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Just How Accurate Are Those Online Home Value Estimates?

If you’ve ever gone online to check out the value of your home or to make comparisons, you aren’t alone. Online home value estimators can be a handy tool in some cases, but you have to understand their limitations.

Zillow’s Zestimate is perhaps the most well-known estimator, but Redfin has one too.

Below, we talk about what you should know about home valuation tools, also known as automated valuation models or AVM.

What is an Automated Valuation Model?

AVMs are computer-driven algorithms and formulas that use basic property features paired with pricing trends and local market information to create a value range or an estimated value for a home.

There are some cases where a lender might use an AVM to quickly get a potential estimate of the value of a property.

All the AVMs use their own formulas and may pull data from different databases. As you might imagine, the estimates’ reliability and accuracy depend primarily on the quality and integrity of the data they’re pulling information from.

There are a lot of underlying assumptions made with an automated model.

For example, AVMs work on the assumption that all properties are in a similar condition to one another. There’s no way for these automated algorithms to consider if a home is in poor condition or if upgrades have been made.

Due to the fluctuations in the figures AVMs come to, lenders will set policies on whether they’ll use them and, if so, which they’ll use.

How Do Zillow Zestimates Work?

Zillow’s well-known Zestimates are based on what the company says is a proprietary algorithm. Zillow reports the estimates include data from public records and data users submit.

The company doesn’t claim that they’re 100% accurate. If all the properties within a small radius are similar, the prices are more accurate because there are less likely to be major variances throwing off the algorithm.

If the estimates come from a neighborhood with older homes, they’re likely to be less accurate. Some homes will have been improved and maintained over the years, and others won’t have been.

The accuracy of a valuation is measured using an error rate. An error rate calculates how often the algorithm is wrong. More specifically, how often the value of a property as measured by the AVM is very different from the sales price of a home.

The Zestimate gets within 5% of a home’s actual sales price more than 82% of the time. It’s within 10% of sales price more than 95% of the time and within 20% nearly 99% of the time.

That can sound pretty accurate at first, but it’s less impressive when you figure out how many tens of thousands of dollars these variances can represent.

The Zestimate median error rate goes up to nearly 7% for off-market homes. If a home hasn’t been sold lately, there’s not much data that an AVM can pull on it.

Over time, the algorithms tend to get more accurate. Zillow says that it will make offers to buy homes at their Zestimate price in some markets, or at least it did when Zillow Offers was operational, which it recently announced was closing down.

Realtor.com Offers Three Figures

Realtor.com takes a different approach when it offers online users home value estimates. The company pulls estimates from data provided by different companies it partners with. There are three estimates so that people can see the picture of how much their home is worth is more variable than what they might get from just one figure.

Redfin vs. Zillow

Redfin and Zillow are two competing tools for estimating the value of a home. They can sometimes give different figures for the same property.

Overall, Zillow’s Zestimate seems to be more accurate. The median error rate is a little lower than what’s calculated for Redfin, including both on-market and off-market properties.

Redfin is very transparent, though, which is an advantage it has. Redfin provides a lot of information on how they get their figures.

You have to remember that while these tools might give you a general idea of how much a home is worth, they’re not the same as an appraiser.

Before a lender signs off on a home loan, they require an appraisal. Appraisers do a walk-through and then write a report. They will also include market data and comparable properties, so this will be much more accurate than what you see online.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

The Worst Parts of Buying a House

It’s normal to romanticize buying a house. It’s one of the biggest things you do in life, and you may have dreamed of the time when you could become a homeowner. While there’s a lot to be said for the upsides of purchasing a home, that doesn’t mean it’s not a tough process.

Particularly in the current market, buying a house can be frustrating and demoralizing.

Sometimes, knowing to prepare yourself for letdowns and challenges can help you make a smarter decision overall.

According to homebuyers, the following are the worst parts of the process with that in mind.

Dealing with High Prices

Home prices are at historic highs right now. Certain markets are more affected than others, but almost across the board, this is true.

