Realtors at Sugarbush Real Estate (SRE) are back to showing property, with conditions. Per Governor Scott’s recommendations, real estate agents can now show property, one person at a time.
SRE Realtor Brooke Cunningham explained that in order to show a property during a pandemic, she must first get the seller’s permission. “Because, who knows where that buyer has been?” she said.
“When we show property we can only take one person in at a time and everybody has to wear masks and gloves. People can’t open the fridge or touch anything,” said Cunningham, who has developed a new habit of opening doors for clients and wiping them down with disinfecting wipes when she leaves. “And we can’t show property to anyone who hasn’t quarantined for 14 days.”
Despite the public health barriers involved in seeing property, people seem to be jumping at the opportunity, even if it means making do with a digital tour. “We can do video tours now. They’ve worked out well!” said Cunningham. Recently, a client of Cunningham’s made an offer on a property based on a Facetime tour.
“It’s not a good substitute for walking around in a space, but in terms of a preliminary tour to see if they are interested or not, it works pretty well,” she said.
When it comes to closing a sale, attorneys have gotten used to keeping a distance from agents and clients. “A month ago they were doing closings in the parking lot, no buyers, sellers, no real estate agents. Just two attorneys. And they were doing it on the hood of the car! But I know that has changed,” said Cunningham.
The Valley Reporter caught up with Waitsfield real estate attorney Willem Jewett to see what has changed on the attorney side of the real estate world.
Jewett confirmed that attorneys like him were sticking with their original no-contact protocols. “We don’t have in-person closings,” said Jewett. “But we’ve been able to take care of business. It’s been more difficult and more time consuming, but we get it done.”
Working under COVID-19 social distancing restrictions “feels like doing twice the work and getting half the distance,” said Jewett. For instance, now, instead of simply driving to the town clerk’s office to do some work, Jewett has to make an appointment and manage his other work around that appointment time.
Additionally, if a property needs work before a closing, the process of contracting and securing contractors to do that work now takes longer than before. For example, one gas company that Jewett contacted refused to go into a house to fix a heater. “Every time something like that happens, I have to put some number of hours into it,” said Jewett.
While Jewett noted that some contracts are failing purely due to the anxiety that buyers and sellers are experiencing around the pandemic, he’s also recognized a surge of pent-up interest in Vermont real estate.
“The whole dynamic has changed,” said Jewett. “When 9/11 happened we had a little bit of a flood in from the city. After this, we’re going to see multiples of that. Every Realtor I talk to says they have a list of people who are waiting to look at property.”