(This in an update to my post dated 22 April 20)
For starters: If you need to sell or buy a home now – because you are relocating for a job, in need of more/less space, or facing new financial circumstances that require a move – you shouldn't let the coronavirus stop you.
I closed two transactions in the last seven days, and during both cases we – my clients and I – never felt unsafe or that we running a risky gamble.
So I would say by being cautious, eliminating unnecessary any risks and following the right guidelines, it is safe to sell or buy a home even amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Classified as “essential business” by the Dept. of Homeland Security, real estate never stopped during the lock-down. A least in Florida, real estate brokers and agents were allowed to conduct business. But all new transactions - listings for sellers, searches for buyers, property showings and purchases - had to be electronic, with no meetings in person. While this was truly uncharted territory for buyers, sellers and Realtors alike, the last two or three months showed how it can work, and rather well actually.
Even with most restrictions lifted, many transaction participants chose to leave protective measures in place out of precaution; that includes my office as well.
Step by step:
Listing a property is not an issue, since all trades are available: photographers, building inspectors, appraisers and title companies are on board. If sellers do not feel comfortable meeting in person with a Realtor to discuss a listing, the meeting can be conducted online through video--calls.
For showing properties, personal meetings and visits are allowed again, but a Realtor can also conduct a video-showing from the site if one party feels uncomfortable or is in a high-risk group.
Open houses are not happening right now, and as a requirement for showings, all buyers are asked to narrow online their list of possible homes as much as possible, to provide a Covid-19 risk questionnaire as well as a pre-qualification letter before a showing, and to follow showing guidelines (masks, gloves etc).
Appraisals and building inspections are being conducted, which are vital for loan approvals – and in my experience of 28 years, even in a cash purchase, buyers should always have an inspection conducted.
Title companies are closing deals; many of them are conducted electronically, but some in a personal meeting, which I personally do not recommend.
And finally, court houses and tax appraiser offices are working electronically, so deed changes can be properly recorded.
Thus, the workflow of a Florida real estate purchase or sale is intact and functioning.
Do you have any questions?
If so please give me a quick call at 954 834 3088, email me, or let's set up an online meeting via Jitsi (no extra software needed), Skype, Signal or Google.
Tobias Kaiser is an independent real estate consultant and licensed Realtor in Florida since 1990. He specializes in modern architecture and net leased investments.