All across the United States people are still buying and selling houses despite the presence of COVID 19. At record numbers in fact. The Chico, CA area is no exception. Inventory in Chico today (as of publishing date it is Jan 2021) is almost as low as it was right after the Camp Fire in 2018, when houses were flying off the market, being purchased by fire victims who received their insurance money and wanted to put down roots again in the area. Here is how we are handling the process of buying a home or selling a home in our Chico area during this pandemic.
Virtual meetings, In-person showings
It is hard to imagine making the single most biggest purchase of your life without seeing the house in person first. We are still showing houses in person, but all other interactions, when possible, we are doing via ZOOM or by phone. For example, filling out paperwork can be done virtually. Texts, emails and phone calls handle any and all questions and updates with clients. But when it comes to considering a house to buy, you can still see the house in person. Here are the safety guidelines that the California Association of Realtors have put into place for showings:
Rules for Realtors about showings during the Pandemic
On July 2, 2020, the Departments of Public Health and Cal/Osha revised their posted “Industry Guidance: Real Estate Transactions,” which contains a host of rules detailing how properties must be shown during COVID-19. Here are the 8 steps they published for realtors and brokers to comply with:
Step 1: Adopt a “Prevention Plan.”
Step 2: Do not hold “traditional” open houses or showings that are open to the general public on a walk-in basis.
Use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people at the house. If you are going to hold a non-traditional “Open House,” then any “Open House” signs or ads must include a rider or express condition that appointments or digital sign-in are required before entry. Showings should be done virtually, whenever possible. Only one listing agent and one “buying party” (including the buyer’s agent) may be in the dwelling at the same time.
Step 3: All visitors must sign a PEAD-V form and deliver it electronically to the listing agent in advance of entering the property.
The form should be signed on the day of entry, or if not possible or pragmatic, then no earlier than 24 hours before entry. Doing this accomplishes several things:
a) It is an agreement that the visitor will comply with the Posted “Rules for Entry Showings” (Form PRE)
b) The visitor acknowledges receiving and agrees to the Prevention Plan
c) The visitor attests they are not, to the best of their knowledge, afflicted with COVID-19, among other things.
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Step 4: The Posted Rules for Entry must be posted at the entrance to the property and be clearly visible.
Also link to or publish these rules in MLS listings and publicly online.
Step 5: The property must be equipped with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Face coverings are to be available in case any person did not bring their own.
Step 6: The property must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Commonly used surfaces such as counters, door and cabinet handles, key lock boxes, keypads, toilets, sinks, light switches, etc., must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each showing. The agent who shows the property shall follow cleaning and disinfecting protocols and provide sanitation products unless otherwise agreed. Keep in mind that the brokerage whose plan is being
implemented (almost always the listing brokerage) must regularly evaluate the plan for compliance and correct deficiencies identified. May a seller do the cleaning? If current occupants are present and/or participate during showings, they should adhere to the same cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
Step 7: Open doors and windows, weather permitting, to introduce fresh air. Also, doors and other areas of ingress and egress must be opened to minimize clients touching surfaces.
Step 8: Prior to or immediately upon entry, all visitors must use hand sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and water before touring or inspecting the property.
Real Estate is an essential business
Since we are considered essential then we are still able to conduct business and be there for our clients. It has been amazing to watch the industry and our clients adjust to this new norm. More than ever, technology is playing a huge role in searching for houses, writing contracts and signing documents, negotiating, and passing along information.
Inspectors, lenders and title companies are all a part of the essential business of real estate. Inspectors are all still available and working here locally in Chico. We aren’t sure how the rest of the country is doing in that category but here in Butte county, it’s business as usual for the inspectors. They also have to follow the guidelines posted previously in this blog. Title companies locally are locking their doors but still working like busy bees behind closed doors to close escrows. When it comes time to sign the closing documents, mobile notaries are being mobilized and meeting clients (face masks on!) to have clients sign documents that need to be notarized. If you are buying a home with all cash you won’t need a notary so the title company can Fed Ex or email the documents for you to sign and send back.
The moral of the story is, now is still a great time to sell or buy. Inventory here in Chico and the surrounding areas is less than a month of inventory. In other words, if we stopped taking new listings from today, then Chico would sell out of homes in less than a month. Prices are the highest they’ve been in Chico since 2005. But buyers still have incredible buying power because interest rates have been holding at record lows. So even though a house costs more on its price tag today than it did two years ago, for example, your monthly payment will be lower than it was two years ago because your interest rate today is low enough today to make up that difference.
We hope you stick around and check out our website. There is a lot of information here to check out and you can also search for local homes and get local market reports. If you want to chat with us give us a call today!
Written by Kim Jacobi, Jacobi Team Century 21 Chico