There are many reasons for the high prices, from inflation and supply chain issues to low inventory.

It’s tough because what someone could have afforded in the market that existed just a few years ago isn’t today’s reality.

Avoiding Overbuying

In line with the high prices buyers are facing universally right now, you have to make sure that you’re not overbuying. What happens to many people when they buy a home, particularly if it’s their first time, is that they let emotion take over.

You might have gone into the process with a clear budget, determined to stick with it.

Then, you get into the heated, competitive marketplace and fall in love with a home out of your budget.

You might develop an emotional attachment to that home, and you could spend either more than you can afford or more than it’s worth.

Keeping your emotions in check is one of the most difficult parts of buying a home for a lot of people.

You have to remind yourself repeatedly to stick with the facts rather than emotions.

Being in a Bidding War

Bidding wars are everywhere right now, as you might realize. Some people put in a full-ask, all-cash offer for a home and are promptly outbid. It’s such a competitive marketplace, and the emotional component can again come into play.

If you’re part of a bidding war, it’s easier to get caught up in what’s going on at the moment and pay more than you should. You might theoretically be the winner, but you could be the loser because you’re paying more than the house is worth.

There can be significant financial consequences of overpaying for a property, no matter what the market is like right now. Mortgage lenders only give loans based on the property’s actual value, not what you want to pay. Even if you bid the price up, that doesn’t mean that’s the loan you’re getting.

At the same time, if you keep getting outbid, it can also make you feel frustrated and like you’re never going to find a home. Plus, if you’re renting, you’re continuing to put money toward that.

The Paperwork

The paperwork that comes with getting a mortgage and buying a home is challenging.

Just how complex and burdensome the paperwork is can vary depending on the type of loan you’re trying to get and your financial situation.

If you’re self-employed, you’re probably going to find the loan process is the worst part of buying a house. You have to show years of bank statements and tax returns.

As you wait to finalize your loan, you might feel anxious about everything. Your loan might not even be finalized until a few days before closing, and there’s uncertainty as you feel like you’re in limbo.

While there are certainly downsides that come with buying a house, the reward will be worth the sacrifice if you take your time and make a good financial choice.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

Signs You’re Overpaying for a House

Unfortunately, overpaying for a house is a common issue among buyers right now. The market is incredibly hot across the country. The demand for homes is high, and the supply is low. Many people are trying to buy houses only to find themselves in bidding wars.

Bidding wars can make it more likely that you overpay for a house.

When you overpay for a house, you’re going to spend more on everything, including the down payment, the closing costs, and the thousands more you pay in interest over the years.

So how do you know you could potentially be overpaying? No matter what your emotions are telling you, the following are signs and red flags to watch out for in the process.

The Listing Price Is Different From Comps in the Area

If you find a home that you feel is what you’re dreaming of, but the listing price seems out of line with the sales of comparable properties in the area, it’s potentially a red flag.

It could be that the seller priced their home based on the values of neighboring homes instead of what they’re selling for.

Working with an experienced real estate agent who understands the current market can help you a lot here.

You have to look beyond the value of a home. You have to consider the community, the local school district, and many other factors. Again, your realtor should already understand these factors and be able to negotiate on your behalf with these in mind.

Homes in the same neighborhood should be similar in price. There will be variance based on things like size, but generally, the features will be similar enough that you can use comparables as a good guide.

Online Estimates Are Lower

Online valuation tools have their flaws, but they’ve gotten significantly more accurate over the past few years.

If you go online and valuation tools value a home lower than the list price, you could be in the danger zone for overpaying.

Of course, you have to keep everything in context, so maybe the kitchen is recently remodeled, in which case the home might have a bit of a higher value.

The Listing Price is Similar to Homes No Longer on the Market

This red flag can take a little more research to figure out but if you’re looking at a home with comps similar to sellers who have taken theirs off the market, keep this in mind.

An agent will have access to homes that were taken off the market. If the asking price on these unsold homes is similar to what you’re looking at, it could be overpriced.

