The coronavirus pandemic has cut into open houses in a major way, but a new survey by the National Association of Realtors suggests potential home buyers are eager to start visiting open houses. A majority of people, 65%, who attended an open house within the last year would do so now without hesitation, according to the report.
“The real estate industry – and our country – has endured some very challenging times for several months, but we’re seeing signs of progress and we are earnestly hoping the worst is behind us,” said NAR’s president, Vince Malta, adding: “While we celebrate homeownership month, we embrace today’s version of homeownership and the unique paths homeowners take to realize their dream. For prospective buyers, the desire to own a home remains strong and the guidance, expertise and professionalism Realtors provide is more important now than ever.”
The survey found that nearly half of buyers (47%) and sellers (53%) said that during the current pandemic, relying upon a real estate professional when searching for or selling a home is much more important than before. A majority of buyers (54%) and sellers (62%) said that particularly during the pandemic, a real estate agent’s guidance is especially valued. In addition, 59% of buyers and 58% of sellers said buying and selling real estate is an essential service.
Despite the rise of virus-fighting measures such as virtual home tours to help keep buyers and sellers safe, about half of buyers surveyed, 51%, said an agent can help buyers glean more valuable information from online listings than buyers could uncover on their own.
More than half of buyers, 56%, said they believe an agent can save a buyer the time and stress of weeding through online listings. Some buyers said they would err on the side of caution: 15% would not be comfortable attending an open house unless there was an approved COVID-19 vaccine and/or a proven medical protocol to mitigate and remedy the effects of the virus; 20% would be willing to resume attending open houses as long as a combination of local or national medical authorities, and/or the location they are visiting provided assurances it is safe to do so.
The report offers key actions real estate agents can take as they continue to navigate their response to the pandemic.
• Actively help buyers and sellers get more out of online listings
• Pair virtual tours with written information about home improvements
• Be sure to include a tour of the neighborhood with the house tour
• Actively engage in the online search process for/with buyers
• Be prepared to limit the number of visitors at one time
• Stock up on hand sanitizers and wipes, they are likely permanent
• Understand why buyers and sellers might be litigation-prone
• Know the protocols, follow them, and don’t be afraid to enforce them
• Talk to your clients, don’t just text and email them