Stay Safe While House Hunting During COVID-19

Are you about to begin house hunting? Wonder how you can do so while still staying safe and healthy? Angie shares strategies and ways the real estate world has shifted during coronavirus. 

Life feels a bit different these days, but in some ways they have stayed the same (while still limiting exposure). Many people are still looking to buy or sell a house, even during these times of coronavirus. What are some ways that you can implement in order to stay safe while house hunting?

Start by finding an agent who values safety and will prioritize safety throughout the process. Whether that means wearing masks at a showing or moving showings online. Even before this, Angie and her team were utilizing virtual or video tours to help market and find homes. Depending on the rules in your area, you may still be able to do a showing in the home in person once you’ve narrowed down your favorite.

What else can be remote? Mortgages were often done almost completely online and remote before. Will home inspections move more toward remote? Instead of everyone meeting at the home during the inspection, most of it is being done with the inspector alone in the home with a follow-up phone call and a summary report. Appraisals are also starting to be remote to both speed up the process and keep everyone healthy.

What about closings? Can these signatures be done online with e-signatures? Angie shares what’s common in North Carolina and how adjustments are being made. Finally, if you can find someone available, spring for that home cleaning before move-in day!

Listen to the full episode or click on the timestamps below for tips on how to stay safe while homebuying during coronavirus.

0:38 - How is Angie holding up?

4:05 - Stay safe: find an agent that values keeping you safe.

5:53 - Use virtual or video home tours.

8:20 - Can you still check out “the one” in person?

9:07 - Get a remote mortgage through remote pre-qualification and approval.

10:02 - Home inspections have more rules to limit exposure.

13:14 - Remote appraisals are starting to occur based on available data.

14:53 - Are remote home closings possible?

16:50 - Hire a cleaning crew (if you can find one). 

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The Host:

Angie Cole - Contact - Call: 919-538-6477

Show Transcription:

Note: This is an automated transcription. Please forgive the robots as they tend to make some (a lot of) mistakes...

Speaker 1: (00:02)
It's time for the savvy real tour podcast. I'm Walter Storholt alongside Angie Cole, the owner and broker in charge of ACole Realty serving you throughout the triangle, teaching you about the ins and outs when it comes to buying or selling a home. You can find the team online by going to eight Cole That's a C O L E or by calling (919) 578-3128 that's (919) 578-3128 and now it's time for one of the top real tours in the triangle. Angie Cole and the savvy real tour podcast. Angie normally, uh, I say, you know, welcome to the show. How's everything going? I feel like how you holding up is maybe the more appropriate welcoming this week.

Speaker 2: (00:47)
Yeah, holding up just fine. You know, it's, it is a little bit, you know, I laugh about it though because as far as the quarantine goes in this day at home order, you know, really life is just the same. I think it's more of being told what you can and cannot do for us is what drives us crazy. Because, you know, we're not really getting out and about every single night doing anything, anything wild, you know, um, but you know, we're not able to go and on Sundays go out to eat like we normally do. So beyond that though, I mean we're, we're making lots of laps around our neighborhood, you know, lots of walking, lots of outdoor time, which is great. So yeah, we're doing well.

Speaker 1: (01:27)
Well, glad to hear that. And yeah, I mean, you're a relatively, um, you know, used to working on the go and remote you and your entire staff, uh, just because that's sort of the nature of the business. So that hasn't changed too much about life for you.

Speaker 2: (01:40)
Yeah, no, I mean, we are, you know, our office is closed, right? You know, we're, we're zipping in and out when needed, but for the most part we are all working from home. So that's a little bit different. Honestly, I just miss our team. I miss being around other people in the business and I just, yeah, I just miss them. So I had been working from home, you know, going to appointments here and there and we have been doing a lot of stuff virtually. Um, as far as our team meetings are virtual, you know, some listing presentations. I've been on our virtual, it's actually this past week I've done two virtual listing presentations, you know, so we're trying to limit exposure for sure. So maybe we're not out and about as much, but you know, luckily in the triangle market all areas, except for Durham County, Durham city, um, we can still show homes. So we have a lot of clients who need to get into a home, you know, time is not on their side and they need to find something. So we are still able to show them homes. And on the flip side we have sellers who need a cell and we're able to still, you know, actively market their home and represent them and get their homes on the market and get them under contract.

