By now, unless you’ve been self quarantining under a rock, you are well aware of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe. This novel form of COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province of China, and has since spread globally, seriously affecting both vulnerable populations and major aspects of the economy.
Many schools have closed for the remainder of the year, leaving parents to homeschool their kids until summer arrives. The majority of businesses deemed “non-essential” are temporarily closed, and even “essential” businesses have had to modify their business practices and hours of operation.
The real estate industry in Washington is not immune to these changes. On March 23rd, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an order called “Stay Home, Stay Healthy”, similar to the measures taken in hard-hit states like California and New York. This order requires all Washingtonians to stay at home unless they absolutely must leave for an essential activity, bans all gatherings for social, spiritual, and recreational purposes, and orders all non-essential businesses to close.
Some aspects of the real estate industry in Washington have been deemed essential and are able to proceed subject to strict limitations and protocols. This is by no means business as usual, but for those that need to move, we are able to help and guide you through that process.
We at At Home Spokane Team of RE/MAX Inland Empire want you to stay as informed as possible about every aspect of your home buying or selling journey, and this unique situation is no exception. Below, we’ll run through everything you need to know about the changes that will be made for the time being.
Gov. Inslee’s March 27th Memorandum
On March 27th, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a memorandum regarding the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation specifically addressing its effect on the real estate and mortgage industry. This memorandum states that some real estate activities are considered essential, as there were thousands of real estate transactions already pending in Washington before measures were taken to combat COVID-19. Gov. Inslee also acknowledged that many Buyers and Sellers are currently moving from one home to another and that to suspend these processes could potentially cause displacement or even homelessness. Therefore, ongoing transactions are allowed to continue and close, although this should be done remotely wherever possible.
While we in Washington are allowed to initiate new real estate proceedings, there are important guidelines we need to follow during COVID-19. These include:
- Postponing in-person meetings between clients and realtors, except when absolutely necessary for a client to view a home or sign documents
- Canceling/postponing all open houses
- Scheduling final walk-throughs, inspections, appraisals, and property viewings by appointment only, with a maximum of two people on the property at one time. These two people should exercise social distancing and remain at least 6 feet apart at all times.
- Processing any new real estate listings completely remotely, except in the limited circumstances listed above.
It’s important to note that the two-person maximum rule DOES include your realtor, inspector, or other professional. This means that if there is more than one potential buyer looking at the home, all but one person will need to wait outside (in the car or offsite). They can then rotate through so that everyone has a chance to see the property.
We Can Still Assist
So, if you need to move, we at At Home Spokane Team of RE/MAX Inland Empire can absolutely still help you with buying or selling a home. We just need to adhere to the above guidelines. We take your health very seriously and will do everything we can to keep things running as safely and smoothly as possible. There are many scenarios that may deem your move essential, and many that may deem it non-essential. Rather than get into multiple hypothetical scenarios, we are encouraging you to reach out directly to us so that we can help you determine the safest, healthiest course of action for you!
While those guidelines may seem fairly straightforward, we know you may have more specific questions about your individual situation. With that in mind, we’ve also put together some frequently asked questions for you.
- Can I hire movers to move me in and out of my home? Unfortunately, no. Moving services aren’t currently considered essential. If you’re able to postpone moving in or out, it might be a good idea to do so. Otherwise, it will have to be you and your household putting in the work.
- I’ve listed my home for sale and want to take great pictures; can a stager still come stage my home? Again, the answer here has to be no for the time being. Staging is not considered essential, so stagers may not stage homes or remove staged furnishings for as long as the Stay Home, Stay Safe order is in place.
- Can I still list my home for sale? Yes! Your real estate broker is still allowed to add new listings into the MLS (multiple listing service) system. They can come to your home to take pictures, film presentations, and even create virtual home tours, provided they follow the two-person maximum rule and adhere to social distancing guidelines. You can also take pictures of your property yourself to send to your broker. Professional photography isn’t considered an essential industry, so if you’ve always wanted to dabble in photography, now’s your chance!
- Can I still get my home inspection done? Yes, you can! Home inspections are an important part of both the buying and selling process. As long as the inspector follows the two-person maximum rule and all social distancing guidelines, your inspection is good to go.
- Can my home repairs go ahead as planned? The short answer is, it depends. Some repairs can still be made, but they need to be considered essential. This means only emergency repairs or repairs that are necessary for the structural integrity of the home can go forward. For the time being during COVID-19, cosmetic repairs will have to wait.
We know all the changes you’ve had to make to your daily life might be difficult, and even frustrating. But, At Home Spokane Team of RE/MAX Inland Empire is in your corner. We’re here to be a resource for you – to help you stay informed, safe, and healthy during and after the spread of COVID-19. Feel free to reach out to us with your questions and concerns, and above all, stay safe!