To our community:
We are all adjusting right now to social distancing and hearing rather alarming news of the pandemic. Many of you may be homeowners, or want to be, and wonder how this issue is affecting real estate. Here are some things we're noticing at the present:
1. NWMLS CHANGES: The Northwest Multiple Listing Service is a coop that most firms in Western Washington counties belong to for sharing listings, legal forms, watching statistics, and continuing education. One of the biggest changes is that they've removed the open house field for listing input - those are not advertised through the NWMLS until further notice, in order to help avoid gatherings. So NOW what do we do?
2. OPEN HOUSES: So far, we're finding that we can still keep in line with government health recommendations by limiting the amount of attendees in the home and if the seller wants an open house, we keep on schedule. Our listings are professionally cleaned. Guests are limited and take turns touring. We use disinfectant wipes on high touch areas, hand sanitizer is available, and social distancing is practiced. We have noticed that our open houses are slower, starting 3/21/20, and we have more drive-bys. But we've found another way to make viewing homes easier!
3. HOME SHOWINGS: Our listings now include a professional video. We still recommend buyers drive by or use Google Maps to do a virtual drive by - seeing the neighbors and the yard layout is best done this way. And when your broker is allowed to enter the home, he or she may use an phone app such as Facetime to show you the home virtually. Per the NWMLS, brokers are not allowed to take a video or photos of the home for you without the listing broker's permission. On the other hand, if you still want to tour homes, the MLS recommends you follow the broker in your own car and bring your hand sanitizer along. Of course, if you are any type of ill, do stay home! While touring, keep your distance from your broker. It's surprisingly easy to talk from six feet away.
4. TEXT CODE: We've always provided text codes on our listing signs so anyone driving by can stay in their car, text a number related to that property, and immediately get information for not only that home but the neighborhood, schools and eateries nearby.
5. EXTENSIVE FLIER INFO: Another habit we'll keep doing is providing extensive amounts of information on the home fliers provided on the yard sign. On the back is information about the home updates, the local school ratings, local amenities, driving distances to key things, and helpful facts such as if the seller had the furnace serviced recently. We are very thorough.
6. NEW CONTRACT PAPERWORK: The NWMLS has provided brokers with a new form with a French name - Force Majeure. This helps adjust the contractual obligations to allow for unavoidable forces such as a pandemic. For example, if the county does not record a sale on time, this can delay closing. The county depends on staff to do this work and may be moving slower these days. The delay of closing, in that case, would be no fault of either party but to enforce the needed delay and protect from a potential legal hassle for falling out of contract deadlines, this form protects both parties. Here is more from the NWMLS on how it applies:
While no one can predict what other force majeure events may arise, other examples may include certain government directives (e.g. a shelter-in-place order) that would prevent a buyer from timely completing an inspection of the property because the selling broker, buyer, and/or inspector are unable to lawfully access the property. Similar issues could cause unavoidable delays in appraisals being timely completed and other financing matters. There are likely a myriad of other issues that cannot be contemplated in advance by the parties. (NWMLS, www.nwmls.com, Legal Bulletin 218 - March 19, 2020)
7. Thankfully contract paperwork has always been a breeze for those of us who know how to use electronic signature programs so we'll keep your life easy! We handle the contracts with you over the phone and then send you documents to sign via email. And for signing final paperwork with escrow, many can send a notary to you, for a fee.
8. MORTGAGE PAYMENTS - YIKES!: If you are a seller and find yourself in a difficult situation where you cannot pay your mortgage, please do contact us. Our company survived the crash 10 years ago and helped many people avoid foreclosure. The key is to contact us before you get notice of default. Some lien holders can get rather aggressive once you pass a certain line with them. We understand people have hardships and have ideas for you if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
(Disclaimer: This blog is not to be used as legal or medical advice. Seek counsel from your medical and legal professionals about the information contained here.)
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