Among the multitude of changes we experienced in 2020, the way buyers search for homes changed drastically. Some of these changes may stay for years to come. Here’s how home sellers can prepare to face these changes.
For a long time, price, condition, location, and financing were the significant drivers for homebuyers. In response to COVID, however, interior amenities, including home offices, extra space, workout rooms, and even Zoom studios, have moved from the wants to the needs list for today’s buyers. Also, the way homes are located, toured, and purchased now relies heavily on technology.
1. Set Emotions Aside
Most people know how stressful it is to buy a house, but not many discuss how emotional the process of selling a home can be. While you probably made very special memories in the home, you must do your best to view the sale as the business transaction it is. Even in Contra Costa County’s hot sellers’ market, and even if you plan to sell ‘as is,’ you must still be prepared to accommodate buyers’ expectations that detailed information concerning the home, like pre-sale inspections, will be provided upfront.
2. Be Strategic
The speed of your sale will depend on how you prepare for it. A Realtor can help guide you through the work to understand how you’ll prepare your home to sell and how to price the home competitively. The completion of all seller disclosures has long been required, while pre-sale inspections were recommended. Now, providing recent inspection reports and documentation of completed repairs is imperative to aid in a quick sale.
Providing prospective buyers with recent inspection reports in a disclosure package can reduce their anxiety levels and aid in the negotiation of shorter inspection periods. Pre-sale inspections benefit both buyer and seller, as they decrease the likelihood of surprises derailing the sale. Also, it allows you the opportunity to solicit bids to address any critical issues, rather than paying for repairs last-minute or making painful price concessions just to close on time.
3. Essential Staging
Because home tours are currently restricted, the way your home appears online is more crucial than ever. Even light staging can maximize a home’s useful features and create desirable areas — like transforming a small bedroom into a functional office. Help buyers to imagine themselves in the space without actually being in the space.
4. 2020 Curb Appeal
Open houses are not currently allowed in Contra Costa County. Even when they are permitted again, many buyers may continue to do their initial house-hunting online. So, fuzzy iPhone photos that show the listing agent’s reflection in the bathroom mirror will get your home kicked to the bottom of the pile. Today’s buyers, particularly during the pandemic when property showings are rare, expect professional photos at a minimum. A meaningful virtual tour allows them to visit the old Sunday Open House from the comfort of their living room at a time that’s convenient for them.
5. Move Out to Market
A fundamental rule of marketing is to make it easy for people to do what you want them to do. So, when selling a home, it makes sense to make it easy for prospective buyers to see it online and in person.
If a serious buyer does request to see your home, you should plan to leave the house as far in advance as you can. Completely vacating the property before going on the market allows buyers more flexibility to view your home and reduces the virus’s opportunity to be spread. However, not everyone will be able to vacate their home entirely during the sales process, so in this case, plan to have professional cleaners on call to do regular sanitization.
Your Realtor should be familiar with the Best Practices Guidelines and Prevention Plan for Showings offered by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. These guidelines are consistent with Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home order issued March 19, 2020, and they incorporate the directives of the California Departments of Public Health and Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA) “COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Real Estate Transactions”. Following these guidelines protects your household and helps sell the property by demonstrating to buyers that you understand the importance of their protection.
7. Be Flexible
Purchase agreements now often include addenda addressing how COVID may affect contingency periods, appraisals, loan approvals, and even the terms of the contract itself. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of all terms of the contract and how each potential outcome might affect you. With all situations during this trying time, hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Doing so will make any bumps in the road a little more tolerable.
The Bottom Line
Our “new” world continues to see high demand for properties as prospective buyers alter the ways and places they want to live. While it may take some time to adjust, focusing on facts and having patience will make for a successful sale. Fortunately, Realtors have always guided their clients through stressful times – it’s what we’re here for! If you’re considering selling, let’s talk so that we can come up with a strategy to sell your home fast and for top dollar safely.