Well, here I sit, covered in, well, sweat actually. I'm still in swampy Florida helping out mom and dad (Mom's got a fancy new hip).
I sincerely don't know how anybody chooses to live down here. It's not been the summer getaway that I had planned, but it has been fun hanging out with dad while mom was getting some rehab done.
Three weeks (going on four) is a longtime to be away from home for sure. Thankfully, my honey has been watering the plants, grabbing the mail, and taking full advantage of our central air conditioning. I also think her dog, Rizzo, has been spending an inordinate amount of time on my bed.
As we all work our way through this bizarro time, buyers are really the ones we are curious about. To be clear, sellers should be taking note and listing their homes. If you are thinking of selling, go back and read the last couple weeks of this article. The time is now.
Buyers are motivated and do not seem fazed by the pandemic and its associated challenges. I did a bit more digging this week and came up with even more motivation for sellers to get in the game. I honestly wish I owned a "spare" house just so I could sell it.
"One of the biggest hesitations we hear from potential sellers is their fear of showings or listing appointments," notes Badger Realty agent Susan Solar. "Understandably they are concerned with safety and the general lack of desire for folks to be out mingling with other people."
The beauty of the current situation is buyers are making purchases sight unseen. During a week in mid-April, 25 percent of real estate professionals surveyed by the National Association of Realtors reported contracts being signed on homes the buyers had never physically seen. For a big chunk of buyers, the first time they walk through the front door is after the closing.
I'm not a particularly risk-averse person. I attended two different colleges, one in Minnesota and one in West Virginia, neither of which I laid eyes on before driving or flying out to start the semester.
I recognize the financial commitment of buying a house is larger than a semester at college. But, I knew what I wanted and for those "must-haves" I knew they were there. Everything else was just gravy. These buyers are doing the same thing. Check off the list of the non-negotiable items and everything else, while still important, takes a back seat.
One of the biggest benefits to these virtual showings is the time you get to have with the home. If the sellers have taken the time to create a 3D virtual tour, the potential buyers get to "visit" the home dozens of times without ever disturbing the sellers.
During a showing the buyers are typically trying to be courteous and not really linger too long. We have all been in those shoes and you recognize you are disrupting the owner's lives.
With the virtual tours, buyers can just jump into the home after dinner to re-look at the garage. Then jump back out and go back to watching Rick and Morty reruns. The lesson here, for sellers, is to take loads and loads of pictures and videos. Then go back and take more! I promise that in this case, you cannot have too many videos or virtual tours.
Another secondary benefit coming out of this pandemic is the ability for buyers to save money. 2,000 buyers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months were surveyed. Despite all the reports of our economy struggling and unemployment numbers growing, nearly two thirds of those surveyed said they were able to save more for a down-payment. Thirty-eight percent even stated that they had increased their price range for a home purchase and another 41 percent increased their urgency to buy and shortened the timeline.
No real surprise the garage has crept up to the top of the list of "must-haves" for buyers. Also three bedrooms and two bathrooms are of utmost importance. I'm imagining homes with multiple folks now stuck in the house. Having extra space and plenty of showers is going to be critical.
Along those same lines, large backyard spaces are also near the top of that list. Someone mentioned they were grateful this pandemic started in April and not November. I couldn't agree more. I think our ability to escape to the outdoors has been a bit of a lifesaver. Even if that's just into the backyard.
This pandemic has affected all of us and has crept into nearly every aspect of our lives. It appears that buyers are not letting it hinder their goals of home ownership and sellers should most certainly take note.
The world has not stopped spinning and the real estate market is stable and gaining some momentum (albeit later than normal). If you are thinking of selling, it's beyond time to call your real estate professional and get in the game. You'll be glad you did.
Jason Robie works for Badger Realty