Is Virtual Selling the Future?

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By: Christel Silver

Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

The governor has declared real estate an essential business in Florida. We were allowed to sell, list and rent real estate, but under strict conditions outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means: wearing face masks, only two people in the house, disinfect the door handle, 6 feet distance, no touching, asking the seller to turn on all light switches and open doors.

These personal showings only occurred after the buyer saw the virtual tour and pictures of the listing. We all learned that many pictures and videos are necessary to market real estate in the past, but now it became a necessity and will be in the future. New technology and applications were introduced and we learned how to upload virtual tours. At a recent listing appointment, the sellers and I sat around a big table where we were all wearing facemasks, and discussed how-to best market the home at this time.

In spite of the current situation, sales and rentals are still happening. People will always have a need to move for whatever reason. My personal opinion is that we in Florida will see a surge of home buyers from up north. Many believe the heat and high humidity to be effective against the Corvid-19. A second home in Florida is now even more appealing.  Since there are fewer homes on the market, the prices will remain stable, and this translates into a seller’s market.

The economist of the National Association of Realtors® is predicting a 2-5% increase in real estate values. While the concrete forecast is still foggy, he compared the increase of unemployment rates from 4% to 14.7% with New Orleans Hurricane Katrina, when the unemployment rate went from 5% to 15%. But after the City recovered again the unemployment rate went back to 5% within a short period of time. The government financial help was and will be a factor also.

But in real estate transactions, not only are the showings done virtually, online closings are becoming normal.  Title companies are getting the documents signed with buyers and sellers in their cars. The Realtors® are asked to stay away from the closing.  We just had the mobile notary signing approved by the government – prior to the pandemic, which now comes in handy.  The remote online notarization is at this time approved by 23 States.

Even the mortgage industry is making changes. For many Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, the appraisers do not have to go inside the house for the appraisal.  They accept exterior only or desktop appraisals temporarily.

The real estate office structure will change as Realtors® work from home, not only during the shelter-in-place order.  Working from home effectively will be the future norm.  This time taught us to learn how to stay in touch with lenders, attorneys, associations and clients using videoconferencing solutions.  Associations offered free educational services to help during this transition.  We learned different ways to stay in touch with each other.

I had sold real estate to clients out of State and out of the country virtually before, and I think we will see more of these virtual transactions in the future. 

About Christel Silver

Christel Silver is a full time Broker/Owner of Silver International Realty servicing the East Coast of South Florida. In 1985 she was licensed in Maryland and Washington, DC as a Realtor and later as a Certified Residential Appraiser and Associate Broker and has been in Florida since 2001. The National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) President appointed her (2010-2014) and again for 2018 as the President’s Liaison to Germany, where she grew up and worked at the Justice Department for 17 years prior to coming to this country. The Germany Real Estate Organization (IVD) has an agreement with the NAR and she is an International member of this organization. Ms. Silver is a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), and a certified speaker teaching CIPS classes. She served the Florida Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) Chapter as President, as Regional Vice President helping Chapters to grow, and as a member of the Board of Directors for two years. She is the Global Ambassador for Austria and Germany in 2020. Fifty percent of her business is in the International arena. For more information visit www.silverhouses.com.