It’s Been on the Market for a Long Time

If a home has been on the market a long time, you could be at risk of overpaying. A home that’s priced too high doesn’t get showings or interest and then doesn’t get offers. You need to think carefully about why other people might be passing on the home.

Of course, if you’re in the situation where you’re in a bidding war, it can be different. You might be at risk of overpaying simply because you’re caught up in the emotion and the competitive element. If you’re going well beyond your budget simply because you end up in a bidding war, it’s probably time to take a step back and reassess.

No matter the value of a home, if you pay more than what you can comfortably afford, then you’ve ultimately overpaid.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

How to Save for a Down Payment While You’re Renting

Rent prices continue to rise throughout the U.S., which creates a disheartening and discouraging scenario for many people.

As of February 1 2022, median rents for one- and two-bedroom units are up 26% since last year.

One-bedroom rentals are at an all-time median high right now.

High rental prices coincide with a housing market that’s overheated. Demand, inflation, and reductions in home construction have led to record-setting home prices. Potential homebuyers are being priced out, requiring them to stay in the rental market, putting pressure on rent prices.

For renters, it can seem like a difficult cycle to break—how can you save for a down payment when such a large chunk of your income is going toward rent? Homeownership feels unattainable for a large portion of the population.

It’s decidedly not an easy issue to work your way out of, but it is possible.

Figure Out What You Need

The first thing you can do is start to crunch the numbers. If you have a concrete number for the down payment you need, it will be easier to work toward your goals. If you don’t have a plan in mind or a set number to work toward, you’re going to feel scattered, and it will be much harder to get out of the rent cycle.

The down payment will depend on the type of loan you hope to get and where you plan to buy.

There are mortgages with a down payment as low as 3%, giving you opportunities to save up in a shorter period of time.

You may have to pay for private mortgage insurance if you don’t put down 20%, however.

You have to think about other costs that you’ll need upfront money for to buy a home. These costs include closing fees and the costs of moving.

Open a Dedicated Down Payment Savings Account

Once you have a concrete number in mind and have explored the mortgage options available to you, and know which you’d like to ultimately get, you can create a savings account. This account will only be for your down payment and nothing else.

It should be liquid but separate from anything else so that you aren’t tempted to spend the money in it.

Deal with Debt

You’re going to need to find ways to cut costs if you want to put more money aside to buy a house. Cutting your debt is going to be one way to do that.

If you have a balance on a credit card with a high interest rate, you might try to do a balance transfer. You can transfer the expensive debt to a card with a zero-percent interest period.

If buying a house is your goal, try not to add any more debt during this time.

To qualify to get a mortgage, you’ll have to meet the debt-to-income requirement.

Find Ways to Cut Back

It’s hard to give things up, but if you’re putting a fair amount of money into your rent, there’s not a lot you can do about that unless you’re willing to move.

You’ll have to find other ways you can cut your costs. That might mean skipping meals out or delivery food or going through your subscriptions to see what you can eliminate.

Think About Moving

We mentioned moving above, and you may not be willing or able to do it, but if you can, cutting down on what you’re paying for rent is one of the best ways to have more money to put toward a down payment.

If you can’t move to a smaller or less expensive home, you might try to renegotiate your lease with your landlord, or you could get a roommate. If you can move, along with getting a smaller place, another option is to move outside of the center city area, if you live there currently. Typically, the further out you move from the central area of your town or city, the lower the rent.

Explore Assistance Programs

Finally, many mortgage lenders have programs and loans for first-time homebuyers that cover part or all of a down payment. There are also grants, which require you to complete a homebuyer education course before you get the financial assistance.

If you work in certain fields, like as a first responder or teacher, homebuying assistance programs are often available.

A lot of lenders are looking to reach out to underserved communities to help them make homeownership a reality, so make sure to explore everything that’s out there.

