COVID-19 changing home buying, selling process

Posted at 4:38 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 23:22:31-04

Your computer mouse could be the tour guide to your next home.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, real estate agents are no longer allowed to hold open houses, give tours, or meet face to face with clients.

"We are just getting more creative, essentially, in terms of some of our homeowners that have their houses for sale are participating from home with their own camera, taking pictures or doing video tours with people that are interested," said Preston Miller, a broker with Modern Broker.

While virtual home tours are not completely new, real estate agents say they are now being used in new ways.

"What we are trying to navigate now is the unknown of how long we are going to be in this case, and for listings that are potentially up and coming, how are we going to get those videos and pictures?" said Tammy Atkin, co-owner and broker of Coldwell Banker in Lompoc.

According to real estate agents, mortgage loans are still moving forward and escrow companies are still operating, just doing so remotely and electronically.

Miller said while he suspects COVID-19 will have implications on the housing market, it is still unknown what those might be.

"Even in the most stable of markets, as real estate professionals, we don't have a crystal ball. We all wish we had that crystal ball," MIller said.

Others, however, say this is unlike the 2008 housing crisis that tanked the economy.

"Fortunately this time, this is not a housing crisis. It is something that is outside of housing and the housing market is stable, it is strong. I truly believe it is going to be our housing market and the strength of our economy that is going to help us through this recovery," Atkin said.

San Luis Obispo County realtor Robin Mitchell Hee said she feels optimistic the housing market will get through this bump in the road.

"Goldman Sachs just came out with some projections for the economy showing a 'V' shape, so it is going to go down but it is going to come back up fast," Mitchell Hee said.

She said those in the market should take this pause to prepare for when things do pick up again.

"I am telling those clients of mine that have been getting ready to sell... use this time to get your home ready. Organize closets, clean out drawers, paint walls, make repairs. Be ready to go to market. I am telling my buyers to get pre-qualified with lenders and that way when the shelter-in-place is lifted, we are all ready to move," Mitchell Hee said.

Real estate agents say for now, they will continue using technology to make sure everyone stays safe and homes continue be be bought and sold.