How is Real Estate dealing with Covid-19?
WOW! What a difference a month can make! My article last month was prepping buyers for a crazy, bidding war style of environment this spring. Now, homeowners are faced with many new challenges to selling their home! Covid-19 has really shaken up the entire country and even though Real Estate was deemed essential, that does not mean it is business as usual. There have been quite a few changes and I think it is important to discuss them.
In this current atmosphere, buying and selling homes has become difficult because everyone’s health and safety is paramount. This means that a number of traditional practices have had to be revised and changed so that social distancing is maintained. So, what’s changed? Open houses – homeowners no longer want to have strangers walking through their homes. Buyers do not want to expose themselves to possible infection by entering a stranger’s home. Foot traffic and face to face interaction has been virtually eliminated. The typical Saturday and Sunday open house signs are no-where to be seen.
In response, many Realtors are posting detailed virtual tours or even 3-D tours to allow purchasers a way of looking at a property without being in it. Now, you are probably thinking, how can I buy a house without actually seeing it? Most brokerages are accepting clauses that make a sale conditional, pending an actual viewing by the buyers. This means that you can come to an agreement to buy the home and have the ability to walk away without penalty should you view the property in person and feel it does not match you needs. A lot of people need to ‘feel’ the energy of a home before the purchase.
Additionally, OREA has introduced new State of Emergency Clauses that are to be included with an offer. For example, there is the Unable To Complete clause, that if your transaction is delayed due one of three reasons; the buyer or sellers bank or mortgage provider is closed due to the virus or the land registry office is closed the transaction completion date is automatically extended by 2 business days without penalty. In the past, if you could not meet one of those demands or complete your purchase within the specified timeline, you could face a penalty of losing your down payment or even the ability to complete the purchase. This clause protects buyers and sellers from things that are out of their control.
On the legal side of real estate transactions, the Law Society of Ontario had made changes in their regulations that allow for signatures to be witnessed via video conference. Legal offices have set up protocols in their offices to respect social distancing while finalizing all of the legal requirements to complete a transaction.
In summary, should you need to sell your home or buy a home. It is now more important than ever to work with an experienced Realtor like myself who can help you during this rapidly changing times.