The 2020 buying and selling spring market started out very strong across the board, especially down here in Florida. Multiple offers were quite common and additional inventory was getting ready to hit the market. Then the coronavirus reared its ugly head, creating a situation in America that is completely unprecedented – never before has our economy been threatened to come to a standstill due to a virus outside anyone’s control. Within a matter of weeks things have changed dramatically, resulting in a stay at home order except for essential businesses. Real estate was deemed an essential business – people still need to buy and sell, and we as REALTORS® are still fortunate enough to still be able to assist with that. Although transactions have slowed down, our agents here at Dalton Wade are still out there helping people buy and sell, we are just doing things a little differently these days. Here we will give you advice on ways to conduct your business safely and provide you some useful information to help you during these times.
Safety is #1
Here at Dalton Wade, safety is our top priority for not only our clients but our valuable agents as well. You should always go to showings, listing appointments or meetings with personal protective gear such as face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. If your customers are with you, you can offer these items to them as well if you have extra, or request they bring along their own. Always stand at least 6 feet apart from your customers to minimize contamination. Do not worry about seeming too cautious – it is always best to be overly cautious then not enough. You will seem like you have your customer’s best interest at heart and your customer will thank you for it.
If you are the buyer’s agent, we recommend you try doing a virtual showing for your customers if possible. A virtual showing is where you would go to the property alone and take video of the home to send to your customer, or perhaps use tools like facetime to conduct a live tour in real time. This reduces both buyer and seller risk of contamination. If you can not do a virtual showing, bring as few buyers as possible to the showing, only the ones that will be signing any offers (do not bring extended family members, friends, etc). You can request that the listing agent or sellers leave all lights on and doors open for the showing so that your buyers do not have to touch light switches or door knobs, minimizing risk for both buyer and seller.
If you are the listing agent, we do not encourage holding any open houses at this time since open houses elicit crowds. Florida MLSs’ have temporarily disabled the ability to advertise open houses in the MLS in an effort to minimize this. In your realtor remarks on your listing, you can ease buyer fears by letting them know what you and your sellers are doing to help minimize risk to buyers, etc so the agent can share that with their customer. Before showings, request that only the buyer agent attend if possible or that they bring as few buyers through as possible. You should also request that your seller leave lights on and doors open for the buyers so that the buyers do not have to touch anything in the home to view a room better or get from one room to the next. If your seller is nervous about their home being on the market at this time, try to encourage going TOM (temporarily off market) for a certain time frame (perhaps a month to start) instead of cancelling the listing altogether.
Even though deals are still getting under contract and closing, there has been a spike in cancellations of contracts and removal of listings from the market so some agents have seen some what of a slow down in their business. If you find that you need help during these times, you do have some options.
A $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package was passed with resources for unemployment compensation and emergency loans for small businesses – click here for further information and to see if you could qualify. Another option is the PPP Loan (Paycheck Protection Program) that launched and committed $250 billion in assistance. NAR recommends that all Florida Realtors who qualify apply as soon as possible because funding may be depleted fast. For more information and to see if you qualify and how to apply – check out these helpful articles here and here.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also organized a useful Small Business Checklist/Guide that can help Realtors determine if they are eligible for the loans and what to do to prepare. See this Florida Realtors article for further information on additional available financial relief (just scroll down to the “Financial Assistance, Loans & Federal Stimulus Package” Section).
Dalton Wade is here for you to answer any questions you might have at any time, especially during this pandemic. We are still happy to have virtual meetings with any agents or potential agents in the mean time. We can not wait for the day that we can have an in person meeting again with agents for lunch or even just a coffee. Above all, please stay safe out there – that will always be most important.