Can I Sell My Home During the COVID-19 Lockdown?

Our Broker and CEO, Kirk Waechter, breaks down what selling (and buying) looks like during the COVID-19 Lockdown.

COVID-19 has caused many businesses to adapt and change, especially ones like real estate that require person-to-person contact to do things like open houses, inspections, and more.

The most recent lockdown announcements in Philadelphia (and most of the tri-state area) have introduced new changes to how people can list and sell their house but, yes, it is still possible. At Prosperity REIS, we have successfully and safely assisted many of our clients in buying and selling their properties during the previous and current lockdown.

Overview:

Though many businesses are advised to close temporarily, real estate operations and transactions are some of the businesses permitted to continue through the lockdown. With that said, there are a number of new guidelines issued by the Philadelphia Health Commissioner:

  • No more indoor gatherings, in both public and private spaces. This is mostly specific to events such as weddings, showers, funerals and other celebrations or private gatherings of that nature.
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 percent capacity of said space. All individuals in this setting will need to be wearing masks. Food and beverage is not allowed.

With these new restrictions in mind, it is still possible to sell your home. There will be some major adjustments that will need to take place, especially when it comes to showings and open houses, but every step is still possible through the lockdown if handled by the proper team. The following list will outline how each procedure will be affected, and methods to adapt accordingly.

Listings During the Lockdown

It is still allowed within the lockdown restrictions to list your home for sale in Philadelphia. The process will need to be done with social distancing and masks, but your realtor will be able to help put your house on the market with some simple steps that can be done from the distance. Initially, the realtor will file the necessary paperwork on their end, and then a photographer will need to visit and take photos of the entire house. This can be done by one person and will not violate any restrictions.

All marketing of your home can be done digitally through services like Zillow and Realtor.com, as well as realtor-specific sites that provide information directly to buyers agents. Once the photos are completed and all forms have been filed by your realtor, the only step left would be to fill out your digital listing with descriptions and professionally-shot photos.

Showings During a Lockdown

Showings During the Lockdown

Traditionally, a realtor will show a potential buyer through the home in person, giving them a chance to walk around the space and get a feel for each room. That is understandably challenging with the lockdown, as indoor gatherings of any size are now discouraged. A one-person tour may still be done while following safe guidelines (keeping at a distance, wearing a mask, ensuring that all surfaces have been cleaned between viewings).

What becomes more challenging, though, is an open house. Many realtors prefer open houses, where many buyers can come through the house at one time. This allows for more exposure, while also bringing in more casual buyers that are not looking to book appointments. Open houses are no longer practical with the lockdown restrictions, but there are inventive solutions being developed in the moment to handle this problem.

Realtors at Prosperity are now able to conduct virtual showings, where people can tour a home with a virtual 360-degree perspective. They can travel from room-to-room, look around the space and envision themselves there, and there is no risk at all to lockdown restrictions. This allows for many buyers to view a house at the same time, while keeping everyone safe and following all guidelines.

The Prosperity virtual video will be entirely thorough, highlighting all utilities such as electric and air conditioning so buyers can have a more complete picture of the condition of the house through the virtual tour alone. This will cut the viewing pool 90% to the 10% that are ready to buy.

Inspections During a Lockdown

Inspections During the Lockdown

Inspections are a very important element to selling a home. Especially if the buyer will be viewing the house virtually, or an adjusted in-person viewing following lockdown restrictions, they will want the house inspected in detail to catch anything they may have not been able to see.

Fortunately, house inspections are still available during the lockdown. An inspector can often work alone, and if the buyer would like to be there they will just need to socially distance with masks. The process of filing an inspection and submitting it back to the seller is considered a real estate operation that is allowed during the lockdown as well.

Closings During a Lockdown

Closings During the Lockdown

Closing is the final step when going through a real estate transaction from seller to buyer. It is the time when the seller and buyer can negotiate, and finally transfer the title to the buyer when the deal is closed.

Almost everything about closing can be done virtually, from emails and phone calls between the seller, buyer, realtor and title company. The many documents such as house inspection, deed and loan documents can be delivered digitally by scanning or signing them with a digital signature. As such, the actual in-person closing is made more efficient. 

Prosperity takes an additional step in social distancing by allowing the buyer and seller to visit the office separately to sign closing documents. A notary may also travel to the seller and buyer to sign closing documents outside of the office to limit exposure.

Prosperity Real Estate & Investment Service has been safely helping buyers and sellers in the Philadelphia market throughout the pandemic, and continues to keep up to date on all restrictions. If you are looking to sell your home and want more information on how to get started in the lockdown, reach out today.