What to Expect if You're Looking to Jump
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
For most of us, it doesn't seem like the right time to be thinking about real estate. We're in the middle of a pandemic. There is a revolution happening. And the guy in the White House has decided he's a dictator. The call for change has never been louder. It is also the time for reassessing your life: cutting out the excess and focusing on what is most important. Change might start at home, with your home. Being savvy at life is at the very core of being a New Yorker. Interest rates are at an all time low AND sale prices can be expected to be 5-10% lower than pre-pandemic sales. There are many who want to leave urban areas because their new mostly-virtual lifestyles permit it. So inventory should remain high. This means one thing: opportunity. I'm not sure you can call yourself a New Yorker if you don't jump on it.
Real Estate falls under phase two of the NYC reopening plan. With the phase two start date looming, I thought it would be a good time to prep you on what to expect in the time of Covid. Here are four changes to the NYC apartment search process, all being put into place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
When requesting an in-person showing, you can expect three new forms to fill out before being granted access. The first is a "Limitation of Liability" form, that explains we as an industry are doing all we can to protect you, but you do increase your risk of exposure to Covid-19 by entering someone else's apartment, and you agree to assume this risk. The second form is a "Health Screening Questionnaire" which determines if a person has tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 14 days, has had any symptoms in the last 14 days, or knowingly been in contact with anyone Covid-19 positive in the last 14 days. If you answer yes to any of these, you may not be permitted to view the apartment. This form is optional but you can definitely expect to see this when trying to view an occupied home. And the third form is a "Fair Housing Disclosure". It is intended to advise consumers about the fair housing laws that real estate licensees and professionals are required to follow as well as how consumers can file a complaint if they believe they have been a victim of housing discrimination.
Virtual Showings as a first step
To hopefully lessen the amount of people in and out of listings, agents are going to require buyers to view virtual tours before scheduling an in-person showing. Now, virtual showings vary wildly. It can be as simple as watching a pre-recorded video of someone walking around the apartment with their iPhone, or it might be a 360 degree tour where you can actually walk around the space online, or the listing agent might FaceTime with buyers from the actual apartment. Each listing agent will guide you through their version of a virtual showing. This added step should really help buyers weed out properties that don't make the cut, saving time and minimizing exposure.
Strict showing protocols
To keep everyone as safe as possible, agents will be asking everyone involved to follow certain precautions. They should be emailed to you before your showing. Most are logical and will be consistent at every listing. They are ass follows:
One party will be allowed per showing (no more open houses).
All parties must wear a facemask.
Seller's agents will supply hand sanitizer and buyers should use it upon entering.
Social distancing should be maintained.
Buyer's agents are strongly recommended to attend by phone and not in-person.
Only the seller's agent should touch anything inside the apartment.
The seller's agent will disinfect all frequently touched surfaces after each showing.
Things will be added to this list to accommodate the specific needs of the seller or building. Beginning and end times for appointments should be respected as buildings will not want people waiting in the lobby or congregating in the halls. All protocols will be spelled out beforehand, and if there are any issues, they can be discussed. Keep in mind it is all for safety, so of course adjustments can be made if appropriate.
Offer to Closing, done virtually
This is the exciting part for your real estate agent. After your offer is accepted, everything else should be done virtually! Except possibly your walk-through. New York has clung to requiring as many as ten copies of board packages, "original signatures", and in-person interviews that could take over a month to schedule because everyone on the board is in the Hamptons. Well no more. You can e-sign all documents needed, for your attorney, your lender, and the board package. They can all be uploaded and emailed to the parties that be, the interview can be a zoom call, and closings are all virtual. The industry scrambled to make this all work and I am so impressed at my colleagues who have made it happen. This radical change in the process alone should be reason enough to buy.
The soonest phase two can begin is Monday. De Blasio has gone on record saying he's thinking July. We don't know when it will be yet, but you can feel it coming. New listings are coming out. Requests about old listings are picking up. Online clicks are increasing enormously. New Yorkers are sensing the opportunity. We had a buyer sign contracts today on an apartment he's never set foot in. Crazy? No. he knew the building and toured the property virtually. We asked extensive questions and the price was right. He jumped on the opportunity.
Let's go, New York. Excited to see you jump and ready to help you do it.