What you should know about selling your home under lockdown

30 March 2020

The current spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the efforts to contain it have impacted almost all aspects of daily life - and real estate transactions are no different.

The current lockdown bans non-essential interactions with clients, which means that selling a home will look different than in years past. The lock-down effectively prevents viewings with potential buyers and physically introducing them to properties.

For now, Show Houses will be a thing of the past.

"We expect the deeds office to be closed during the lock-down! This means, for now, in all likelihood property transfers will be delayed until further notice," says Antonie Goosen, Founder and Managing Director of Meridian Realty.

"Less motivated buyers and potential tenants will decide to rather postpone their property hunting until after the crisis, or to only engage with properties that are highly attractive to them.

"Similarly sellers that are not highly motivated to sell may decide to withdraw their property from the market until a later stage. On the other end we will likely see new inventory due to the financial difficulties people will face as a result of this crisis," says Goosen.

What remains clear during this Covid-19 lockdown is that the real estate market will be "affected by the health of the economy, consumer confidence, and levels of employment in particular, which means that major disruptions in other sectors will impact the property market".

Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett says, "If you do decide to go ahead with a sale, buyers will have to sign the OTP with a suspensive condition that stipulates that the transfer will only go ahead once it has passed a home inspection."

By leveraging technology, there are still ways for real estate agents to interact with listing clients and potential buyers, says Goslett.

To start, many home tours will become virtual. But, as technology has progressed, this is not entirely something new and has already been used as a powerful tool in marketing a home for some time now. But ultimately prospecting new buyers will be tricky over this time.

However, this does not have to take the shape of an expensive virtual tour video, professionally shot with high-end equipment. Agents can brief homeowners on how to conduct a video call over WhatsApp so that the buyers can ask questions about the property as the homeowner walks through the home, says Goslett.

'Or wait until the crisis passes'

For those who would rather wait until this crisis passes before listing their home, Goslett explains that there are things that can be done while we are being asked to stay home.

If you can get your hands on some hardware supplies, start doing touch-ups around the house, like painting over scuff marks or fixing broken door hinges. You could also begin packing your personal belongings into boxes to be stored in your garage or some other unused space. Spending time getting your outdoor area cleaned up and landscaping prepared will also prove useful. That way, as soon as we return to a more normalised market, you are ready to show your home.

The property market tends to be a more resilient investment type than most.It is however by no means immune to major disruptions in the economy, and it remains to be seen how much this will affect our market.

"We are in unchartered territory and some speculate that it may take a few months to stabilize, where others reckon we should prepare for up to two years for the pandemic to play out. Truthfully, at this point nobody knows for sure. What is certain is that we are in for very tough times in the short to medium term," says Goosen.

"Currently there are a lot of factors out of your control, so it is important to shift your focus on the things that you can control. There will undoubtedly be opportunity in this market. However, it is vital to realize that the playing field has changed drastically and that you will have to adapt like never before in order to ride out this massive storm successfully."

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