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As we move beyond the Shelter In Place order and into new phases of our lives with COVID-19, there are many changes in the real estate industry.  Now more than ever we need the services of experienced real estate professionals to successfully navigate a real estate transaction. Here are some of our thoughts about many of the common questions we hear.

WHAT DO I DO IF I WANT TO BUY A HOME?

One of the first steps in buying a home is to get pre-approval from an experienced lender.  Currently, qualified borrowers are receiving excellent interest rates for purchases and refi’s. We highly recommend calling your lender today for contacting us if you need a recommendation for a good lender. Note that many banks and lenders have tightened up their underwriting guidelines so do make sure all of your paperwork is in order.

HOW DO I SEE HOMES FOR SALE?
This is where things have significantly changed. Currently the traditional Weekend Open House has become a thing of the past. Today buyers are going online to view properties using virtual tours, 3-dimensional tours and/or a virtual open houses as their initial viewing of the homes they like. Prior to seeing a home in person, all buyers are required to read and sign the Coronavirus Property Entry and Advisory Declaration (PEAD) form prior to entering the property in person.  This form spells out the risks and requirements of going to see a property in person.  This disclosure spells out the need to wear proper personal protective items such as face masks and gloves, and instructs people viewing the property to limit what they touch while viewing the home.

When you arrive to see a home, you will be met by your agent, and perhaps the listing agent. The seller must leave the property during all showings.  A maximum of three people at any given time can be in the house – which includes the real estate agent. Only the buyer(s) may enter the property. Children, extended family, and friends may not tour the home.

HOW DO I MAKE AN OFFER?
Writing and presenting of an offer on a home you want to purchase is largely unchanged.  Although the buyers agent will not have an opportunity to present offers in person, everything else remains mostly the same.  Contingencies, inspections and close of escrow are still essential elements of the contract and will remain items that you and your agent will discuss in detail when writing your offer. Scheduling time to revisit the home, perform inspections, and sign closing documents are all items that your agent will coordinate with you during the escrow period.  For the most part we are seeing escrow periods of between 21 and 30 days which is also very similar to what it was before the Coronavirus.

WHAT IF I WANT TO SELL MY HOUSE?
Of course, if you are going to be selling a vacant home, the process is relatively straightforward with minimal risk to the sellers. If the home is occupied, the seller(s) must understand the risks and be comfortable with allowing people into their home.  Of course, the people coming to see the home will be wearing face masks and proper PPE, but these measures do not necessarily eliminate all risk. It is also still necessary to get pre-sale inspections and properly prepare the home for market which may entail painting, replacing carpet, making various repairs, and allowing access for staging, photography, videography and virtual tours; and finally allowing agents and buyers to view the house once it is on the market.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO MARKET MY HOME?
Now more than ever high quality virtual marketing is the key to successfully listing, marketing and selling a home. Since we began building our virtual marketing infrastructure years and years ago, we have the experience and expertise needed to get the job done and get our sellers the highest possible price. We leverage all of the latest technology offering custom and creative online properly tours and virtual tours. We successfully market and sell homes using all available technology including high quality photography and video in conjunction with various social media platforms. Because of our extensive experience with virtual marketing, we have built a large audience of potential buyers over the years. This affords our clients the best possible exposure and the ability to focus on a large audience of potential buyers in their specific market area.

CAN I BE PRESENT WHEN MY HOUSE IS BEING SHOWN?
If the home is not vacant, the homeowner is required to leave the premises during all showings. During showings, the homeowners are not allowed to be in the home or anywhere on the property. We will be there to provide access to all agents and their clients. The agents will be required to provide signed PEAD forms to us prior to arriving at their scheduled showing time. We will make sure the home is properly wiped down and disinfected prior to and after all showings, inspections, or whenever anyone goes into your home.

HAS THE ESCROW PROCESS CHANGED?
Once your home is in contract (pending), we will schedule times for the appraisal, additional inspections and buyer visits. We will be present at all of these appointments to ensure that proper care is given to following all required safety and health protocols. When it comes time to sign off, you will schedule time with the title company and arrange the proper method to have you sign and notarize all necessary documents. Finally, when you move out, it is important to make sure that the home is cleaned prior to transferring ownership to the buyer.

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE CURRENT MARKET?

Since the easing of the Shelter In Place order, the market in Silicon Valley has been a very active across all price ranges. The SIP seems to have motivated many buyers and sellers to make changes in their living situations. The demand for housing is strong and inventory remains extremely low. Buyers are enjoying improved buying power due to low interest rates and, as a result, well priced homes selling quickly, often at or above the list price and often with multiple offers.

If you or anyone you know is thinking about selling our buying a home this summer, please give us a call to discuss the details of your situation, your concerns, and your needs during this time. We look forward to catching up with you!

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Brian & Dan | Sereno Group

Brian & Dan | Sereno Group