Speaker 1: (02:49)
If you need help buying or selling right now. I mean what we're going to be talking about all day on today's show, but if you know you need some assistance and want to work with a great team here in the triangle or throughout the greater Fayetteville area as well as Andrew's team has expanded there also you can call or text (919) 538-6477 that's (919) 538-6477 that'll get you directly in touch with Angie and ally to talk through some of those decisions that need to be made, some of your wants and goals that you're looking for in real estate or in your next home or if you're looking to sell, she can walk you through that process as well. (919) 538-6477 your number to call to start the process of buying or selling your next home. To start things off today, it came across some tips that people can implement to, you know, experience safe house hunting during the Corona virus.

Speaker 1: (03:42)
So a couple of tips for how you can still look for a home and do it safely. During this time and I'll kind of throw these little tips at you, Angie, see if you guys are practicing some of these tips. Uh, what steps that you're taking to keep, you know, not only yourselves as agents, keeping your safety in mind, but also those who will be, you know, going through homes and how shopping and, and utilizing your team's expertise. And tip number one is find an agent that values keeping you safe is implementing some of the things that we're going to be talking about. And that's kind of on the forefront of your mind, right, Angie? Trying to keep everybody safe.

Speaker 2: (04:16)
Most definitely. Um, I, I know I have, I luckily got in and 95 masks thanks to my brother, but you know, when I go to an appointment, I ha I'm wearing my mask and it's a little bit, I guess awkward because the client can't see my facial expressions and when I'm smiling at them. But you know, my top priority is to keep myself safe, keep the other person safe and just to stop spreading germs. So, yeah, we are doing everything that we can as agents to value safety and just to be extra cautious. You know, when we're showing homes where I'm going on listing appointments, just to keep everyone around us, you know, healthy.

Speaker 1: (04:56)
Yeah. And not every agent is going to take the situation seriously. So

Speaker 2: (05:01)
just in general aren't, you know, which is unfortunate. You know, it's, it's not a hoax. It's, it's a definitely a, a virus that's, you know, very scary. So, you know, we all need to do our part to, you know, keep, keep it from spreading as quickly as what it is.

Speaker 1: (05:16)
No, that's a great point. And a very true, I know a lot of people don't like the, you know, infringing of our civil liberties and those kinds of things that are going on, but you know, just trying to take care of our neighbors and this is a weird time. So we're all in it together

Speaker 2: (05:30)
to get back to normality. Right. And I think the only way to make that happen is we all need to take a step back and do our part to limit our exposure to each other. And you know, to keep it from spreading so quickly.

Speaker 1: (05:42)
Yup. But, uh, if you need to buy or herself during this time, make sure you're working with agents who take that safety seriously. I think that's a really important thing to be thinking about. So some of the actual tips that you can follow. Hey virtual or video home tours, I know you do this already cause we dabbled in this talking about it last week and you're getting more and more comfortable with them. You were already leveraging it before the technology really became popular. And so, you know, you should work with an agent who's utilizing those, you know, in full force right now.

Speaker 2: (06:11)
Yeah, most definitely. And like you mentioned, we were doing this before the coronavirus came about. You know, there are many clients that we help who are not local, who never stepped foot in a home before they go under contract and close on the home. Um, and so we do our part to help that client really walk through the home, you know, really fall in love with a home so we can face time, zoom, Skype. You know, there's so many options. Many homes might have Matterport, virtual tours, there's so many different options. Matterport, Matterport. So Matterport is, it's actually like you're actually walking through the home. It's the neatest thing ever. So the camera person sets up their tripod at different locations of the home and so you can go from one circle to the next and you can do completely a three 60 so you can truly feel like you're standing in the home and walk up the stairs and then turn around and look at what's behind you.

Speaker 1: (07:11)
Street view or you can walk down the street.

Speaker 2: (07:12)
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So it's a Matterport is a well known version of that. So yeah. So we can do so many different things. Virtual, um, to make the process, you know, easy for you and to help you to really view homes and fall in love with one of them would never step foot into a home. And we also, you know, we will be your eyes for you. I actually had a or a buying agent team meeting this week and that's one of the topics you know we talked about was virtual showings. You know, if you are going out there and you are doing a video for your client, you need to be their eyes for them. Look up, look down, run the water, flush the toilets, you know, really just go above and beyond to make sure we are protecting our clients. So that's what we're here for.

