The Chicagoland area has been under a ‘stay-at-home’ order for over a week now, but as an essential business, Dream Town brokers have been continuing to find creative and safe ways to conduct business for their clients. While the executive order does permit brokers to engage in real estate showings, there are some additional safety measures that have been put in place during this unprecedented time.
- Clients and brokers must maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another during showings.
- Individuals present should bring hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to all showings.
- To limit the number of individuals, sellers should not be present, and listing brokers may opt to use a lock box to grant access to buyers and their brokers. Individuals present on showings should be limited to the buyer’s broker and the primary decision maker for the buyers.
- Sellers should turn on all lights and open doors to any rooms/closets prior to the showing.
- Brokers and buyers are encouraged to drive separately to and from showings.
- Individuals with any sign of symptoms should stay home.
While in-person showings and open houses are not restricted by law, the Chicago Association of Realtors strongly urges brokers to find alternative ways to show properties during this time. Dream Town brokers have been leveraging property videos, 3D virtual tours (Matterport), video conferencing software, and even virtual open houses to safely show their listings to prospective buyers.
Dream Town broker Aaron Masliansky is now conducting his business almost exclusively through video conferencing and lockboxes. This past week, he conducted a final walk-through with an out-of-state buyer and the listing agent via a 3-way Zoom call. “The listing agent had the keys to the property and walked my client and I through the home on a video call, which I recorded,” Aaron said. “After seeing the property at our virtual final walk-through, the listing agent mailed my buyer the keys so we could proceed with closing virtually.”
We have even seen our brokers hosting virtual open houses, providing members of the public with an opportunity to tour the home during a pre-specified time, just like a traditional open house. “I am able to bring the house to our potential buyer, even those who may not have looked at the house initially, while keeping everyone safe,” says Dream Town broker Abby Powell. “Potential buyers can literally tour the home while in their robe and slippers, in the comfort of their own home.” Abby has been hosting her virtual open houses via Facebook Live, showcasing a pre-recorded on-screen walk-through and answering questions in real-time from her viewing audience. Abby has also relied on Dream Town’s Matterport program to create 3D walk-throughs that buyers can access at any time.
Aaron has been utilizing Matterport for his own listings, too. But what about his buyer clients that want to tour properties listed by other brokerages? “I’ve been asking listing brokers for videos or virtual walkthroughs to share with my buyer clients,” he says. “During this time, everyone is working together to come up with creative solutions – not just other real estate brokers, but industry partners like attorneys, lenders, and title companies, too.”
With so much technology at our disposal, the stay-at-home order isn’t stopping sellers from listing their homes. Dream Town broker Nicole Hajdu still has many active listings and listings under contract. She even just listed her own home for sale, and spent the first week of the stay-at home order cleaning, staging, and photographing her house… at a distance. “The stagers came in with booties and gloves, and were out of my house within an hour. The photographers came in at a different time, wearing gloves and masks,” she says. “We all stayed 6 feet away from each other at all times as we moved through the home.”
However, Nicole understands that listing a home during the stay at home order is not the right decision for everyone. She says she is taking it day by day, and client by client. “For seller clients, this is a great time to clean and prep their homes to go on the market. For buyers, it’s a great time to do as much preliminary research as possible to narrow down their areas of interest and what they are looking for in a home,” she says. “Sometimes we need to take a few steps back to move forward in a better, more favorable direction.”
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home during the stay at home order, talk to your broker about the timeline that makes the most sense for you. Ultimately, health and safety is the number one priority.