By: Heather Thompson
Real Estate services and associated roles in the KC Metro are considered an “essential service” even during Shelter in Place Orders with Covid-19. Keep in mind that even where real estate services are deemed “essential”, it may not be business as usual – many states require telework or remote work whenever possible and prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people, including in office spaces.
Realtors should endeavor to conduct as much work as possible remotely. Buying and selling homes continues to keep the economy moving along, even if it is being handled in a new way.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been sharing continuous information with Kansas City Realtors to ensure everyone is comfortable with the best way to keep moving forward. While many sellers feel that an open house is the ultimate way for people to feel welcome to come view their house without pressure, this may not be the best option for the time being. NAR reminds agents that “you are never required to put yourself at risk” when serving clients. Even if there are still local authorities that do not have shelter in place order, federal and state authorities discourage gatherings of ten or more people.
After discussing potential issues, if it is still agreed to hold an open house, it is the agent’s responsibility to ensure all necessary precautions to minimize exposure to, and the spread of COVID-19. It is encouraged to consider only allowing one buyer group to tour the home at a time. Of course, once the Open House time is complete, be sure to disinfect all surfaces.
Rather than holding an open house, now is a great time to leverage the many available alternative ways to market properties. We have an incredible array of available technology that allows “like you were there” opportunities. Three-dimensional interactive property scans, virtual tours, and even live tours with Skype, Facetime or Facebook. There are also programs to allow virtual staging to showcase a property.
We are fortunate to have technology on our side for communication and connecting with others. Social media like Facebook and Instagram are big ways that agents can showcase homes’ features with pictures and videos. There are many websites like Realtor.com, Zillow and the like for buyers to search their checklist of desires in a new home.
Homes are still getting actively listed, going under contract and closing each day – even during quarantine. It can happen.
We know the real estate market often takes off in the springtime, so with that in mind we reached out to Chamber member realtors to ask this question: What are a few of the top tips you suggest for homeowners to do in preparation of listing their home?
“The biggest tip that I would have is to make sure to reach out to a great real estate agent! No one knows the market better, and they will be able to give you tips to make your home more appealing, and how to do so without spending too much money. In certain homes right now, it is better to do absolutely nothing, as the buyer will want to put their own touches on the home. In other situations, it makes sense to do some updating. There definitely isn’t a blanket rule here, so make sure you engage someone who will look at your personal situation and goals and help you accomplish them.”
– Chad Dumas, Senior Vice President of Brokerage ReeceNichols Real Estate, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate
“A few of the best practices I suggest are making sure the home has curb appeal by updating the landscaping, trimming the bushes, clean out the gutters and add mulch or stones to the flower beds. The first impression is important. Have a pre-inspection or take care of as many details that you can foresee coming up on an inspection like peeling paint, leaks, and changing burnt out lightbulbs. For the pet lovers as I am, you have to clean the nose marks off the windows, empty the litterbox and if at all possible, remove your pets when showings begin. Your pets will be less stressed and buyers can enjoy looking at the home without Rover understandably barking and Felix running under the bed because strangers are in their house.”
– Mary Beth LaCroix, Betty Simmons Team – RE/MAX Best Associates
“I have four pieces of advice: (1) Declutter! Since you are planning to move anyway, get a head start on packing by boxing and/or donating unneeded personal items, clothing that is out of season, and other things you won’t need for awhile. (2) Clean! A deep professional clean is best. Let the company know you are preparing to sell. They should have a special package for you. Don’t forget woodwork, blinds, light fixtures & fans, plus windows if you can do it yourself. (3) Paint and carpet go a long way! Ideally replace worn carpet; at minimum, have it professionally cleaned. Paint in a neutral palate (your agent can help you choose the best color) or touch up as needed. If you have carpet in the bathroom, consider replacing it with tile. (4) Curb appeal! Most buyers will drive by your house before visiting with their agent. Make a fabulous first impression with fresh mulch, neatly trimmed landscaping, and colorful potted flowers on the front porch. Don’t forget to paint your front door; it’s an easy way to set your house apart.”
– Susie Gale, Gale Communities, Inc.
“You only have one chance to make a first impression. Curb appeal is very important. Especially coming out of the winter months. Take a minute to walk around your house with a buyer’s eye. Tidy up any loose boards, calk any places that need it, put down some fresh mulch. A fresh coat of paint on the front door is a nice touch. Welcome a potential buyer to your home. In my experience people buy a house (or not) in the first 10 seconds. So think of what they see, smell and hear when they open the front door and take that first look.”
– Cheryl Julo, Julo & Associates – ReeceNichols-Lee’s Summit