Do Floridians outside the real estate industry know that real estate is an essential service – or that remote notaries, virtual tours and tech keep it completely operational? Since we are all staying at home to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, how are people buying and selling houses? – Even with stay-at-home orders in place, there are still plenty of people buying and selling their homes, all while complying with the rules and safety protocols.
We are marketing homes with video tours, and buyers are doing live video walk-through, getting the grand tour from sellers while flattening the curve. I sold this condo last week and today we finalized inspections. The buyer saw the property through a video I made with my iPhone and only then he decided to see it in person. At showing everyone had to wear masks and gloves and I waited outside while they looked at the unit. We will not see each other at closing, as everything will be done electronically. It's the new way of selling real estate, and it's okay. We will be back to normal one day, but until then we need to follow this new protocol and take all the precautions necessary to protect ourselves and our clients.
Purchase contracts have been signed electronically for several years. Several states, including Florida, recently passed laws allowing online notarization, so closings are still occurring.
Appraisers now have homeowners take pictures with location-tracking apps to make sure the photos are from the correct house.
Of course, we are living in unique times, so special precautions should be taken. Contracts should allow additional time to make sure that inspections can occur and loans get approved.
With the extended times, the sellers should be able to take back-up offers to protect themselves in case the first buyer falls through. If you live in a condominium, you should make sure that your board is conducting interviews, for which many are using video conference software.
Excellent communication is always essential, but right now, it is crucial. One of the byproducts of our current crisis is that many tasks take longer and more complicated to complete. It helps if everyone is on the same page and stays that way throughout the transaction.
If a problem pops up, and at least one is likely to, it is much easier to solve if everyone is informed early and works together to get past it.
Contributions: Gary M. Singer, Florida real estate attorney. © 2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.