Dear Monty column: Ten tips to buy or sell your home during COVID
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Reader Question: We are planning to sell our home come spring. We have noticed surging home sales across the U.S., so we know home sellers are active in the market, even with COVID. We want to be prepared to show our home considering COVID. What should we do when a prospect wants to see our home?
Monty's Answer: Even after eight months of the pandemic, the public has conflicting views about COVID. There are multiple reasons for the confusion. It is a very contagious virus that draws attention from the media, and COVID has become politically controversial. While most people who contract the virus recover, unfortunately, specific populations are dying from it.
Home seller suggestions
Take the following precautions. These precautions serve two purposes; they protect both the home seller and the homebuyer. All the world's precautions will not eliminate the risk, so consider using them, and other strategies, at your discretion.
- If there is room outside the front door, create a staging area to avoid congregating in a small space.
- Wear a mask.
- Offer masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer and booties to customers at the door.
- Allow one family in at a time.
- Practice social distancing while prospects are in your home.
- Disinfect surfaces between customers.
- Please wash your hands after you wipe down items they touched.
- Turn on all lights, open doors, and a few cabinet cupboards and closets to eliminate the need to handle.
- Remove or cage pets to encourage social distancing.
- Tell customers to take the mask, booties and gloves with them when they leave.
There can be a fine line to walk when you want to find a buyer. Aside from the COVID precautions, a home seller wants a happy, comfortable prospect. Prepare yourself for the unlikely event a customer may not want to use the safeguards you offer. Some sellers would let them come into the house. Other sellers may insist they comply or turn them away.
Homebuyers can also take precautions. There will be home sellers that do not follow the protocols listed above. Consider being proactive and be prepared to don your masks, gloves and booties. You can also take several of the suggestions from the sellers' list and incorporate them into your home search practices. A prospective buyer may consider remembering to respect the property owner's wishes, even if they do not line up with your beliefs - "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
Inexpensive to implement
The Environmental Protection Agency has tested over 500 cleaning products. If you want to be sure you have an approved disinfectant, the EPA tool to verify it is here. Disposable vinyl gloves are available in big retail stores for about ten bucks for 100 pairs. Online retailers sell 50 face masks for $5.99 and overshoe booties sell for $11.99 for 100 disposable pairs. Your home will sell before you reorder for a $35.00 investment.
Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money - An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty, or at DearMonty.com