A “New” Normal – will Open Houses survive?
As we approach 7 weeks (March 19th) of Shelter-In-Place, SIP, the real estate market continues to flourish. For example in our local market, Menlo Park since SIP has 20 homes sold, (sale pending or closed), 25 in Palo Alto, and 3 in Portola Valley. New listings since SIP include 24 in Menlo Park, 23 in Palo Alto, and 4 in Portola Valley. (No new listings or sales in Atherton). Very low interest rates, lenders and title companies in full swing while SIP, and our usual high demand with very low inventory are all contributory factors.
As with 9/11 for example, it takes time for everyone to readjust to a new normal. About 10 days ago Jason and I noticed activity on our listings picking up from almost a dead stand-still. Now without open houses, we are experiencing more showings than we would in previously “normal” markets, interesting. A favorite colleague and pillar of the Menlo Park real estate community who has since passed, used to comment that he didn’t understand why there were open houses at all when serious buyers should be shown homes by their agent. His premise was why have a bunch of non-interested traffic, i.e. “lookie-loos”, walk through your home?
As we strategize about how to improve the virtual presence of our listings, some of the tools we already use include a comprehensive 3D virtual tour which “walks” the Buyer(s) through the home room by room. This tool actually helped to sell one of our listings to a foreign buyer who never physically saw the property. Although personally we will always prefer actual staging, for some virtual staging is now appealing, at least to get Buyer(s) to the property. We require a signed PEAD, a (Coronavirus) Property Entry Advisory and Declaration form, before all showings advising Buyers and Sellers of the potential risks.
Will “physical” open houses survive? Who knows…let’s wait and see.