California recently declared real estate sales and leasing essential businesses, clearing the way for cities and counties to modify local shelter-in-place orders to allow selling homes and land. Anyone needing to convert real estate to cash, relocate or settle estates is now able to market and sell their property – but should not expect rules and procedures to be the same as they were six months ago.
Here are a few things to consider before putting a property on the market.
Government Rules and Procedures May Vary. Cities and counties are establishing their own rules and procedures based on local conditions. Urban areas that are more highly susceptible to virus transmission may have stricter rules than rural areas.
Not All Supporting Businesses Are Open. Not every type of business normally involved in selling homes and land has been deemed essential. For example, staging and lawn care may be considered cosmetic functions and some counties continue to ban them as non-essential.
Markets Are Unsettled. Market conditions are normally defined by current data and trends. With transactions greatly reduced over the past few months property values, marketing times and general demand have become harder to quantify.
Lender Rules May Vary. Mortgage lenders providing purchase loans may be adjusting their qualifying parameters – some to make it easier to qualify and some to make it more difficult. They may also change their loan processing procedures, such as whether or not they hire an appraiser or use automated market analysis to value a property.
Broker Services and Procedures May Vary. Real estate brokers and their agents are operating under restrictions intended to support effective social distancing and interaction with other real estate services that have had to alter their procedures. Common restrictions are:
- No open houses or broker opens (open houses held specifically to market property to other agents who represent buyers)
- No paper flyers may be provided in flyer boxes
- A maximum of two potential buyers may visit a property at one time, accompanied by one agent
- Potential buyers may not visit occupied homes, even if the occupants are currently gone
- Anyone visiting a home for sale must sign a form acknowledging the risks of virus transmission
- Brokers may require potential buyers to confirm they have viewed a video tour prior to being scheduled to view an actual property
- While electronic signatures have been around a long time, they are being used to a much greater extent during the virus crisis, but note that in California electronically notarized documents are still not valid
So, if you need to sell, check with your broker for specific rules that apply to your property. As much as there are investors looking to take advantage of soft markets during these hard times, there are also buyers who are as much in “must buy” situations as there are sellers who “must sell.”
Also keep in mind that rules for businesses are changing rapidly. What we see and hear on the evening news may swing 180 degrees overnight. Constantly checking for updated information can slow the selling process, but is essential to staying compliant with local requirements for selling homes and land.
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