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That new listing looks perfect! But will COVID-19 prevent you from seeing it?

On March 19, California Governor Newsom and the State Public Health Officer issued Executive Order N-33-20 requiring all Californians to stay home except as needed to maintain continuity of operations in essential service sectors.

Real estate is not classified as an essential service at this time, and REALTORS® have been advised by The California Association of Realtors (CAR) to cease in-person marketing and sales activities, including showings, listing appointments, open houses and property inspections. CAR points out that clients and other consumers are also subject to these orders and therefore should not be visiting properties or conducting other business in person.

What does that mean to you as a buyer or seller?

Termination of Public Open Houses Until Further Notice

In response to the Governor’s Executive Order, most brokerages have instructed their agents to cancel any scheduled open houses and to refrain from scheduling future events until further notice.

Prepare to Answer COVID-19 Health and Safety Questions

Our brokerage now has a checklist of questions to those we may come in personal contact with during the course of business. Other brokerages may have their own version of protective questioning, but don’t be surprised if you are asked questions similar to those below should you request a showing.

  • Have you recently traveled to an area with known local spread of COVID-19?

  • Have you come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who has a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the past 14 days?

  • Do you have a fever (greater than 100.4 F or 38.0 C) OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing?

Prepare to Show Verification of Purchase Qualification

In order to minimize coronavirus infection risk, many brokerages are urging agents to verify a potential buyer’s ability to purchase a property prior to showing it. Having verification of ability to buy is nothing new, but was not typically required prior to a showing.

Your Showing Request May Be Declined

Sellers are grappling to adapt to the new climate, wanting to keep themselves, their families and the public safe despite their desire to sell. Some are opting to temporarily remove their properties from market. Others are moving forward using guidelines suggested by their real estate advisor. Still others are entertaining on-sight showings only to buyers who meet the brokerage's and/or the sellers requirements.

Really LOVE the Home? You May Be Requested to Write an Offer Sight Unseen.

This may sound a bit scary, however offers can be crafted to allow the buyer an out once they have personally visited the property should they find it is not as attractive in person as it appeared online. Don’t let this requirement deter you if you are ready to buy and the property has great potential! If it looks perfect online and it's attractiveness is further supported by comps and other information your real estate agent is able to provide, go for it.

As you can imagine, the above modifications necessitate a shift from our traditional “hands on” purchase experience to a virtual marketing/shopping experiences, at least for the time being. Virtual home shopping is nothing new, of course. Most real estate shopping experiences begin online by perusing available listings on MLS feeds. The question is, will buyers feel confident writing offers on properties they have not personally visited and explored first?

Stay healthy and safe, and as always, please know your best interest is my top priority.

Tamara Z

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