Position Realty: 480-213-5251

What Sellers Should Know About Pets and Showings

Buyers and their agents need to feel welcome to look at the property at their leisure without danger or distractions. So while you adore your sweet-tempered pit bull rescue, he could turn territorial, barking and growling at potential homebuyers. And it could cost you the opportunity to sell your home.

Think of buyers as guests and work to make them feel comfortable as they consider your home for purchase. If you have a protective dog or one that isn’t well-trained, drop her off at doggie day care when you know your home is going to be shown. Or call a pet sitter on call who can take your pet for a long walk while your home is being shown.

If you must leave the dog at home, don’t expect real estate professionals to handle your dog. They are not dog trainers and should not be expected to risk a dog bite to show your home to buyers. This is where crate-training can be a huge advantage. At least your dog is secured and more inclined to relax while your home is being shown.

What you should not do is leave your dog loose in the backyard. Not only does the buyer not have access to part of the property, but your dog could bark so much that the din drives the buyer out of the house. Also, don’t leave your dog at the neighbor’s. It’s just as bad if the buyer believes a noisy dog lives next door.

Housecats can also repel buyers. Most homes aren’t designed with a convenient place for the litter box, so cat owners do the best they can. Owners get used to the smells of catboxes and fishy foods, which could be offensive to buyers who don’t have cats.

While buyers aren’t afraid of being cat-attacked, cats can still be startling — they appear silently without warning and they jump on furniture and counters. And if you’ve taught your cat to jump on your shoulders, you can imagine what could happen to an unsuspecting buyer.

Exotic pets can be showing-stoppers, too. Birds are gorgeous, but a puffed-up screeching cockatoo can be intimidating and dangerous. Imagine a buyer bringing small children who can’t resist sticking their fingers in the cage and quickly get rewarded with a nasty bite from a very strong beak.

When you’re selling a home, keep in mind that the first two weeks on the market are crucial. That’s the time you want your home to be pristine and move-in ready. You don’t want any noise, smells or stains that could put buyers off.

Sell your home faster and for more money by making your home as inviting and accessible as possible, so that buyers have no barriers to overcome. Accessibility to your home is just as important as price, condition and location.

Position Realty: 480-213-5251

Seller’s Disclosures: What Does a Seller Have to Reveal?

If you’re making an offer on a house, one of the first things you’ll get as far as documentation is a property disclosure. This is also referred to as a property disclosure statement, a real estate disclosure form, and a home disclosure.

The specifics vary by state, but most states require some type of seller disclosure.

The goal is to add transparency to the transaction process.

In a disclosure, a seller provides written information about known things that could impact the property’s value, like termite damage or a leaky roof. The disclosure will also include details like the homeowners’ association fees and restrictions.

These documents are meant to provide buyers with a comprehensive overview of the property before buying it.

On the seller’s side, the disclosure has the benefit of helping them avoid a future lawsuit if a new owner discovers hidden information.

The Basics

A seller typically fills out a standard disclosure form with yes or no questions about their property. The form will also have space for more details and explanations.

Some states have multiple versions of a disclosure form that comply with state law.

A real estate agent should fully understand the legal requirements for disclosures. If you’re a seller, your listing agent will provide you with the right documents that you fill out. Your agent should help you go through the completed forms if you’re a buyer.

The disclosure isn’t a replacement for a home inspection, but it might bring to light issues that you have an inspector take a closer look at.

Disclosures only require sellers to share the issues with the house that they’re aware of. There’s still the potential for there to be hidden problems.

A purchase offer will have a deadline for sellers to provide disclosures and details on the number of days a buyer has to review them.

Then, the offer should also have details on the buyer’s right to change their mind or back out based on the disclosures.

What’s Included?

Seller’s disclosure requirements, as mentioned, vary depending on your state. Some of the common issues they often include are:

  • Leaks or roof problems
  • Previous flooding or water leaks in the basement
  • Foundation cracks or defects
  • Issues with the air conditioning, heating, or plumbing systems
  • Defects in doors, floors, walls, or windows
  • Sewer or septic system problems
  • Infestations by wood-destroying insects or damage
  • Unsafe conditions related to lead, asbestos, or radon
  • Boundary disputes

Federal Requirements

While most disclosure guidelines are set at the state level, under federal law, if you’re selling a home built before 1978, you have to disclose that paint may be lead-based. 1978 is the year lead-based paint was banned for consumer use.

