Yes, we had a closing in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. How, you ask?

March 30, 2020

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It’s true, we had a closing for one of our buyers the other day.  March 27th to be exact. It’s true that the State of NJ is pretty much in lockdown, but we were able to get the job done and our buyer is moving into their new home.  How did we do it? Simple.

  • We were able to perform many of the necessary tasks remotely.
    • All contracts and documents were e-signed so there were no face-to-face interactions. Also this way there was no handing of documents and pens between people making it a germ-free experience.
    • All communications with the other agent, attorneys, inspectors were done via phone or email.
  •  There were some interactions where we needed to meet, but they were done with extreme caution.
    • Social Distancing was ALWAYS practiced.
    • I was prepared with equipment: Rubber gloves, disinfectant wipes, ziplock bags (one to carry clean wipes and other for used wipes and used gloves.)
    • When we met for the walkthrough after the seller had made the requested repairs, I instructed the seller to wait in their car until I called them to tell them to come up to the 2nd-floor unit.
    • Before entering the unit, I put a rubber glove on what I will call my “dirty hand”. This is the hand that I used to touch anything that was not disinfected.
    • While going up the stairs I had a disinfectant cloth on the railing wiping it as I went up the stairs.
    • I then wiped the doorknob of the screen door and front door.  I also wiped down the lockbox.
    • Using my clean hand I accessed the app on my phone to open the lockbox.
    • Once it was opened, I wiped down the key before opening the door.
    • After opening the door, I wiped down the inside doorknob. I went to the kitchen counter, wiped it down and removed the glove and placed it and the wipe in the “dirty bag”.
    • I then called my client and instructed them to come up into the unit.
    • The entire time we there we were never closer than 6 feet from each other. In most instances, we were not in the same room at the same time.
    • When leaving I repeated the process, wiping down the doorknobs and railings.
    • The keys were placed in an envelope that I dropped off at the attorney’s office in their mailbox.  (of course, I wiped down all the surfaces first.)
  • Normally I attend the closings to support our clients.  But until this crisis passes we will do it remotely.
  • The seller attended the closing in person.
    • The Attorney contacted me via phone to answer some questions.
    • The title company mailed our check and closing documents to my office.  When they arrive they’ll be scanned and I will process them remotely.

So all in all, besides not attending the closing in person, we performed all the tasks that we always do.  For this particular closing, the home inspection and showings all occurred before COVID-19 was a crisis here, we were present for those events as normal.

But how are you showing properties you may ask?  This is a bit more complicated but the local Real Estate Associations have asked agents to do “virtual showings.”  What’s a “virtual showing?”

The process for a virtual showing is as follows:

  • Contact the listing agent for permission to show the home.
  • Confirm that the seller and occupants are not sick.
  • Confirm that they have not been exposed to anyone who is sick.
  • If that is the case, ask that the seller leave the home while you’re showing it.
  • When the showing is going to happen, your buyer will not be with you.  You will connect with them via Zoom or Google Meets or some other program that will allow you to send them live video from your phone of the house.
  • Again, I suggest for safety, that you bring gloves and wipes and wipe down any surfaces that you will touch.
  • As you tour the home you can talk with your buyer and get their feedback.
  • After the showing simply dispose of your “dirty” gloves and wipes.
  • Done.

The beauty of the virtual showing is that you can also use it for listing appointments.  Have the seller walk you through the home and ask LOTS of questions!  Paperwork can be done electronically, so you don’t have to meet face to face.  Ask the seller to leave a key in their mailbox or mail it to you so you can put it in a lockbox.

It is clearly not business as usual. Until this crisis passes, it won’t be.  But, we are still able to help you buy and sell homes using methods that will keep everyone safe.

Just practices safe and consistent measures.  Keep social distancing, and wash your hands!