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What to expect when buying or selling a home during Covid-19 in Nova Scotia


There is no doubt, we are living in strange times. Many businesses have closed their doors or have pivoted to change the way in which they deliver their products and services. Real estate is one of those industries that is still functioning (albeit much differently). 


Many may wonder why anyone would buy or sell during these uncertain times when the aim is to have less interaction with others. In most cases, the answer is simple; it comes down to necessity.


Many of the buyers we are seeing during this time had already sold their home before the pandemic was declared and require a new place to live. Others have relocated or are looking to quickly downsize. Sellers fall into similar categories; those moving into the area or those looking for more financially feasible investments.


Regardless of the reasoning, how you buy or sell your home is looking much different these days.


While some realtors have chosen to simply back away from the market during this challenging time, others have taken it upon themselves to change the way they are doing business to protect their clients. For those that are still working with clients, this is what they have told us they are doing differently.


What has changed for Sellers


Waivers. Many realtors are working with their clients and real estate lawyers to prepare waivers for any potential buyers to review and sign before entering their home. Simply put, these waivers are in place to prevent buyers showing symptoms of Covid-19 from entering the seller's home.


Showings. Most sellers are limiting in-person showings to serious buyers only. Many are working with their realtors to prepare in-depth virtual showings. These videos use advanced software programming to go above and beyond a standard marketing walk-through video. They allow for precision detail and use 360-degree functionality. These platforms give the viewer a realistic experience of walking through a home. Others are using Zoom or Skype to have in person walk-throughs. In these cases, typically the seller, seller's agent, buyer and buyer's agent are all on the call together. For those sellers that are allowing in-person showings, realtors are working with them to create sanitary stations. These typically include gloves, masks and sanitizers. Realtors are advising their clients to open all doors and turn on all lights before the showing to eliminate extra exposure. 


What has changed for Buyers


Pre-approvals. Many realtors are requiring that potential buyers have a recent mortgage pre-approval in hand before working with them. This allows them to know that the buyer is serious and that there won't be any unnecessary showings.


Online exploration. Realtors are recommending that buyers start their search online in a bigger way than usual. As mentioned above, there are additional resources available for buyers to get a realistic feel for homes through virtual walk-throughs. Once serious about a property, buyers are encouraged to drive by the home to inspect the neighbourhood.


In-person showings. In-person showings may be granted to serious buyers ready to make an offer. In most cases, their agent will not be in the home with them. The precautions listed above would be in place to facilitate this safely.


Home inspections. Many sellers are not allowing buyers to attend the home inspection. As a result, many buyers are waiting outside of the home and discussing the inspection report from a safe distance. Others are facilitating video calls to review the report and any potential problems discovered. 


What has changed for Real Estate Partners?


Mortgage brokers have continued to offer services for clients, frequently by video call or safe social distancing methods. Keep in mind that you may require a bit more time to coordinate your lending details. Many financial institutions are overrun with financial relief programs and are sometimes taking longer than usual to process requests.

Real Estate Law offices are also still offering services to facilitate closings. Many clients are meeting with their lawyers via video conference and signing documents using safe social distancing methods.


All in all, the process for buying and selling your home during the time of Covid-19 looks a lot different but isn't impossible. In fact, March stats actually show a slight increase in new listings, pending sales and closed sales over the past two years.

If you have any questions about buying or selling during these times, or how we, here at Scotia Law, are equipped to safely facilitate your sale or purchase, please don't hesitate to reach out!

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