A seller of a home built before 1978 would also have to give buyers an EPA pamphlet about protecting their family from lead in the house and give buyers ten days to do a paint inspection or risk assessment for lead-based paint.

What to Look for In a Disclosure

If you’re a buyer, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the seller’s disclosure, and again, this is where a good agent can help you. If you aren’t sure about anything, don’t be afraid to ask.

One issue to watch for is mold or water damage.

Termite damage is another red flag. If termites aren’t taken care of, it can significantly impact a home’s structure, and a homeowner’s policy often won’t cover this damage.

Some states require that sellers identify if their property is part of a FEMA-designated floodplain. If this isn’t required in your state, you should look into it independently.

What Does Caveat Emptor Mean?

Finally, caveat emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware.” In real estate, this means that it’s up to the buyer to be fully aware of any issues with the home.

If the disclosure laws in your state don’t require the seller to mention something, you have to figure it out on your own.

The only times you would have recourse as a buyer is if the seller intentionally sought to defraud you.

In general, it’s up to buyers to have a home inspected and follow up on issues before the transaction goes through.

Position Realty: 480-213-5251

Renting? You’re Still Paying a Mortgage…Just Not Your Own

For those who invest in real estate, cash flow is king. Investors considering buying a rental property take into account how much rent can be charged compared to ownership costs. Those costs can include a mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance. If the expected rental is more than that, the property will cash flow. Otherwise, it’s an expense and the investor is likely to move on to another property. There are also some tax incentives for real estate investors.

For renters, they need to consider how much they can comfortably afford each month for housing and utilities. Lenders typically view about one-third of gross monthly income should be used as a general rule of affordability. As rent is paid each month, the investor takes that cash and pays the mortgage with it. In essence, you are paying a mortgage, just a mortgage that belongs to someone else.

For first time buyers, getting financing can be a bewildering process for some. There’s lots of documents that need to be signed and reviewed. Lenders need to make sure you have enough funds on hand for a down payment, closing costs and leftover cash reserves. Credit is reviewed as is employment and income. But it doesn’t need to be an intimidating process. That’s also where a good loan officer comes into play, to walk with you side-by-side from initial prequalification to the settlement table.

Most renters will ultimately end up owning at some point in the future. In the long run, owning compared to renting makes sense in a lot of ways. In today’s interest rate market where rates are low compared to areas where rents are steadily increasing, it’s ultimately cheaper to own compared to renting.

Renters may have a goal of owning but not sure how to get there and when. They realize renting is not a long term solution, but their current situation makes it better to rent than own. Someone that is short term for example is probably a better renting candidate compared to someone with the intent to keep the property for the long haul.

It’s usually at this stage where renters first begin to get the urge to explore buying. They can do their own research online to get an idea on where rates are and even run a few mortgage calculators to see what monthly payments might be. Yet it’s important at this point to stop flying solo and contact an experienced loan officer. If you don’t know of anyone in the mortgage business, your real estate agent can point you in the right direction as well as friends, family and co-workers.

Your loan officer will provide you with an approximate qualifying loan amount for starters. This prequalification takes into account your gross monthly income and expenses and at some point, your credit report will be pulled along with credit scores. Your loan officer will give you an estimated amount for a down payment and associated closing costs. It’s a lot easier to be an owner than you might think. Maybe if you’re asking these questions, it’s time to get your own mortgage and stop paying for someone else’s.

Position Realty
(480) 213-5251

What is the Hardest Part of Buying a House?

Everyone experiences things differently, and that includes buying a house. You may think one element or purchasing a home is hard, while someone else could find another more challenging.

With that being said, in general, the following are some of the things many people say are most difficult when they’re buying a home.

