How to Buy or Sell a House during the COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

Dennis Roberts
Monday, April 6, 2020
The realities of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 have complicated many things, including the way we buy and sell real estate. Now, more than ever, social distancing and good hygiene practice are of utmost importance. But  questions arise:

How can I buy or sell a house during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Great question, and also one that we don’t take lightly. Here are a few more great questions: Is real estate considered an essential business? Should we as a society even be buying or selling real estate at this time? Why would anyone want to move at this time?

Here are our thoughts on the matter.

Yes, real estate is essential. If we remember back to our grade 2 curriculum when our teachers were talking about basic needs, we are trained from an early age on what these are. “Food, Water and Shelter!” Shelter- AKA housing, AKA buying, selling and leasing of residential property. For a complete list of essential services click here. (hyper link to this site https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces

People many times HAVE TO MOVE. Job relocations, education, leases expiring, and properties which have already been sold to name a few. This means that although it may seem extremely inconvenient to buy or sell a house at this time, it is still happening and will continue to do so. The question should really be stated as, “How can I buy or sell a house safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic?”

As an industry, we need to adapt quickly. REALTORS are rising to the occasion for the betterment of their clients. To preface the following, we can accommodate a completely virtual home buying experience. That’s right- you can literally shop for, and purchase real estate without having to step foot into your new home. Here is what we are doing to facilitate transactions these days.

Virtual Meetings with You:
You may have heard of a Buyer Consultation, or a Listing Appointment. These are usually the first steps in discussing agency relationships, the process, understanding potential fees and covering off much more. This is a great opportunity to meet and vet your Realtor, discuss your needs and goals and get the process started.

Virtual Showings:
As a buyer, once we have started the process, we will have listings that match your criteria emailed to you. From here, we will narrow down your top picks, and we can help facilitate virtual showings, so you can enjoy a tour of a home from the safety and comfort of your living room. On our listings, we use technology, virtual and video tours including iGuide to include Floor Plans– essentially virtual reality for our listings! Check out an awesome example here: (hyper link  https://www.therobertsteam.ca/mylistings/justlisted/1/1569930052)

But I still want to see the house?!

Okay, we get it. This is where we have to really ramp things up, but it's doable. We have checklists for buyers, checklists for sellers, protocols in place in compliance with Ontario Health Services and the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to make sure that COVID-19 exposures are absolutely minimized. This includes ensuring that the seller has all lights on, and interior doors open, as well as hand sanitizer at the door. This way a Buyer and their agent, (while social distancing of course) can enter your home, have a brief tour without touching anything, and exit the property.

Electronic Signing for Contracts and Offers
This isn’t a new technology, but it has never been embraced more than it is now! Here we can prepare and execute contracts, and send them electronically to initiate the negotiation process.

What about the Property Inspection?
Home inspections have come a long way.  Now inspectors are held to a very high standard and have some sophisticated technologies that will provide the buyer with an extremely detailed and comprehensive inspection report. Everything from thermal imaging, moisture detection, in some cases fibre-optic cameras, sewer scopes, aerial drone inspections and much more! There really is no need for anyone except for the home inspector to be present during an inspection. Licensed Inspectors must also comply with the same checklist as a buyer or seller, and recently the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) published a course for COVID-19 Safety Guidelines.

But what about signing at the Lawyer?
I’m so glad you asked. You’re right, unless the government changes the laws, this is the one step where you technically need to be in person for the home buying or selling process, but our friends at Strike and Phillips LLP here in Bowmanville have risen to the challenge once again. Not only are these folks some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and truly understand what Customer Service means, but they are also ensuring a safe experience before every client meeting, but here are some of the other things they do. (hyper link http://www.strikephillips.ca/ ) 

Getting the Keys
The final step of course is getting, (or handing over) the keys to your property. We are using our lockboxes to allow our Buyers to get the key on closing day without having to walk into an office.  Lockboxes will be picked up after closing and disinfected for next use.

For any additional questions or comments, feel free to Contact Us and we will be happy to have a virtual coffee to discuss how we can make your move a reality in a safe, socially distanced way.