Well, that is one headline I never thought I'd write.
To say that a lot has changed in the world over these last couple of months would be an understatement. We are all confined to our homes, are wearing masks in public and are standing in line to get into grocery stores. What seemed to be tremendously rude at first, not shaking hands upon greeting people is now the norm. How quickly we all adapt. I like to think that this is evidence of how resilient the human race is in times of adversity.
On the real estate front, it's been a mixed bag. Many sellers and buyers have opted to put their housing plans on hold until conditions improve. But homes are still selling in Boston and its suburbs, even in the midst of COVID-19. The Governor has declared that real estate agents and their brokerages are essential and may continue operating as long as they adhere to CDC guidelines. And there are certainly people out there who, due to their unique personal circumstances, need (or want) to move now. Fortunately for them, we have a variety of technology solutions to showcase and sell homes while being safe and respecting social distancing guidelines:
Virtual Open Houses -- For my listings, I've been hosting virtual open houses. Using Zoom, I am able to set up a specific time where I can be in my client's home and invite interested parties to log into the "open house." I can then give them a tour of the entire property and answer any questions they may have. Listing sheets, floor plans and other documents that one may pick up at a regular open house can be shared within the Zoom platform or emailed individually to attendees.
Video -- I just rented a condo in South Boston "site-unseen" -- meaning that the tenants never actually came to see the unit in person. This was really important to the current tenants who were still living there and who were justifiably concerned about people coming in and out of the unit to view it. By taking a series of videos and posting them on YouTube through a private link, interested people were able to get a very accurate depiction of what the unit looked like in a way that photos just can't accomplish. We all know that photos will sometimes make a place look nicer than it actually is due to Photoshop, special lighting and the specific lenses that photographers use. But, there's really no disguising things in video. The new tenants felt comfortable enough after viewing the video to submit an application for the unit. We signed the lease yesterday!
FaceTime -- Similar to Zoom, I can give people a tour of my client's home using FaceTime on my phone. The difference is that instead of logging into a group meeting in Zoom, I can give tours to just 1 or 2 people at a time. This is slightly more intimate, as the people will have my undivided attention and I can cater the tour specifically to what they'd like to see or particular questions they have.
Virtual -- or Actual -- Staging -- I've spoken about virtual staging before. It's a fantastic tool we can utilize to digitally add furniture and decor to a vacant space, making the photographs much more visually interesting and compelling than they would be if the rooms were empty. While I believe that staging a home with real furniture is the preferred solution in most cases, there is no denying that virtual staging is cost-effective and efficient. And, during this time when we are all trying to socially distance from one another, not having an actual staging and moving crew come into the home may be the safer option. I recommend you discuss both options with your REALTOR® to determine what is best for your specific house.
3D "Matterport" Tours -- Matterport is the end-all and be-all of virtual tours. Using a three-dimensional camera system, Matterport can be used to create a fully-immersive, realistic experience that replicates what a prospective buyer or tenant would see if they were actually walking through the home. Check out these Matterport tours I've done for some of my past listings like 66 Tuttle in Dorchester or 125 B St. in South Boston -- just click on 3D View at the top of the page.
In-Person Showings -- Okay, this has nothing to do with technology. Even with all of the aforementioned tools, there are still people who understandably want to visit a home before they purchase or rent it. We get that. As such, we are taking precautions for all face-to-face meetings. For starters, we are not doing public open houses so that we can avoid too many people congregating together. Private showings are being arranged, with adequate time in between each showing so that we can wipe down any doors or other surfaces that may have been touched. Lysol, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, soap and gloves are all part of our arsenal. Additionally, all attendees are sent a document before each showing which outlines the ground rules before they enter the home. We all need to take responsibility for doing our part to help reduce COVID-19's spread. If you'd like to see this list, or have any questions about how to go about selling or buying during this unsettling time, just reach out to me.
Only time will tell regarding the true impact that COVID-19 will have on our lives and the world. In the meantime, may you and your loved ones stay safe and may we all see one another in person very soon. I raise a virtual toast to your health!
Author: Donna Charpentier
© 2020 DONNA CHARPENTIER. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Our latest listings & sales, neighborhood happenings & real estate-related musings. We certainly try to keep this page as up-to-date as we can, but, hey, we're busy selling homes!