Home Price

Home prices have been soaring since the pandemic. Homeowners say even after they’re able to purchase a property, when they look back on the experience, the prices were the most challenging part of everything.

In certain markets currently, major bidding wars are going on, especially for starter homes but often for properties across all budget ranges. There’s a limited inventory of homes, people are afraid to sell because they don’t know if they’ll find something else, and mortgage rates remain at record lows. All of these factors can make it feel impossible to buy a home.

The Paperwork

When you decide to buy a home, you may find the paperwork most challenging, although how hard this is depends on the type of loan you’re applying for and your job and financial situation.

For example, if you’re self-employed, the paperwork and loan process itself can be more difficult. You’ll have to show several years of tax returns and bank statements, just to start.

As you’re waiting to finalize the loan, you may find that it creates a lot of anxiety. Your loan often isn’t finalized until just a few days before you close. You have to wait in limbo until the last moment, and you may not have a clear idea of what’s happening with it during this time of uncertainty.

The Emotions

You may not realize it until you actually start the process but buying a home can be highly emotional in different ways. You might find yourself falling in love with a house that’s way out of your budget for example, and overspending. When you work with a great realtor, they can help you stay objective so you don’t put yourself in a precarious financial situation because of your emotions.

It’s easy to start to feel overwhelmed and discouraged when you lose out on a house as well.

You overall have to learn how to manage your expectations when you go into the home-buying process. You have to prioritize the most important things and be ready to walk away if something like a bad inspection happens.

Saving for a Down Payment

The down payment is related to the cost of the home you plan to buy, and it’s one of the biggest hurdles to buying a home. It can be incredibly challenging to save for a substantial down payment when you’re already paying rent.

Agreeing

If you’re buying a home with your partner, agreeing might end up being the hardest part for you.

You may have an ideal home in your mind that’s completely different from what they have in mind. You could fall in love with something that your partner says absolutely no to. It can be challenging, but you can void some of these pitfalls by having in-depth discussions about what you both want early on.

Many of the other hardest things about buying a home can be navigated by an experienced real estate agent—that’s what they’re there for—to make things easier on you and bring their expertise to an otherwise stressful situation.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Cleaning Your Home Before Selling? 5 Surfaces to Leave to a Professional

When cleaning your home, it’s easy to begin feeling burdened by all the areas that you’ll have to tackle. This is especially true for those surfaces that just won’t seem to clean up no matter how hard you scrub and wipe. To save yourself some effort, leave this type of work to a professional. With their higher strength cleaning solutions and tools, they’ll be able to make different parts of your home look like new again. The surfaces that are best for professional cleaning, in particular, can be found below.

1. Upholstery

Cleaning your upholstery can help get rid of stains, dirt, and even bad smells. However, many cleaning solutions on the market can damage fabrics and leave them discolored or ruined. When you hire a professional to clean instead, they’ll use gentle yet effective cleaning solutions that will refresh your upholstery beautifully. This can be done on your ottomans, couches, chairs, and even pillows. More importantly, most cleaning companies guarantee their work so you are protected from damage. This is one of the best solutions if you have antique furniture or fabrics that you just need to have deep cleaned.

2. Stone

If the stone in your home, such as the granite or marble on your countertops, is beginning to look worn, then hiring a professional is a great way to go. They will use time-tested cleaning solutions and techniques to carefully clean and seal your surfaces so they are restored to their natural beauty once again. This can even help get rid of scratches, stains, and other signs of wear and tear, making it especially beneficial to the value of your home.

The equipment that professionals have is expensive and difficult to find, so you’ll be saving money by hiring someone instead of taking on the job yourself. What’s even better is the fact that the professionals will do all the work so you can avoid the physical distress that can come with a large stone cleaning job.

3. Tile

Professional tile and grout cleaning can get rid of deep down stains and even make your grout look like new again. While you could try to do this on your own, it would take hours of back-breaking work and it’s very unlikely you’d end up with results that would mimic those of a professional. By hiring an expert, you save time and enjoy the look of new tiles without having to do any renovations in your home.

