Hard to believe it’s been three-and-half years since the coronavirus shut down the world. In Wisconsin, real estate agents were deemed essential business professionals during that time, because if the housing market faltered, much of the economy likely would have followed suit.
During COVID-19, amid the desire by many homeowners for larger houses to shelter in place more comfortably — and, quite frankly, the number of individuals separating or divorcing and needing new places to live — the residential real estate market in Wisconsin thrived. In order for that to happen, though, several changes were put in place.
Early on, for home showings, one real estate agent was allowed in a home at any given time, and buyers had to wear facemasks and use hand sanitizer upon entering. No children were allowed to tour homes, and the number of people in the buying party allowed inside was limited to two. Additionally, only the agent could touch objects and surfaces such as door knobs and light switches. Social distancing guidelines also were observed. I provided each of my sellers a basket loaded with hand sanitizer, gloves, facemasks, sanitizing wipes and shoe covers, along with a framed note outlining safety rules for visitors.
Fortunately, those strict precautions are no longer necessary. However, other protocols put in place during COVID linger (and probably will remain for the foreseeable future). The two most prevalent are video walkthroughs and condensed showing times.
As the housing market becomes increasingly more competitive, agents who want to set themselves — and their listings — apart from others strive to provide prospective buyers a better overall experience. That’s why I contract with a videographer to capture not only the inside and outside of every home I sell but also drone footage of the neighborhood. This gives buyers a more realistic feel than still images and helps them picture themselves living in that home.
Prior to the pandemic, few if any real estate professionals engaged with video. But during COVID, it became a necessity for buyers who didn’t want to spend time in strangers’ homes unless they were serious about making an offer. If some people were able to rule out the need to tour a home based on a video, that meant less exposure to germs for them, as well as fewer germs coming into the house for sale.
Today, for probably 75 percent of all homes I sell, the purchase decision has been made before the eventual buyer ever steps foot in the home — because videos provide a much more immersive experience.
During the pandemic, many sellers would agree to schedule all home showings during one or two days and usually on a weekend, allowing them to only clean and disinfect once (after all the showings) rather than in between showings at random times.
That trend continues, not so much for sanitary reasons anymore but for sheer convenience. It also creates an urgent excitement among buyers who know that they must make an offer within a designated timeframe, because after that block of showings, the seller and agent are going to review all offers and accept one of them.
During the pandemic, housing prices skyrocketed, and they’re soaring even more today. Buyers who opted to delay entering the market now are facing steeper asking prices and higher interest rates. And the longer you wait, the pricier homes likely will be.
If you’re considering making a move in the post-pandemic market, align yourself with a real estate professional who can help you navigate this often-tricky journey. As always, I’m here for you.
(Image by Andrea Bohl from Pixabay)