In the wake of the spread of coronavirus, you may be wondering if now is the right time to continue to house hunt. Despite the anxiety and constant changes, for now, the real estate market remains active. Believe it or not, sellers still want to sell their homes and buyers are still out there ready to purchase them!
COVID-19, or coronavirus, has already affected everyone’s way of life and the normal way real estate agents work. You may be feeling uncertain about house hunting, going to showings or even meeting with your real estate agent right now- all of which is understandable.
However, with the right safety precautions and the help of your real estate agent, there’s no reason you can’t continue to hunt for your dream home. You may just find you’ll be doing it a little differently than you were before.
We’ve put together some of the best coronavirus safety tips for homebuyers so that you can confidently and carefully continue the search for your home.
10 Coronavirus Safety Tips for Homebuyers
Many of these safety tips will seem like common sense but consistently following them (and making sure everyone you work with is too) will keep you healthy during your house hunt.
1. Talk to your agent to find out what safety measures they’re taking.
Your first line of defense in a house hunt during coronavirus will be your real estate agent. They don’t want to be sidelined by coronavirus anymore than you do and everyone is adapting by implementing new sanitation policies.
If your agent hasn’t reached out to you already to share what their new practices are, here are some questions you can ask:
- Are you still working from your office or from home?
- If office, is your office closed or is access restricted?
- Has your office been sanitized?
- What safety precautions are you taking with your clients?
You and your agent should discuss your plans for moving forward with your house hunt. Will your agent do virtual showings for you? Are they comfortable meeting with third parties, such as the home inspector, for you? When does it make sense for both of you to meet- if at all?
Communication is key here and you may find that your agent already has plans in place to make sure you both stay safe while the house hunt continues.
2. Your agent can ask the seller if anyone in the home is sick.
This one may feel odd and a little personal to ask but right now safety is everything. You absolutely can and should ask your agent to talk to the seller or their agent to find out if anyone in their household has been sick.
Now is the time to exercise caution! If they tell you that someone in the home has been sick recently, you can either cancel or reschedule the showing all together or ask your agent to work with the seller on a virtual showing.
3. Drive your own car to showings.
If you feel comfortable going to showings (and the seller is letting people into the house), make sure you drive your own car there. Previously your agent may have been the one driving you there after first meeting up at their office. Skip that step!
4. Bring the minimum number of people with you.
Although the recommendation now is to keep gatherings to 10 people or less, you should still exercise caution and bring the minimum number of people with you to a showing. If you’re house hunting with a partner or spouse, by all means, bring them along with your agent. But if you’d normally want to bring your parents, children or friends, please reconsider. This ensures your safety as well as the safety of the seller.
Practice social distancing and stand at least 6 feet away from your agent during the showing. It may feel silly at first but just think of this as the new normal going forward.
5. Keep hand sanitizer on you at all times.
If you do go to the home for a showing, meet your agent at their office or do anything that involves a public space, use hand sanitizer liberally. Sellers should have it available in their homes if they are allowing buyers into their house, but you shouldn’t assume they will.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands with soap and water whenever possible, but hand sanitizer is a viable solution if that’s not possible. Hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective.
If you’re having a hard time finding hand sanitizer right now, ask your agent if they have any you can use.
6. Remove your shoes or wear shoe coverings inside the house.
Ideally, the seller would provide shoe coverings or booties of some kind when you arrive at the home. If they do, you can either remove your shoes (but leave socks on!) and wear the booties or put them over your shoes- whatever the seller asks of you.
If the seller doesn’t have any shoe coverings on hand, you can bring your own and throw them away afterward or just make sure you remove your shoes at the door before coming in.
7. Don’t touch anything in the house.
This will definitely be difficult! It’s hard to resist the urge to run your hand over new granite countertops or open closet doors to see how much storage space there is. Sellers should be sanitizing every surface in the house but for your own safety and out of courtesy to them, just don’t touch anything, if possible.
8. Don’t sit on the couch or any beds.
Following the same logic as the last tip don’t sit on any sofas, chairs or beds in the seller’s home. Anything with fabric like a sofa, curtains, beddings, towels, carpet or rugs are considered soft surfaces and are much more porous than hard surfaces, like a counter or doorknob. Soft surfaces are harder to disinfect as often and as thoroughly as hard surfaces as often and as thoroughly as hard surfaces.
9. Wash your hands immediately after the showing.
This should also go without saying but if possible you should wash your hands immediately after a showing. Sanitize immediately after leaving the home before you get back into your car. Once you arrive home, wash your hands thoroughly according to CDC recommendations.
10. Do not go to a showing if you do not feel well.
If you, or anyone in your household or family, do not feel well or have recently been sick, please do not go to a showing in person. Even if you’re sure you just have a common cold or a temporary stomach bug, be thoughtful and be smart about entering someone else’s home.
Talk to your agent about a virtual showing. Real estate agents are pretty creative when it comes to serving their clients and they usually already have the technology in place. It could be as simple as a FaceTime call with your agent walking through the home or it could be a virtual tour on Zillow.
What if I have a home inspection?
Use these same safety tips when it comes to a home inspection. Talk to your agent and inspector about safety protocols in place and don’t be afraid to ask if the inspector, or anyone in their office or family, have been sick lately.
Many inspectors are ramping up their sanitation practices and using social distancing and technology to make inspections as safe as possible for everyone involved.
If you have questions, anxiety or fears about coronavirus safety practices, please talk to your agent! Most likely your agent is quickly adapting to new protocols and precautions and will be able to thoroughly explain everything that’s being done in the real estate industry to keep buyers and sellers safe.
We are working closely with industry experts and agents to monitor developments in the real estate market. If you still have questions, you can refer to our guide 6 Questions Buyers Are Asking About Real Estate and Coronavirus. Stay tuned for more resources so you and your agent can navigate the new real estate market successfully.