Selling a Home During a Lockdown

The current spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the efforts to contain it have impacted almost all aspects of daily life – and real estate transactions are no different. Yet, despite current circumstances, real estate agents are still seeing sellers and buyers move forward with their plans to buy and sell homes.

“People may be doing life differently, but, especially after the announcement to lower interest rates by a full 1%, the demand to buy, sell, and rent a home does still exist,” says Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.

Yet, even with willing sellers and buyers, the current lockdown bans non-essential interactions with clients which means that selling a home will look different than in years past. “By leveraging technology, there are still ways for real estate agents to interact with listing clients and potential buyers,” says Goslett.

To start, many home tours will become virtual. But, as technology has progressed, this is not entirely something new and has already been used as a powerful tool in marketing a home for some time now.

“However, this does not have to take the shape of an expensive virtual tour video, professionally shot with high-end equipment. Agents can brief homeowners on how to conduct a video call over WhatsApp so that the buyers can ask questions about the property as the homeowner walks through the home,” says Goslett.

For those who would rather wait until this crisis passes before listing their home, Goslett explains that there are things that can be done while we’re being asked to stay home. “If you can get your hands on some hardware supplies, start doing touch-ups around the house, like painting over scuff marks or fixing broken door hinges. You could also begin packing your personal belongings into boxes to be stored in your garage or some other unused space. Spending time getting your outdoor area cleaned up and landscaping prepared will also prove useful. That way, as soon as we return to a more normalised market, you are ready to show your home.”

If you do decide to go ahead with a sale, be prepared that when it comes to COVID-19 and real estate, no one can accurately predict what the future holds. Delays might occur around the transfer & registration process, especially when the Deeds Offices shutdown. Buyers will have to sign the OTP with a suspensive condition that stipulates that the transfer will only go ahead once it has passed a home inspection.

“The COVID-19 emergency is constantly evolving. The best thing sellers can do over this time is to partner with a real estate professional who has the backing of a well-established brand with a large network of referral business to tap into, as prospecting new buyers will be tricky over this time. Sellers will also need to be realistic when setting their asking price and will have to realise that it may take longer than usual to sell within these unprecedented circumstances. Most importantly, sellers should partner with a responsible real estate professional who can keep them informed and implement the necessary precautions as the situation changes,” Goslett concludes.