As a retired Infection Control nurse, I find my day often interrupted by the many news stories about the Coronavirus outbreak. The information is overwhelming. And I find myself with many unanswered questions.
There is much fear and panic that comes with a new supergerm that has the capacity to spread so quickly. But “fact over fiction” was our mantra in infection control and self-education is easily done on the Internet. I still remember many of the trustworthy sources I used in my job like the Indiana Department of Health and the CDC. And after 30 years in healthcare, handwashing still saves lives!
Now in my new career as a Realtor®, the Coronavirus is impacting the housing market. The question most asked is whether to sell or wait. The second question is how to keep the virus out of a showing or open house. These are great questions.
Let’s address the first question whether to sell or wait. If you are asking this question, you are in great company. According to Realtor.com, agents are reporting a 7% decrease in seller traffic.
According to Lawrence Yen, chief economist for the National Association of Reators, the housing market can expect an overall decline of sellers by 10% in the short run due to the virus. And Realtor.com reports an 11% decrease in buyer traffic, despite cuts in interest rates to the lowest in 50 years. With mandatory requirements to avoid public places and businesses temporarily closing, many Americans are out of work. And the fear of a recession is a real concern. While recessions are great for bargain hunters, the impact on the housing market, in general, is negative. Recessions typically cause home sale prices to stall and even fall.
The decision to buy or sell is personal and dependent on need. With the uncertainty from the virus, only serious buyers and sellers will be in the marketplace. And this could cause a drop in prices, at least in the short run. The long run effects remain to be seen.
This leads to the second question. How to keep the virus out of a showing or open house? Let’s say you are one of those serious home buyers or sellers. Here are some tips to help you safeguard you and your home during the outbreak.
Use a virtual tour. The Internet has dramatically changed our lives for the better. And the housing market has benefited greatly from the Internet. Both buyers and sellers benefit from a virtual tour. Buyers benefit from finding ideal homes in minutes. The days of waiting on an agent to find homes and then spending endless hours visiting those homes is over. A virtual tour allows a buyer to view ideal homes at any hour and often. Sellers also benefit from virtual tours because only serious buyers schedule showings. This saves sellers the hassle of leaving their home for buyers who are “only looking”. A virtual tour is one of many free services Collins Realty Group offers with our 4% commission.
Limit your exposure during showings. During these unprecedented times, only the selling agent should touch items in your home. Light switches, garage door openers, faucets, and door handles are high touch surfaces that carry a risk of contamination. Having a point person touch items reduces the risk of cross-contamination to buyers and sellers.
Avoid holding an open house. Many sellers want Realtors® to hold open houses to generate buyers. But open houses create a risk to buyers and sellers, especially during an outbreak. And the risk increases with large open house events such as those held for agents. If you do hold an open house, avoid serving food and drinks to reduce the risk of spread further.
Disinfect after each showing. There is a right way to disinfect to reduce your risk. Use of a disinfectant wipe or solution is important. Remember to allow the disinfectant to stay on surfaces at least 10 minutes to kill the germs. And allow the disinfectant to air-dry. It is challenging to find disinfectant wipes during the outbreak.
HouseLogic.com recommends using 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water as an alternative. Remember to only use water and bleach. Combining two or more disinfectant solutions can create harmful vapors that can cause lung problems and possibly send you to the emergency room.
This strain of the Coronavirus is unprecedented. Unlike the strain that causes the common cold, we know very little about COVID-19. If you decide to sell or buy a home, protect yourself and the home against the virus by limiting exposure and meticulous hand hygiene and disinfection.