As the nation navigates through the coronavirus pandemic, we’re called to adjust our lifestyle and business practices in accordance with the guidelines set forth by our government and healthcare systems. The safety of our community hinges on the actions we take right now. At Andersen Group Realty, we’re pivoting to do what’s necessary while continuing to help our clients meet their essential housing needs. Here’s how we’re operating:
Consultations and Appointments:
We are able to conduct virtual consultations with buyers and sellers, both locally and across the country. These “socially-distant” meetings have proven just as effective as their in-person counterparts. Prospective buyers and sellers will complete an initial electronic questionnaire, an assessment we use to 1) understand needs and motivations, and 2) tailor our process to each individual. Once the questionnaire has been completed Andersen Group Realty will follow up to schedule a live virtual consultation via Zoom, and/or a pre-recorded, digitally published presentation.
Realtors’ ability to show properties and conduct open houses has been greatly impacted by social distancing, stay-at-home orders and government bans. In order to serve the essential housing needs of our clients while keeping everyone safe, we have developed a carefully thought-out process.
All Andersen Group Realty properties have a 3D virtual tour as well as a video walkthrough that allow interested Buyers to really envision themselves in the home. Buyers are able to see the layout of the home and, using the interactive 3D tour, can walk through it floor by floor at their speed. Our virtual mapping software also allows consumers to take digital measurements of each room to ensure furniture will fit, a feature that provides Buyers comfort and peace of mind.
For Buyers who wish to schedule an in-person “no-touch” showing in order to make an informed purchase decision, we have specific safety measures in place. Prior to any showing of one of our listings, we ensure that the Buyer has viewed the home virtually via 3D virtual tour and/or video walkthrough has conducted a driveby of the home and neighborhood. During the in-person showing, all parties (Buyers, Sellers, Agents) must abide by the following safety precautions:
- Seller will leave all lights on, open some windows for ventilation, and open all interior doors so that Buyers do not need to touch anything while in the home.
- Buyers will use the masks, gloves, and shoe covers provided before entering the home.
- Buyers will not open or close any doors, drawers, or cabinets, and Buyers will not touch surfaces of banisters, handles, or other commonly touched places while inside the home.
- Buyers will take their mask, gloves and shoe covers with them upon departure for off-site disposal.
- Buyers and Agents will practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet apart from each other while touring the home.
If the homeowner wishes to restrict all forms of in-person showings, Andersen Group Realty will exercise their creativity in the language for offers (e.g., offer subject to Buyer’s ability to view the property in person).
Nearly all paperwork required in our real estate transactions (aside from some documents needed for the closing) can be completed electronically. We have the ability to share documents with clients and partners across the globe for electronic signatures via our digital signature platform. For paperwork requiring a “wet” handwritten signature or a notary: Andersen Group Realty can arrange for a mobile notary to meet with clients, ensuring all safety precautions and social distancing measures are taken during the signing.
Lenders now allow “desktop appraisals” for certain types of loans, a convenient option to get a property appraised without the need for an appraiser to physically enter the home. For transactions requiring an in-person appraisal, clients will leave the home temporarily while the appraisal is conducted, and appraisers are required to abide by standard COVID-19 safety protocol.
Fortunately, most inspection companies are still operating, albeit cautiously, with new protocols in place, and on a case-by-case basis. A home inspection process with Andersen Group Realty will require the following:
- Inspectors will wear plastic gloves and shoe covers during the inspection. If Client would like Inspector to wear a mask, please let our office staff know ahead of time.
- Clients will wear masks, plastic gloves and shoe covers, if possible. (AGR can provide all items if needed).
- Inspectors will disinfect any and all areas they touch.
- The number of inspection attendees will be kept to a minimum
- Attendees will practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet apart from each other during the inspection.
- Inspectors will be available for conferencing after the inspection, should a client be unable to attend the inspection.
With the help of our trusted colleagues and partners in the mortgage and legal fields we have successfully completed all scheduled closings following the outbreak of COVID-19. As the spread of the pandemic pushed the industry into unfamiliar territory, we’ve been able to shift quickly to find digital closing solutions for our clients. This includes things such as electronic signatures and ensuring that all involved parties follow health and safety guidelines and best practices.
Most fire departments have stopped non-emergency smoke inspections. As such, mortgage companies have started to allow closings to take place under certain conditions. For example, they may require that all parties sign an indemnification form with a “holdback,” which will be released when the smoke detector certificate is secured.
Because Massachusetts does not allow online notary, Buyers are still required to sign mortgage documents in person. Until the pending Remote Online Notarization legislation passes, all notarized documents must be signed in person. Like Andersen Group Realty, many attorney offices and real estate companies will accommodate a notary to meet with clients to sign required documents (while adhering to social distancing guidelines). We have even conducted “curbside closings,” enabling the client to stay in their car while the closing attorney — with a mask and gloves, of course — conducts the closing from outside.
Aside from Nantucket, all Massachusetts Registry of Deeds currently allow electronic document recording. Of note: be sure the closing attorney with whom you are working is willing to conduct electronic recording. You can click here to check for changes in the Registry status.
If your registry ceases to process electronic closings and the closing attorney can secure GAP insurance from their title Insurance companies, the closing can still occur fully funded. This GAP insurance allows new owners to move into the property during the “gap” in time between the closing and the sale officially going on record with the registry of deeds.
Although many town offices are closed and you may not have access to municipal lien certificates, they can be estimated, and a holdback may still be possible so that the closing can occur.
Ultimately, we highly recommend that you speak with your mortgage company and closing attorney regarding the closing process, as each transaction is unique.