Speaker 1: (08:01)
That's a great point. Yeah, that is a really good tip though. If you are going to have homes viewed in a kind of that virtual sense, that virtual space, you got to kind of think a little bit differently than if you're there experiencing it yourself. So definitely kind of think about what's important for you to really see and really check out and communicate that well with your agent. Now some folks, Angie aren't going to be comfortable never seeing their home in person. So is that still kind of allowable and in the process, if you, maybe you, you house hunt with the virtual, but when you think you've got the one, is it still good to kind of go and try and see that one in person?

Speaker 2: (08:34)
Yeah, I mean we as agents, we would actually prefer for you to step foot in the home into the U S and in our market. You know, we are not restricted to showings. There's only one area, Durham County, Durham city that is restricting showings right now. So for the areas that we service, we can show you that home and we actually would prefer for you to step foot in there and view it. I think that'd

Speaker 1: (08:56)
be best sprawl. Very cool. So again, we're covering some of these, have a safe house hunting tips, making sure that you're staying safe as you look at different homes. Uh, so virtual and video tours certainly leverage that technology. Remote mortgages also on the list here, Angie, I mean, I think a lot of, uh, mortgage folks work this way and have been set up this way for a while. But definitely as you're considering working with, um, you know, a mortgage broker or bank, uh, work with a team that provides you with remote prequalification and preapproval.

Speaker 2: (09:27)
Yeah. Like you said. Um, I feel like this day and age, especially our preferred lenders we work with, I mean that's the norm anyways. Although they would love to see your pretty faces, you know, most of the information gathering, you know, asking of questions, you know, qualifying you and just getting you that full loan approval is all done remotely. It's all online, you know, it's filling in information, uploading your documents to their portal so everything can be done remotely. So, but that's keeping everyone safe. So it's great that they already have those tools in place to make that happen.

Speaker 1: (10:01)
Yup. That's a big win. And now remote home inspections seems to be kind of becoming a new and popular thing. Interesting. I haven't heard of this. Oh, okay. So now how has this, this was a national list, so maybe it hasn't swept into the triangle yet.

Speaker 2: (10:14)
Um, yeah. Or our inspectors are still out and about. Okay. Um, now they do, they have implemented rules, which I feel like is safe for all, you know, they say that sellers can absolutely not be present in their home. Also the buyer and the buying agent cannot be present in the home. They say if the buyer really wants to meet with the inspector, they can meet, you know, the last 30 minutes of the inspection outside. And that's again just to keep everyone, you know, healthy and safe. But I'm not sure about remote home inspections and how or the place, that's all it is.

Speaker 1: (10:49)
The home inspector is still going to the house? Yes. Sorry I didn't set you up well for it. But the home inspector is still going to the house then just a comp. But some of them are not meeting at all.

Speaker 2: (11:00)
Got it. Got it, got it. Okay. Compensate. They're taking a whole bunch of pictures. Yeah. Okay. Yes, yes. Okay. Yes. So yes we are, we are doing this. Yes, we are most definitely in, you know, we were, again, we were doing this before coronavirus hit, you know, because you know, there's buyers who, you know, they couldn't take off of work for the hem inspection and they said you don't do the inspection. Let's do a follow up call list, maybe three way call with the inspector with the agent to understand what's most important, you know, as far as what fell on the home inspection. Uh, but also, you know, like our home inspectors, we have two preferred home inspectors that we work with. They are wonderful about really just given so much detail, so many pictures, you know, and then given a summary port along with that to really make the buyer feel comfortable that they understand what they're truly about. Dubai. Right. They fully understand the of the home. So yes, I agree. We are then doing remote home inspections where it's just the home inspector at the home and then we're able to talk, you know, virtually or over the phone with the buyer at a later time about the home. The home's condition.

Speaker 1: (12:06)
Yeah. I was starting to envision though and when we were on different wavelengths there of the home inspector just chilling at home in the jammies and a video call with the buyer climbing all over this house. Like yeah guys. So just lay the ladder there up against the, yeah, climb up. Now how are we supposed to do this under the crawl space? Saw the lighting's a little damn, but yeah, it looks okay. Pass inspections. So

Speaker 2: (12:33)
the um, the, you know, the, the biggest thing is the, the less amount of people we can have in a confined area. That's our goal. Right? And so that goes for the same thing with our photographer. That's a new rule with our photographer is, you know, they give us like a two hour window when they show up. They actually tell us when they are on their way and the seller has to vacate the home 10 minutes prior to them showing up. And if the seller has not, they will not wait around the con to the next home. But it's just for everyone's safety again. So I think a lot of vendors in our market when it comes to, you know, home purchases and home sales are doing what's needed, you know, are doing their part to keep everyone healthy,

Speaker 1: (13:11)
which is great. Yeah, that's fantastic. And um, you know, this next one on the list too, and G as we talk about these safe house hunting tips, this one is a little bit more of what we were thinking for the, the home inspection. When they're remote appraisals, some appraisal folks are starting to say, you know what, we've got all the data really that we need on the home so we don't have to go step foot in it.

