It’s May! Usually by this time, the Spring real estate market is well underway as everyone wants to be settled into their dream Cape home by the summer. Flowers are blossoming, I’m yelling at people doing the Bloom Run (don’t worry, it’s my parents), and all of my buyers are patiently enduring my lecture about putting in competitive offers on the limited number of homes in their price range.
Alas, this spring season is a bit different. The unfolding pandemic has canceled whatever plans we had, and it makes projecting out the rest of the year tricky at best.
Real estate, though, never stops. Typically, that’s more a curse than a positive, as I debate answering emails at 1:00 am. But in this case, I take it as a good thing: a small semblance of normalcy in an otherwise upside-down reality.
For local people, this is a great opportunity to look for homes with less competition than the standard spring market; for second- and vacation-homeowners, this might be the moment that *the* perfect house gets listed after years of searching. Whatever the case, it is still possible to look at the places you’re interested in -- given a little bit of planning and creativity, and an abundance of caution.
I know, looking at houses is the most fun you can have for no money. In an era of FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s hard to pull the trigger when you feel like you haven’t seen absolutely every potential home -- no matter how remote the chance of it being the one. The National Association of Realtors is reporting that buyers are seeing an average of just 3 houses before putting in an offer, down from nine last year! So, get really specific about what makes your perfect Cape house. If you’re set on a certain town, number of bedrooms, or distance to the beach, now’s the time to let go of those super-iffy-maybe houses on your list that you know aren’t really a good fit.
To the Cloud
I *know*, you’re staying home and not casually cruising to the Cape to look at houses, so how are you supposed to know which ones aren’t a good fit? Technology, to the rescue! Most listing agents are now including video or virtual tours of the house in addition to pictures and (hopefully) floor plans. If you’re not seeing that listed, there’s a good chance I have access to it through the MLS. As a local resident, I’m also happy to do some recon for you in the form of your own personalized video tours, complete with my (priceless) color commentary. That should be enough to give you a feel for which houses are duds and which ones are worth seeing in person.
Safety first, friends
For those of you who are in a position to do showings in the flesh, protocol is a little different these days. If normally you’d roll up with the whole crew (see #1), edit the list of attendees down to the decision makers. Four or five people -- your Realtor included -- is the largest group allowed at most showings now. You can expect the listing agent to wait outside, and that you’ll be asked to wear a mask and gloves. You might also be asked to remove your shoes or wear shoe covers, especially if the sellers are in residence, and to limit touching door knobs and furniture once inside. (You’ll also see me, Clorox-wiping everything as you move through the house. Five-star service over here, amirite? )
House hunting can be overwhelming and uncertain under the best of circumstances: it’s a lot of information, and decisions to make, not to mention money (YOUR money!) on the line. And right now, we are a long way from the best of anything. The good news is, you’re still in charge here, and you don’t have to do anything that you’re not comfortable with. If that means waiting a few months and seeing how things shake out, so be it. If you’re on a set timeline and absolutely have to buy, we’ll take all the precautions needed for you to be safe and feel confident moving through the process of buying your own piece of Cape Cod.
Whatever you decide, we’re here to support you. If you want to talk it out, or send me questions or general concerns, go ahead. Even if it’s one in the morning….I’ll still be up, answering emails.