Buying a home can be stressful under normal circumstances, let alone trying to navigate the process in the middle of a global pandemic. As provinces across the country grapple with this current reality, understanding the appropriate steps in the buying process requires the help of a professional real estate agent more than ever. However, given that buying and selling is a consistent need for a host of time sensitive reasons, the world of real estate continues on.
In the spirit of lending a helping hand, we reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada – to get their expert advice for buyers, as well as to share what RE/MAX agents are doing to ensure the safety of clients during the current home buying process. According to our panel of RE/MAX Influencers, the following best practices are being offered by RE/MAX agents to help buyers.
Virtual Tours and Deals
A tool that has enabled buyers to view properties from the convenience of their living room is ‘virtual tours;’ allowing the potential buyer to walk through the home, room-by-room, giving them a closer look at the home as if they were inside it. Buyers can also drive by the home and view photos and videos online as an alternative to viewing the home in person, while social distancing is still being considered.
“Ensure to work with a professional, licenced agent who will offer you these advanced options to respect social distancing for both buyers and sellers. Depending on your situation and if you need to buy right away, it makes sense to do virtual tours through Skype, Zoom or Facetime versus attending in person. Especially when in the early stages or just trying to narrow down your top options,” says a RE/MAX veteran agent from Calgary, AB.
RE/MAX REALTORS® also have the capability to proceed virtually with next steps in the buying or selling process, including financing, inspections, and legal needs. Many of these tools have been in place for a number of years but can be increasingly leveraged at this time if the buyer wishes to utilize them.
Take Precautions During Home Showings
While respecting social distancing mandates, some buyers may still be interested in doing in-person viewings. Ensuring that all involved feel safe and comfortable is a crucial part of the process during this time, which is why precautions must be taken ahead of viewing appointments.
While sellers are assisting to ensure the home is prepped for showings, RE/MAX recommends potential buyers who want to further protect themselves wear gloves, a facial mask and possibly coverings on their feet while viewing homes. To protect both the buyer and seller and to avoid unnecessary touching of doors in the home, many agents will pre-open all doors, including cabinets and closets. Utilizing hand sanitizer before and after entering the home and limiting showing attendees to no more than two people at a time are a few ways to make in-person viewings as safe as possible.
“Partnering with an agent who can offer the right safety gear when moving forward with in-person showings will make both the prospective buyer and homeowner feel more at ease. We try to schedule our showings during a time when the homeowner is not in the house to ensure that we’re limiting contact for either side as much as possible. Speaking with the buyer about any additional safety needs they might want integrated into the showing to make them feel more secure is also something we try and practice,” says a REALTOR® of eight years from Victoria, BC.
Do as Much Online Research as Possible
The process of viewing homes in person looks very different to what it once was. Doing online research ahead of the viewing via platforms like REMAX.ca can help determine that the home in question has true potential to be ‘the one.’
“You can limit exposure to in-person showings by doing online research to short-list prospective properties for showings, drive through the neighborhood and drive by the property, if possible, as well as leveraging virtual tours and taking a really good look at the listing before requesting a personal viewing. Limit any touching during showings, take your own vehicle, and of course, keep your distance,” says a ten-year veteran agent from Regina, SK.
Buying may be more challenging right now, but that does not mean it’s impossible. As a Nanaimo, BC REALTOR® has noted. “If you are able to buy, certain things may work in your favour. Interest rates are at record lows, so you may be able to buy the home of your dreams!”
Arming yourself with an agent who has your safety in mind and the tools necessary to adapt to the current climate is an optimal way to move forward in the buying process as effectively and efficiently as possible.