The new rules of buying and selling property during COVID-19

6 min read
Jody Carey

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, buying and selling property looks different than it used to. Are you an agent wondering how to adapt?

When you’re accustomed to doing business with a firm handshake, in-person inspections and a chat in the lounge room, changing course can be hard. As a result of COVID-19, buying and selling property looks different and agents are finding new ways to keep everyone safe.

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Buying and selling property is different now

Remember when open homes were open and anyone could just wander in for a tour? Now:

  • Open homes have resumed in many areas but with safety measures in place
  • Virtual tours are becoming standard
  • Online auctions are growing in popularity
  • Private inspections are encouraged
  • Digital apps are making it easier to go paperless
Person Wearing Glove Cleaning a Drawer Handle
Open homes now require a higher level of cleaning and disinfecting to keep everyone safe.

Since social distancing restrictions started, there's been a rush to adopt online tools designed for the real estate industry. But buying property without an in-person inspection is risky.

How can real estate agents navigate selling when it may be some time before we're back to pre-pandemic living?

Keith Olsen is a real estate agent for McGrath Port Macquarie where, even during self-isolation, buyers from the city are looking to make a sea change.

"We can do more online, and it has helped, but it doesn't replace the human contact needed in real estate," he says.

Keith encourages his clients to narrow down their list before they attend an on-site inspection to avoid exposing themselves to unnecessary risk. Fewer potential buyers are attending open homes, but the ones who do attend are serious buyers, making it easier for agents to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Related: How to get a real estate license anywhere in Australia

What can you do to keep everyone safe?

It's the small changes that make a big difference, and many of the best practices that real estate agents across the country use are easy to adopt.

Before the showing

  • Contact the seller the day before the inspection to ask if anyone in the home is ill, self-isolating or has been overseas.
  • Discuss with the seller your plan to keep their property safe and how you’ll disinfect contact surfaces.
  • Ask potential buyers not to bring children or anyone from a high-risk group.

At the front door

  • Display a poster with the latest guidelines. You can find a print-ready poster here.
Closeup of a Hand Getting Sanitiser from a Pump
You can minimise COVID-19 spread by asking everyone to use sanitiser.
  • Provide hand sanitiser and encourage everyone to use it before they enter the home, and as they leave.
  • Greet prospective buyers but politely decline to shake hands.

Going paperless

  • Use your phone or tablet to collect contact details. You can email buyers a floor plan and spec sheet immediately or use a QR code that they can scan with their smartphones.
  • Offer to follow-up with documentation that you can send electronically.
  • Skip printing brochures and save money.

Protecting high-touch surfaces

  • Wear gloves while you prepare the home for inspection and change them during the open home inspections.
  • Before an inspection, open all doors and sliders so buyers can walk through the house without needing to touch anything. If they can see the entire property with their hands in their pockets, you're on the right track.
  • Open cupboards and wardrobe doors slightly.
  • Politely ask visitors not to touch anything and offer to help if needed.
  • Encourage everyone to observe social distancing guidelines.

Crowd control

  • If there are more attendees than can safely inspect the home at one time, ask people to wait outside until there is space.

Keith Olsen schedules his open homes with enough time between appointments, so everyone has ample time to walk through. Thirty minutes isn't much, but if you can schedule extra time, potential buyers won't miss an opportunity. "Even an extra 15 minutes makes it easier to manage," adds Keith.

But when it comes to working with a seller, not being able to meet with them in person has been challenging. How do you present a proposal and sign a contract when you're accustomed to sitting across from your client and walking them through the paperwork?

Related: Safe Work Australia COVID-19 Resource Kit

6 online tools that are here to stay

The pandemic has required everyone to work differently, and many changes will have a lasting effect on the real estate industry.

View of Home and Grounds from Above
Buying and selling property is a little more complex than it used to be. Luckily, we have apps.

These tools that help focus your efforts and streamline the paper trail aren't new, but they've quickly gained popularity in 2020:

  1. Virtual inspections using Zoom or FaceTime have made it possible to minimise the face-to-face parts of buying and selling property.
  2. 3D virtual tours are increasing in popularity.
  3. Signing documents digitally using DocuSign is simple and safe for everyone.
  4. Tenancy agreements with one-touch execution speed the process.
  5. Online auction platforms like Openn Negotiation make it easy for bidders to inspect the property with a pre-recorded walkthrough or live tour.
  6. Digital proposals like Pitch by Realtair, ProposalPoint, and Real Time Agent allow you to present a sales proposal to a new seller 100% digitally.

Even with sophisticated online tools, apps and 3D video technology, building relationships without sitting in a client's home and answering their questions is one aspect of selling property that technology can’t fix.

"We've relied on online tools more in the past few months, but these tools will never replace in-the-flesh inspections and face-to-face conversations," adds Keith.

Moving forward

Building relationships is central to buying and selling property. And while online tools are streamlining the sales process, you're building trust by keeping everyone safe.

Remember, it’s the little changes that make a big difference. By adding digital tools, communicating with clients as you’ve always done, and keeping everyone’s safety at the forefront, you’ll weather the storm.

The information contained in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an endorsement or advice from GoDaddy on any subject matter.

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