When the COVID-19 pandemic first began in the United States, the real estate market saw a quick halt on almost all operations. People shuttered themselves in their homes, made less frequent trips to the store, began working from home, and canceled social activities. Now, as people have learned to adapt to a new way of life, we’ve begun to have more virtual interactions and even make our purchases as hands-free as possible. Hospitality, food, and service industries have bulked up on their virtual offerings, trying to make it easy for customers to get what they want as safely as possible. The real estate industry moved quickly as well to make sure home purchases could move forward, holding virtual showings, meetings, and closings.
The Bright Side
At a time when meeting new people in-person poses new risks and challenges, people have decided to move towards holding virtual get-togethers, whether it is professional or personal. For people who were previously averse to phone/video calls, they had no option but to get on board if they wanted to be able to work remotely or touch base with friends/family. As with anything, with practice comes confidence. Now, people are sitting down at home holding phone and video chats like it's the early 2000s.
There is an added element of control in virtual communication. Yes, sometimes technical difficulties or lagging connections make it challenging, but overall, people like being able to set times to get meetings done and have become more comfortable picking up the phone to get something done. In real estate and many other fields, virtual may be our new normal or at least a common option for those who prefer it.
Virtual Consultations & Meetings
Meetings and consultations between agents and their clients have dramatically shifted since the pandemic. With mask mandates, dining occupancy regulations, social distancing measures, meeting in-person has become a bit awkward and tricky to navigate. A lot of clients have opted to meet with their Realtor virtually. During a virtual consultation, your agent will still be able to show you market data and go through properties on MLS with you. Instead of everyone viewing one screen, your agent can view theirs while you watch from yours. This can also be desirable in our Minnesota winters when traveling in the snow and ice is nothing to look forward to.
Virtual Tours & Showings
When you decide to buy a home, it is unlikely that you will buy that home sight unseen. Virtual tours became popular alongside sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com when the average home buyer began turning to the internet to start their home search instead of to an agent. Having great photos was sure to make a property stand out. Before the pandemic, most listed luxury homes contained virtual tours, but as more clients prefer to tour their options virtually, we may see this kind of feature more often in all home brackets.
In addition to pre-loaded videos of homes, real estate agents have been using virtual means, such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype to give property showings to clients. The agent walks around the home and discusses with the client as they get to view the property from their computer or mobile device. This is a great option for people who want to see more details of a home but do not feel safe doing in-person tours.
Contracts & Closing
All of your contracts and necessary disclosures can be completed virtually through an e-Signature that is obtained by services like AuthentiSign and lets you sign legal documents from home. Your real estate agent should explain each document and what it means to you before asking you to sign.
Closings can also be done completely virtually as well. Before COVID-19, the buying and selling parties would meet in a room and review the final paperwork, sign, and hand over keys. Now, even if you would like to have a closing in-person, it is more than likely you will be put into separate rooms or offices and the closing agents will bring paperwork for you to sign. You can complete your home closing virtually from your current home and retrieve your new keys whatever way is more convenient and safe for you or your family.
Although it feels strange, unnatural, and sometimes sobering to hold a meeting virtually, it offers a lot of the same benefits and outcomes that come from meeting in person. If you are someone who is high-risk or you have grown a preference for meeting virtually, you should always feel comfortable and supported to meet virtually with your real estate agent. They should be able to bring you all of the information you will need and offer insight for you from the safety of your home.
To learn more about how Novum Realty is operating virtually, visit our Facebook page and review our COVID-19 Response.