As I’m writing this, Massachusetts is in Day 3 of Self-Quarantine. COVID-19 is everywhere in the news and the state has virtually run out of toilet paper and pasta. These are crazy times but what does it mean to you if you want – or need – to sell your home?

There are a lot of opinions about the impact of the coronavirus on the real estate market: from a temporary hiccup to doom, from business-as-usual to opportunity. For most of us, we don’t sell our home for sport, we sell because we need to move and that impetus isn’t going away just because we might get the flu.

Will prices be impacted?

Very likely, yes. If you can wait until the fall to sell your home, you may get a better price. Then again, there could be a glut in the market then if all sellers who were hoping to sell now instead list their homes in September. The best course for you is likely the one that makes the most sense to you and works best with your plans and goals.

One of the strategies that real estate agents use in a sellers’ market is the open house. Open houses bring a lot of people to the house at one time and that can invoke a fear of loss in buyers. They see all of these people in your home – which they want to become their home – and they get nervous. They’re likely to make an offer that is above the asking price and you as the seller could get multiple offers and have a bidding war. So what if you can’t have an open house for some reason (like COVID-19, for example)? How can you create the excitement and fear of loss without violating self-quarantine?

Go Virtual

If you had planned to sell your home in the next few weeks or if it’s already on the market, consider asking your agent to plan a virtual open house. Although there are lots of ways to educate buyers about your home without them being there physically: like virtual tours or 3D modeling, a virtual open house has all of the benefits of the other methods with a personal touch.

Similar to an in-person open house, your agent will schedule a time with you and notify buyers and buyers’ agents via MLS, Zillow, and other syndicated services. Interested parties are given a link to a virtual meeting room and told to click the link on Sunday at 1:00 PM or whatever time you choose. At the appointed time, the agent arrives at the house and begins the tour on Zoom, GoToMeeting or a similar service. As the agent walks through the home, he or she can respond to questions and instruction from the buyer attendees: like please open the kitchen cabinets so I can see inside. Those attending the virtual open house know that others are also on the call but won’t be able to see the other participants.

If done properly, this type of home tour can generate the excitement of a busy open house but without the germs and muddy footprints. It has the added advantage of including buyers from out of town who would otherwise not be able to participate. If your agent has questions about logistics, have them give me a call. With a little ingenuity, we’ll get through this together.

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