If you don’t think your tile and grout needs to be cleaned because you sweep and mop often, get down on the ground to take a closer look. Chances are, you’re going to see many areas that are discolored and some that are completely stained. While this can be disheartening if you clean often, professional service can resolve these issues.

4. Windows

Cleaning your home’s exterior windows can be difficult and even dangerous if you have more than one story. When you hire a professional instead, they use special equipment and cleaning solutions to wipe these clean in the safest manner possible. Most companies even include interior window washing in their price, which can make your windows shine like new again.

5. Wood Floors

Regular mopping and sweeping will help keep your wood floors in good condition for years to come. However, even with weekly cleaning, they can begin to fade and look scratched due to daily use. If you want to restore the appearance and overall condition of your hardwood floors, then hiring a professional is crucial. They have the experience that ensures your floors will be deeply cleaned and restored with zero mistakes. In just a short amount of time, their professional techniques will transform your floors with no effort on your part.

Give Yourself a Break

Some surfaces in your home are just better left to professional cleaners. Not only do they know how to carefully treat all types of materials but they also have higher quality machinery and solutions. Their help can make your home shine and save you from unnecessary cleaning throughout the year.

Position Realty
(480) 213-5251

Safety Tips for Showing Your Home

Showing your home is an integral part of the overall process to ultimately sell it. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were concerns about being safe when strangers came to look at your home. Now, with the pandemic continuing, homeowners are even more cautious.

With that in mind, the following are some general safety tips when you show your home, but also some related to COVID-19.

Avoid An Open House

If you’re a seller, you might want to talk to your agent and tell them you don’t want to have any open houses. A lot of real estate agents don’t think they’re beneficial anyway. During an open house, you’re taking a more significant risk than you are if you have scheduled private showings.

During an open house, it’s not only more likely that someone could target your valuables or look around to come back to your home later, but you also have more exposure to people who might be sick.

Have Your Agent Meet with Prospective Buyers First

If you’re feeling nervous and unsure about showings, talk to your agent about potentially meeting with prospective buyers outside of your home in a neutral setting before having an in-home showing. From the perspective of your real estate agent, it might add more work to their job, but at the end of the day, safety is critical.

When you do have showings, you want to make sure, regardless of whether or not your real estate agent met with them beforehand that they’re qualified buyers. You certainly don’t want people coming during a pandemic because they’re window-shopping or they’re just curious or being nosy.

You only want people who are serious about buying a home.

To find qualified buyers, there are various ways to screen them. For example, you or your agent can screen them using only appointments and asking buyers to do a virtual tour before an in-person showing.

Your agent can request a pre-qualification letter before setting a showing date.

Set Up Your Home For Contactless Showing

As far as COVID-19 concerns, if you’re a seller you might request that your real estate agent sets up your home for contactless showings. To do that, your agent might have their own strategies, but recommendations include opening all the doors and cabinets and turning on all the lights. Your agent can also pull all shades so that buyers can see everything without coming in contact with high-touch surfaces.

You can also do these things as a homeowner. Think about the touchpoints throughout your home and how you can help people avoid them when they look at your home.

Sanitize After Showings

It’s a good rule of thumb even outside of COVID-19 to sanitize your home after showings because it’s not the only infectious disease out there. You should wipe surfaces with a disinfecting wipe and do a quick clean.

Put Certain Items Away

There are some items you don’t want to have on display during showings. Your valuables and heirlooms are more obvious, but there are less obvious things to put away. Prescription pain medications are one example. Your mail and bills are other things to put away in preparation for a home showing.

Use Smart Home Technology

Finally, you might consider using smart home security while your home is on the market because this is when it’s especially vulnerable to various threats. Plus, if you add some safety and security features, it can make your home more appealing to buyers. At a minimum, using a smart lockbox is a good idea because it gives you control over who comes into your home no matter where you are.

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