From Zillow and Staff Reports
NOTE: Orange County Government Florida set a mandatory “Stay At Home” Executive Order which allowed for essential businesses to continue, which includes financial institutions and real estate professionals, leasing offices, insurance contractors and property appraiser services. In addition, businesses that provide support necessary to perform essential real estate service
With this in mind, keeping you informed on how to handle buying, selling, renting — or just nesting at home — is something Zillow is striving to do. As a resource for homeowners and home seekers, they have created a place with timely information to help you make sense of things. It is also a place to find inspiration for your life at home — whether that’s a DIY project, starting a garden or just dreaming about what your future home could be.
Here are a few key questions answered for buyers and sellers during COVID-19:
Am I missing out if I don’t buy now?
The best time to buy depends on your personal circumstances.Trying to time the market for the best deal is something even professional investors aren’t very good at.
According to Zillow economists, the current environment poses both opportunities and challenges. The opportunities are not as obvious as the challenges, but they’re out there:
- Mortgage interest rates are very low, which has the potential to significantly boost your buying power.
- At this exact moment, with many people pulling back and staying home, there could be less competition for the still-limited pool of homes for sale.
- Sellers may be more flexible on pricing and/or timing in order to close a sale, especially if letting their home stay on the market will cost them or delay their own plans.
- If demand stays strong and the crisis passes relatively quickly — both big “ifs” at this moment — then we can probably expect price growth to accelerate like it was earlier this year. If that’s the case, it might be a good time for some buyers in some markets to get ahead of any growth in home prices.
Still, the challenges are daunting:
- Inventory is already low, and it’s unlikely that many would-be sellers will list their homes right now. That could make it harder for you to find the right home.
- Mortgage interest rates are low but volatile — and lenders are working through a flood of refinance applications. For would-be buyers who secured financing in early March, this may not be as big an issue. It’ll be a lot tougher if you have not yet started the mortgage process.
- It also may be difficult (or impossible) to complete the sale on time if some of the connected businesses, such as appraisals, inspections and title services, are temporarily closed due to public health orders.
- If the crisis persists and social-distancing and other behaviors last through the bulk of the year, home prices may fall somewhat in response to the lack of demand from buyers. It could make sense for some buyers to wait to see if the home they’re eyeing today is available at a lower price tomorrow.
If you have the time and willingness to face the current challenges, now could present some interesting opportunities. But you should have a plan to ensure you can back off and/or re-evaluate as the situation unfolds. If you’re risk-averse or don’t feel ready, you’re likely to be more comfortable waiting until the situation is more clear.
For the most up-to-date housing market analysis, data and commentary on how the market is responding to this situation, visit Zillow Research.
For more information to help you make smart choices and think through your next steps, such as can I tour a house without leaving my own? what can I do now to be ready to buy? and more check out this buying guide.
Can I still sell my house while people are responding to the coronavirus?
People across the country are practicing social distancing, or, in some cities and states, following public health orders to stay at home. That means buyers are not in a position to walk through a home with their agent, and agents may not be in a position to show homes.
Agents have gotten creative in adopting tools and technology that allow prospective buyers to take 3D tours of a home or take a video tour with their agent if possible. Digital home tours are videos the agent captures by walking through the home with a camera, allowing buyers to watch virtual tours from their home.
In some places, temporary business closures are affecting key parts of the real estate transaction, namely appraisals, inspections, closing and title services and moving. Affected businesses are looking for ways to adapt.
Consult a local agent who is in the best position to know conditions in your area and who can advise you on restrictions that might affect selling activities and a buyer’s ability to close.
Can I show my house without having anyone come into my home?
Remote tours are an excellent alternative for generating interest in your home if open houses and tours are not an option due to local MLS restrictions or public health orders.
Here are some ways to give prospective buyers a thorough look at your home:
- Record a video tour of your home and request that your agent post it to Zillow and Trulia
- Upload a 3D Home tour to your Zillow or Trulia listing (iOS only)
- Facilitate a live video tour with a prospective buyer
Recorded video tours
Under normal circumstances, your listing agent might record a video tour of your home to share on Zillow or Trulia. However, if social distancing or health reasons require that no one else come into your home, you can ask your agent for tips on how to record a tour yourself, which they can then upload to your listing. Here are some best practices agents have shared with us:
- Clean and organize your home as you would for an open house.
- Turn on all the lights and open all the doors.
- Plot your route. Generally it works best to start at the front door, tour the first floor, then the second floor if there is one, and end in the backyard.
- Keep family members and pets out of view.
- Put your phone in airplane mode so your video isn’t ruined by an incoming call or message.
- Start your tour in front of the home and pan the street before approaching the front door.
- Narrate as you go, commenting on features like flooring and window treatments as well as neighborhood characteristics.
- Open closet doors and describe the storage situation.
- Smoothly pan your smartphone up and down as you film to capture every aspect of the home.
- Tell the story of your home, but not the story of your life in that home. Avoid including personal details or anecdotes.
A 3D Home tour
Anyone with an iPhone 7 or newer can produce a Zillow 3D Home tour. Simply download the 3D Home app and follow these instructions. It’s free to upload the tour to your Zillow or Trulia listing and enables buyers to “walk” through your home at their leisure. We also support 3D Home tours captured on a 360-degree camera like the Ricoh Theta V.
Live video tours
This option is more complicated, but it might be the right fit for some sellers. Talk to your agent about if and how to arrange a live video walkthrough with buyers who are interested in your home.
For more information to help you make smart choices and think through your next steps, such as what can I do to prepare to sell my home in a few months? is Spring still the best time to list a home to sell? how can I improve my home’s curb appeal? and more check out this selling guide.
Check out these staying informed resources for more on renting, finances, life at home and market updates.
Something to Remember
Although selling and buying properties, particularly during this time, will be stressful – it is important to remember that you can’t shake off certain responsibilities that would otherwise be commonplace.
For example, whether you are selling a property or vacating a rental, it’s important that you ensure that it is in top shape for the next owner. This means far more than doing a bit of cleaning before you leave, and wiping away the dust from underneath the furniture. Remember, while virtual or video viewings are a great way to abide by social distancing regulations – they are often criticized for omitting certain flaws. For example, cracks in your foundation may be hard to spot on a quick video call – but this doesn’t negate the issue entirely, and you must make sure that you take the time to get in touch with a foundation repair company to resolve the issue ahead of time. Minimize this risk by ensuring that you complete any necessary renovations ahead of time – keeping potential buyers happy. This means that nothing will step in your way of the big move – and could also mean that you receive more money for your property if selling.