The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made a profound impact on the real estate industry over the last few months. With about a third of Americans working from home and/or spending more time indoors due to city- and state-wide lockdowns, stay-in-place orders, and social distancing measures, expectations have shifted across the board.
Whether it’s buyers emphasizing a specific feature in a home, sellers delivering on buyers’ demands for convenience, or real estate agents helping to facilitate a new, technology-driven process, the coronavirus has changed how ‘home’ is defined.
Suddenly, a home is not just a place to retreat, but it’s also where we work and educate our children. Beyond COVID-19, increased expectations for a home office, a home classroom, and a recreation room may alter the real estate landscape in the near and distant future.
Although some counties, including Sacramento, have slowly begun to reopen, it’s difficult to predict what real estate will look like once the pandemic is over, or once the worst of it has passed. So what can you do now to prepare for real estate success in a post-COVID-19 world? Read on for some tips buyers and sellers can use.
How buyers can prepare for a post-COVID-19 world
- Get pre-approved. With 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus, now is a good time to take a hard look at your finances. Ask yourself: Am I financially ready to buy a home? Get pre-approved for a mortgage to find out if you’ll truly be ready to purchase a home post-COVID-19.
- Research property taxes. Plan ahead by researching the property taxes in the area you want to live in.
SmartAsset’s property tax calculator is an easy, user-friendly way to get an estimate. Just fill in the location of where you want to live and your budget for a new house.
- Review your finances. If your employment or income status has dramatically changed since COVID-19, set goals for the home you’re hoping for, but be realistic about where you stand today. Then, create a plan for where you want to be and how to get there.
- Tour homes online. COVID-19 has created new avenues for showcasing homes to buyers: virtual 3D experiences and live streaming video. You can tour a house without leaving your own home and experience the space as if you were physically present. You can also live stream through FaceTime or another streaming tool. Just work with the seller and/or agent to set up an appointment when you’re ready.
- Update your ‘must-have’ list. Think about how your needs have changed since the coronavirus outbreak. For example, if you’re like others who’ve had to suddenly work from home, you may want to add an office to your list. Alternatively, if you’ve lost income, you may need to scale back your expectations to play it safe.
How sellers can prepare for a post-COVID-19 world
- Clean your house. Due to COVID-19, you might not know when you’ll be able to make your home listing live. In the meantime, it’s best to clean, maintain, and stage your home for a virtual tour so you have some semblance of control as you wait for the right time to put your house on the market.
- Meet with your agent digitally. Use web conferencing services like Zoom to meet with your agent and/or buyer safely and conveniently. You can share your screen and even upload documents to collaborate on assessing, pricing, and listing the home now or post-COVID-19.
- Square away small repairs. Take some time to fix minor problem areas in your home, which can also help maximize the listing price. Think light switches that don’t work, wobbly doorknobs, and cleaning or repainting walls with scuff marks. Just make sure you can handle the costs of any supplies you might need.
- Tackle exterior projects. Think about easy moves you can make to improve the exterior of your home. Whether it’s as simple as raking leaves from your lawn or as involved as painting your front door, the effort you put in beautifying your home on the outside will be worth it.
It’s understandable if you feel anxious over what the real estate landscape will look like — from the buyer and seller perspective — in a post-COVID-19 world. We hope these tips help ease the burden as you navigate an uncertain future in more productive ways.