pandemic news became a reality. As we’ve settled into our new environment, I’ve been impressed by the resolve of so many people to adapt and adjust. I hope all are doing the best they can through this. If need anything at all, please reach out. We all need to support and rally around each other.
For those obtaining a loan, this week Fannie Mae provided some temporary alternatives to a traditional full appraisal. These include either a desktop and/or 2055 Exterior Drive By. This new information has many scrambling to determine how this will go in the near term. For the most part, I’ve continued completing interior inspections following the inspection screening guidelines that have circulated among my profession. I’ve been and will continue being proactive with safety precautions at appraisal inspections (keeping social distance 6 ft away from parties (occupant(s) have congregated in one room or waited outside in some cases), gloves/masks/booties, etc. Before any inspection, I’ve discussed the above and screened clients so all parties are comfortable before meeting. If this is not a viable option, an exterior inspection is option as well.
Regarding the markets, it’s far too soon to gauge how the corona virus will impact the real estate market (both short and long term). Some properties have been placed on hold, taken temporarily off the market, showings limited, etc. This is new territory for us all and only time will tell the story of the impact (if any) on prices, marketing time expectations, buyer pool, etc. It will be very important to analyze active listings and pending sales post crisis date to see if that begins to indicate the market direction. Closed sales prior to Covid-19 may not be the best indicator for current trends. Again, the crisis is a fluid situation and very important to monitor the most recent market data as real estate professionals. Time will tell.
Stay safe out there!
Certified Real Estate Appraiser
Roseville Office : Auburn Office