April 1, 2020 Update: After this post was written the Northwest MLS revised their guidelines for what is activities are allowed to take place during the stay-at-home order. Professional photographers and stagers are now allowed to provide their services. Social distancing guidelines must be observed and no more than two individuals may be present at the property at any one time. In an occupied home this means sellers should vacate their home prior to the services being conducted.
At this point it feels like ages ago that I was being asked how I felt the Coronavirus would impact the real estate market. That was early March and it was a little too early to tell how things would play out. When confirmed cases of the virus started hitting Washington that all changed quickly. The first big indicator being open house traffic slowing considerably. In about a week or two we should have the March market statistics release from the Northest MLS and I will write a post to share how things are trending. That said, the real impact will be lagging because most of the March closings would have been under contract in February which was before things really started to change. The April market statistics will be very telling as to how the virus is shaping our housing market. I feel fortunate that even though my family has been practicing stay-at-home and following social distancing guidelines since mid-March, I have a number of pending transactions right now which I’m able to facilitate by phone calls and electronic document signing.
Initially when Jay Inslee announced the stay-at-home emergency order for Washington State, real estate brokers were not considered essential so we were required to stay home. That meant we could work on transactions electronically, but we were not permitted to conduct any business outside of our homes. Many felt that due to the COVID-19 situation impacting jobs and the economy that it was important to be able to sell or refinance a home. In response on March 27, Jay Inslee signed a memorandum allowing real estate brokers to operate outside their homes in a limited capacity. Basically what this means is that during the stay-at-home order brokers may now conduct showings, inspections, final walk-thrus and meet with a client to sign documents. The restriction to these allowed actions is that no more than two individuals may be on site at any time and all social distancing guidelines must be observed. Even though document signing in-person is allowed, I recommend that you sign documents electronically while having your agent address any questions via phone or video call.
So what would selling a home look like during the stay-at-home order? Here is how I would help a client list their home while the order is in effect:
- Walk me through the home on a video call and I send you all the documents to sign electronically (preferred).
- Alternatively I meet with one member of the selling party at the property to review and sign documents, followed by any other owner(s) on the title signing.
- My husband Josh visits the property takes professional quality photos including drone photos as needed (photographers are not considered essential during this time but my husband is a licensed broker with my company so this is allowed).
- Your home is now listed, agents may now show the home with one other individual at a time.
- Offers are reviewed by phone and email with any documents signed electronically.
Stay safe, follow your local rules, and practice social distancing.