Selling a House During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you were planning to put your house on the market in 2020 or beyond, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has likely given you pause. Is now a good time? Will prospective buyers come? Will they leave germs all over the place? And assuming you do go ahead with the sale, what changes can you expect with regard to the usual past procedures and practices?

Post-COVID-19 State of the Real Estate Market

Home buyer interest has decreased due to coronavirus-related concerns. Now just isn’t a time when most people want to take on the uncertainty and effort associated with a home purchase and move. Besides, their stock portfolios might have taken a serious hit.

That said, there are always people who have strong motivations to move, such as a new job in another state. If fewer sellers are putting their homes on the market in your area, yours might be an attractive option.

Also, some buyers are specifically looking to get to a location where they’re less exposed to crowds; perhaps a single-family home rather than property in a populous building, or a rural area rather than a crowded city.

Dealing With Strangers Visiting Your House

You have every right to protect your property from the possibility of contamination. Many real estate agents are canceling open houses or limiting the number of entrants, and focusing on arranging personal visits by serious lookers only; whom they check in with before the visit to make sure they’ll feeling completely healthy.

Real estate agents are also asking home visitors to use hand sanitizer, keep their hands by their sides, and wear shoe-covering booties.

As far as making your home appealing, the more you can declutter and clean before visitors arrive, the more they’ll be able to relax and enjoy its other fine features.

Selling Process Might Go More Slowly Than You Expect

Everyone is affected by this crisis, and a lot of people are involved in a home sale: bank officers, home inspectors, escrow agents, appraisers, and so on. Actions that might have once been completed in hours or minutes might have to wait, whether it’s because individuals are unavailable or because a shelter-in-place order limits all non-emergency travel.

Some service providers, such as attorneys, might have been designated “essential” in your state; but not necessarily all the providers you need.

The purchase agreement for your home will likely contain a closing date, but prepare to be flexible on this. Many real estate agents or associations are writing clauses into their standard contracts that basically foresee and make room for the possibility of delay owing to COVID-19 issues.

For instance, permissible sources of delay might include:

  • the home buyer or seller having been exposed to, infected with, or quarantined due to the coronavirus
  • travel restrictions affecting the buyer, seller, an attorney helping to close the transaction, or the buyer’s lender, or
  • other events beyond the parties’ reasonable control, such as delays in scheduling home, pest, radon or other inspections that were included as contract contingencies.

The closing of escrow might be possible to arrange to hold virtually, but this isn’t yet common across the United States. Expect challenges or procedures that must be conducted in stages rather than all at once, when it comes to getting all the documents reviewed and signed.

And if the courthouse or clerk’s office where the property deed needs to be filed is closed, that adds another delay.

More worrisome still, if the economy goes into a major recession, you could have a buyer pull out of the deal during escrow. Although you might then be able to retain the earnest money, be aware that purchase contracts are usually written to give buyers various escape hatches if their own circumstances, such as their ability to get a mortgage loan, change.

Another option during this time is selling to a cash homebuyer. This will allow only one showing to the homebuyer. It also takes the bank and other traditional “middle men” out of the process. Learn more by calling St. Louis Realty Advisors today at 314-270-1601.

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