Touring a home is different now than it was up until early March 2020. Real estate in Connecticut never completely shut down, and agents quickly found common ground on how to make showings as safe as possible for sellers, buyers, and agents.
The most important measure was to limit showings to only buyers who were actually serious about purchasing a home. Many consider touring homes to be a form of entertainment. Some like to see the architecture. Others are more interested in decorating choices. A small subset of people like to look at homes to keep tabs on a market so when they are ready to move in the distant future they know the market better.
In pre-pandemic times we didn’t worry too much about these showings. Ideally these “buyers” would tour during public open houses so they did not inconvenience the seller. But if they convinced an agent to give them a private tour it was very difficult for the listing agent to fully understand their motivation in advance.
Serious buyers need to do their due diligence before they are let into a home. They need to review the listing in detail to make sure there are no obvious deal-breakers. We’re providing video walkthrough tours of our listings to allow potential buyers to take a tour of the property from the comfort of their own home. People should be able to get a really good sense of a home between the video, the photos, the floor plan, description, the disclosures, and all the details in the MLS listing.
The goal with insisting on buyer due diligence is to further reduce unnecessary visits. For example, if a buyer really wants to have a kitchen that is open to the family room, then multiple of the marketing pieces that we provide will allow them to determine if the layout works for them. We don’t want to ask the sellers to allow a showing, and the agent and buyers to enter the home, if the reaction to the property is going to be immediate and negative.
Virtual showings have moved from the fringe to mainstream. The idea of touring a home remotely, with the agent in the property and the buyer elsewhere used to be rare. Every now and then a buyer would walk through a home talking with someone on Facetime, but it didn’t happen often. Zoom tours (or Facetime or Meet) are now common. We have coordinated them regularly since the public health guidelines changed.
The people actually entering the home should be limited to decision-makers. Buyers regularly bring people to showings who are not part of the purchase process. Family and friends are the most common tag-a-longs. This was fine pre-pandemic, but at this point they create an unnecessary risk to the seller and the agents.
Everyone who enters the home should wear masks and gloves, and they should remove their shoes. This is the part you knew was coming. Part of mindfully interacting with a property is to try to keep our germs to ourselves. At some point we will be allowed to take off the gear again, but that feels like a long ways away right now. And please wear the mask as it is intended rather than just using it as a fashion accessory.
Visitors should minimize the number of things they touch in the home. Sellers should have turned all the lights on, and cracked all the doors. We’re never going to get to zero-touch showings, but there is no need to walk around the home grabbing everything.
Despite the push to reopen the country, medical professionals are recommending that we all take precautions in public for the foreseeable future. At the very least, we need to be mindful while interacting with other people and new spaces.
You can go about your real estate business, but be aware of how you are impacting others.