Speaker 2: (13:32)
Yes, you're exactly right. So these are, we are seeing that um, true remote appraisals and the reason being is a lot, or I've heard that approximately 50% of appraisers have actually decided to personally stop business. They have decided, you know what, it is not worth the risk to step into someone else's home. And so the list of appraisals, so all lenders have their list of appraisers. There could be 10 15 people on this list. Well cut that in half. And then you have these other appraisers that are left on the list that are working overtime and there's just not enough time in the day. And so then that calls for, you know, it's taken a lot longer for an appraisal to come back. So what they have now passed or allowing is for more of a remote appraisal. So if an appraiser can look online, pull comparables, you know, feel pretty confident about the value, they can just do what's called like a drive by appraisal and not actually step foot in the home for the tougher, you know, more unique homes. They probably still need to actually go into the home and lay their eyes on the home. But yeah, for more of the cookie cutter, just straightforward, you know, home sales, they're able to do drive by appraisals. And so, you know, also call kind of a remote appraisal, uh, to speed up the process but also keep healthy.

Speaker 1: (14:51)
That's another great point, Angie. And then we get to the subject of remote home closings. Is this becoming more and more commonplace now?

Speaker 2: (15:00)
Right now, we cannot do remote closings yet as far as being able to East sign for closing documents. So here in North Carolina, you still must sign in front of an attorney. But I know in other areas they are allowing like E signatures for closing documents. That's not a thing yet here in North Carolina. But again, um, our closing attorney, uh, Craig McCall, you know, they are being very cautious and you know, they ask that when you have a closing, you know, you're the buyer, you show up right at your closing time. If you have children, they're asking for children not to come in. Any additional family members, they're even asking for the agents to not attend. And you know, we love a company in our clients and be in there. Cause that's, that's the fun part, right? Hey, Oh that's picture time. You know, here's, you know, giving you your closing gift.

Speaker 2: (15:51)
It's, you know, it's wow, we, we've gotten to this point. So that's the final kind of bow on top of, on top of all of that. You know, we want to be present for it, but you know, again, we need to do our part to keep everyone healthy and you know, thank goodness our closing attorneys are still operating. So we really need to do our part to keep them safe because if they get sick, no one's closing, right? And so we are doing, you know, remote closings in the case of left people being present, but the buyer still needs to show up to the closing table unless you do, which I talked about earlier, like a mail away closing. So that's an option as well. I'm a mail away closing is where all the documents are sent to the buyer, you know, with the locations of where they need to sign. And they of course need to still sign it in front of a notary though. So no matter what, you're still signing in front of someone, whether it's a notary or the attorney. North Carolina is not at a place that we're doing East integers for closings.

Speaker 1: (16:50)
All right, last but not least, Angie, this one should be a no brainer. The only problem is if you can't find the folks who would do this, but in some cases I think you still can hire a cleaning crew on moving day. Go ahead and sanitize that new place. That's the final safety step.

Speaker 2: (17:07)
Get rid of all those extra little germs. You know, I know our preferred cleaning company Mercia Silveira who I adore and love and gosh, she's been cleaning our homes from, I don't know how long now, probably good 10 years. But I know she's, she actually took a kind of a little bit of break cause she actually, our personal home, she asked to postpone it, but this week she came out and she cleaned. So there are still people that are in the business and they are still working. So yes, I think it's always great if you can get a thorough cleaning done of your home. I think that's a positive, you know, wipe out those, those door knobs. You know, just rub everything down. Really use lots of bleach, Clorox, whatever's needed to get rid of those germs.

Speaker 1: (17:47)
You've been listening to the savvy real tour podcast. I'm Walter store Holt alongside Angie Cole. She's the owner and broker in charge of Aiko Realty here in the triangle. And if you have questions for Angie, we invite you to go online to a Cole listen to past podcast episodes on the website, read the blog and all the great information, including the option to find a home right there on the website. That's a Cole and you can also call Angie with your questions. (919) 578-3128 

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