Has COVID-19 Changed the Real Estate Business Forever

Has COVID-19 Changed the Real Estate Business Forever
Posted By Jeffrey Hogue @ Apr 24th 2020 10:35am In: Real Estate

It has been weeks since Pennsylvania's Governor, Tom Wolf, put a shelter-in-place order into effect, thus sticking a fork in all Pennsylvania real estate until further notice. Yes, I am aware there are many other worthy vocations out there suffering the consequences of the same order. With respect, I am a Realtor, and this is a real estate perspective.

Please Note: I, like many of you, have been cooped up these past several weeks, and probably a bit out of balance (understatement), so please forgive any excessive ramblings, just like this one. Of consequence, the present situation has allowed me to revisit literary gems like "The Diary of Anne Frank" and Viktor Franki's "Man's Search for Meaning" with renewed insight and appreciation. I have also had time to reflect on how I practice real estate and the impending changes borne from the pandemic.


Real Estate Business Changes COVID-19 has Wrought

It has always been my impression that many sellers were never all that comfortable with the lax attitude most agents display regarding the showing of their home. Sellers often ask if prospective buyers have been screened or pre-qualified. What they most want to understand is if the stranger, coming to their home, is a serious buyer, or are they just wasting their time and putting their privacy at risk. I believe we can now add "health" to the previous thought.


Sellers and agents realize that prospective buyers need to visit the home to make a purchase decision - Or do they? During the shelter-in-place order, to date, 108 homes went pending sale in the Reading-Berks area. One must assume that the majority of these buyers and their agents obeyed the order and purchased the property without a visit. While I do not believe this is the desired practice or one which will survive past the lockout, I do think it has offered valuable insight into the future of home marketing.


Previewing a Home Without The Visit

Go online and find a home for sale over $10,000,000. You will notice that home is marketed differently than a $100,000 property. The digital presentation of the luxury property makes it very desirable long before a physical preview ever takes place. This practice is effective and by design. The seller is often not interested in casual lookers and covets their privacy.


I believe social distancing will not go away overnight. Adding a health issue to a proposed home preview outweighs a privacy concern. It may call for "Luxury Marketing" style programs of homes of all economic classes to compensate for limited physical exposure.


Consider the following:

-Greater Digital Exposure - Greater emphasis on Photos, Video, Digital Home Plans, Virtual Access.

-Contingent Preview Agreements - The home sale may become contingent on a future visit to the home.

-Home Seller Preparedness - Pre-listing home inspections and warranties to give buyers more peace of mind when purchasing sight unseen.

-Virtual Meetings Everywhere - Meetings between agents, mortgage lenders, title officers, home inspectors, buyers, and sellers. Yes, even the sellers and buyers may have a virtual meeting to answer questions about the property.

-Streamlined Closings - The mortgage, title and settlement processes will become more streamlined than ever before. Like this should not have been done years ago! What happened to the paperless deal!

The role of the real estate agent continues to change. Agents will have an expanded role in information acquisition, marketing, and coordination. It is prudent for home buyers and sellers to consider real estate professionals that are technologically proficient or have access to that knowledge.


They say, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." If that be the case, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be a prime motivator in the way real estate is practiced. Governor Wolf has made it transparent to many that obtaining alcohol is far ahead of my profession on the life scale. The Governor's sentiment will not dampen the will of all the Realtors out there who strive to dutifully serve their clients and keep them safe, COVID, or no COVID! We will stay ahead of "The Curve!"


Knowledge is Power!

Jeffrey C. Hogue

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