Ask McEnearney: What’s My Best Approach to Buy or Sell a House During COVID-19?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Joan Shannon, Founder of The Shannon Group and Lifetime Diamond Award Top Producer with McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Joan at 703-507-8655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What’s my best approach to buy or sell a house during COVID-19?

Answer: During these most uncertain times, one thing that is for certain is that people will need a place to live as we manage our way through the pandemic and return to a much more active time.

We have been beset by worry and woes and more virus media stats and daily charts over the past two months than we can digest. So, for a moment take a deep breath, give yourself a half hour break and look up into the blue sky and enjoy what beauty, rather than fear, nature has to behold.

Think about the family and friends around you and look at all the positive efforts strangers and those dear to you have undertaken to help protect you, your family and our American way of life. Turn the phone off, ignore interruptions, relax at your favorite spot and envision where you want to be a year from now.

For a number of you that vision may include a move and the purchase or sale of your home. However, you may be unsure of what steps to take, what strategies to employ and who to trust through this turbulence. Now, more than ever, is a time to look critically and choose very experienced, local, real estate agents with decades of expertise.

Individuals whose expertise in handling rapidly changing, complex deals and who truly care about providing you the “needed attention and advice for uncertain times” should be at the top of your list. Equally important, seek out local real estate offices that have provided guidance, goodwill and great service for decades. Look to those who are part of the local community, participate in local events, think out of the box and who care way beyond the dollar sign.

An Old Town listing I recently placed on the market — 109 S. Lee Street. My first thought was how could I make the home safe and place anyone viewing it at ease? I immediately decided I would not schedule any public or broker open houses. Instead, I conducted my “Quintessentially Old Town — Virtual Open House Tour” by live-streaming it on Instagram and Facebook. I limit on-site viewings to “private, appointment-only” and disinfect the home (doorknobs, counters and other surfaces) after every individual agent visit.

Upon entering the home, in place of cookies, I have a special “Welcoming Table” where gloves, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, etc. and a place for their disposal are located. Changing times require changing efforts! These live streaming tours I host are as close as the screen on your phone. Our virtual tours allow you to see the beauty of the home from the safety and comfort of your family room couch.

I am pleased that many of my early practices are now being incorporated by other real estate practitioners. Also, I hope all Virginia real estate offices will come to follow the lead recently set by McEnearney Associates. With hyper concerns for client and public safety, Maureen Dunn, President of McEnearney Associates and regional McEnearney officers and brokers closed their office doors to help fight the virus.

They asked agents to conduct business through virtual meetings and make greater use of sending and sharing documents electronically with clients. While agents are remaking their business practices, McEnearney brokers have been committed to keeping their local admin staff and marketing groups working (remotely). Also, McEnearney has become one of the first local companies to become a certified virtual notary, allowing for a degree of contact-free communications not found elsewhere.

Real estate agents’ work has been deemed “essential” to the economy and it is becoming more essential every day. The Virginia Realtors’ Chief Economist, Dr. Lisa Sturtevant, published the third and fourth (April 13) Flash Surveys on COVID-19’s impact on buyers and sellers. Of the members surveyed 51% of buyers decided to delay their home search (was 60% in early April) yet, only 12% of the sellers stated they reduced their sales price to attract buyers.

From the third survey (April 4), 50% of the realtors stated that sellers were postponing bringing new listings to the market and 16% of sellers completely removed their home from the market. The surveys were not randomized, but reflected, in the number of responses and areas they covered, a reasonable level of confidence with a reasonable margin of error of up to 5%.

A conclusion from the third survey stated “…there is little evidence to suggest that home values will drop significantly… the aging of the Millennial population into prime home buying years — will still be in place in the months to come. Household growth will continue to outpace new housing supply…”

No doubt this makes for a challenging market, but what I have experienced in Old Town and locally is that individuals who make an appointment to privately view a house, after having looked at professional photos and virtual tours of the house, are more likely to make an offer. With fewer homes coming to market, placing a home on the market could be a smart strategy as fewer, but better qualified prospects are drawn to the home. There may be good rewards for thinking out of the box, talk to a local, experienced agent.

This century Northern Virginians have weathered the Great Recession, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and now will help end the COVID-19 crisis. Through it all buyers and sellers looked then and should look now to agents with hyperlocal expertise and experience to help navigate their home sale transaction to a successful closing.

Bring your home buying or selling needs and questions to The Shannon Group Old Town experts, Joan Shannon and Philip G. Matyas. Contact us to set up an appointment to view homes from Old Town to Mt. Vernon and beyond and to see how 40+ years of experience, local knowledge, integrity, dedication and care means success for you.

If you have any questions or comments or questions regarding this article please connect with us at Shannon-Group.com; [email protected] or call 703-507-8655. The owner of 109 S Lee Street is a licensed Virginia and D.C. Realtor.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria