Yes we are in the middle of a global pandemic, but the world keeps turning and life moves forward. If you were wanting to sell your home before last March, chances are you still want to sell it. Like the world, the real estate market moves on. People are still buying and selling property, but you might have a few other things to think about.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to sell your house, but you want to do it in such a way that all parties involved have the smallest possible risk of getting sick. Here are a few suggestions.
Make use of technology to keep personal contact to a minimum
If COVID-19 had come about even 15 years ago we would be a lot worse off than we are now. Smartphones and the internet have made it easy enough to stay in touch with loved ones, work from home, and even shop, without contributing to the spread of the Coronavirus.
Using these same technologies can help you sell your home safely. The overall strategy for personal contact should be quality over quantity. You want the people that do come see your property in person to have all but made up their mind about your place. What you don’t want is for people to have to come tour your property to find out more about it.
The good news is that even before COVID-19, most house buyers started their journey online. The internet is your best friend for marketing your house and it has been for some time. However, now you want to make the very best use of internet marketing. Where you might have thought of online marketing as a way to get buyers through your door. Now you want to think about it in the opposite way. You want to give buyers enough information to make up their minds before visiting.
Photos are key
Photos sell properties. It’s that simple. Good photos sell properties fast. If at all possible you want to get a professional photographer to take the photos. They will have access to lighting, lenses and techniques you may not have. Photographers also have experience. They know what angles sell best and what rooms to emphasize.
That being said, modern tech can make just about anyone a reasonably good photographer. The camera on most smartphones is as good as the best digital camera from 15 years ago.
Here are a few tips on taking your own photos.
- Keep your camera in landscape mode. Wider photos just look more professional than tall skinny ones
- Turn on all the lights. Even the lights in rooms off of the one you are photographing.
- Try not to shoot toward a window if the sun is coming in. It will play heck with your lighting and you will get a dark photo with a bright window. Instead, stand by the window and use the light to shoot the rest of the room
- Keep your eye on the little things. Is all the trash picked up? Do you see a lot of electrical cords? Is the toilet seat down?
- Tell a story. Don’t just upload random pictures. Take the buyer on a tour. Put the rooms in the order that you might walk through the house. Starting with the front of the house and the entry and ending with the backyard.
Videos are the new photos
While photos are the meat and potatoes of real estate marketing, videos can really spice it up. You can follow most of the tips for photography listed above when shooting a video. Pay special attention to shooting in landscape. There are a few more things that can help a video.
- For the most part keep the camera/phone at eye level. You are giving the impression that the buyer is walking through the house in person.
- Get several angles of each room. For example, pan the room, walk to the other end and pan again.
- You can upload the video to the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, or even youtube) so you don’t have to send the entire video to prospective buyers. You can just send them a link. It’s easier on everyone’s mailbox.
Write good descriptions.
Photos and videos are perfect for grabbing attention and working up excitement. But eventually the buyers will have specific questions about the house. This is where your description comes in. Be as precise as possible. After your initial description, get specific. How many square feet in the house? In the living room? The bedroom? How old is the roof? These are things that are going to be asked so you might as well get the information together. You might want to add a basic floor plan if possible (there are several simple online floor plan creators.)
While all of these things are important in any market they are particularly important currently. If you can provide as much information as possible, then you wont have to worry about browsers and you will be dealing with educated and motivated buyers.
Maintain a safe environment for yourself and anyone that does tour your home
Eventually someone will want to come and see your house for themselves. When they do you want to make sure that it’s as safe as possible for everyone involved.
Schedule any house tours carefully and deliberately. This is not the time to host shoppers and “looky-loos.” You only need to have people in your home that are genuinely interested, and already educated on your particular house. You might even ask them, politely, if they have seen the information you have already provided, before you make the appointment.
Before a scheduled appointment make sure to clean and disinfect any “high touch” areas, like countertops and doorknobs, and to leave lights on and doors, closets, and cabinets open to limit what visitors need to touch. Put a sign on the front door requesting people viewing the home to take off their shoes and that they wear a mask.
Make hand sanitizer and soap available and make sure that visitors are welcome to and encouraged to wash their hands. You might even put up signs to the effect.
You might want to make you and your family scarce. If you have an agent showing your property and you don’t need to be there, don’t. Group all of your showings together in a weekend then go somewhere else. If you are giving the tour yourself, then send the rest of the family away. You want as few people involved as possible.
And finally, clean again after each showing. Hit those high touch areas again and make everything safe for the next buyer or yourself after the last one leaves.
We don’t know when things will go back to normal and it’s not out of the question to think that our current situation will make quite a few changes in the way business is done for the foreseeable future. You don’t have to put your life on hold, you can move forward with your plans to sell your house, just remember that things are different now. You can do it safely and responsibly.