Q: Since we are all staying at home to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, how are people buying and selling houses? — Dan
A: Even with stay-at-home orders in place, there are still plenty of people buying and selling their homes, all while complying with the rules and safety protocols.
Real estate agents are marketing homes with video tours, and buyers are doing live video walk-throughs, getting the grand tour from sellers while flattening the curve.
Purchase contracts have been signed electronically for several years. Several states, including Florida, recently passed laws allowing online notarization, so closings are still occurring.
Appraisers now have homeowners take pictures with location-tracking apps to make sure the photos are from the correct house.
Of course, we are living in unique times, so special precautions should be taken. Contracts should allow additional time to make sure that inspections can occur and loans get approved.
With the extended times, the sellers should be able to take back-up offers to protect themselves in case the first buyer falls through. If you live in a condominium, you should make sure that your board is conducting interviews, for which many are using videoconference software.
Excellent communication is always essential, but right now, it is crucial. One of the byproducts of our current crisis is that many tasks take longer and more complicated to complete. It helps if everyone is on the same page and stays that way throughout the transaction.
If a problem pops up, and at least one is likely to, it is much easier to solve if everyone is informed early and works together to get past it.———
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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