One of the most common questions among home sellers during this crisis is, ‘Should I take my home off the market?’ We understand that in times of fear and uncertainty the first instinct is to pull back. However, if your goal is to sell your home in 2020, there are a number of reasons why de-listing right now will be counterproductive.
Believe It Or Not, There Is Still A Market
We are several days into the Stay-At-Home order for Illinois (with Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin now following suit), and we are actually still seeing homes go under contract. Negotiations are taking place, and buyers and sellers are coming to terms, oftentimes attaching a “COVID-19 Addendum” to the contract to protect the parties in the event of extended delays. Granted, it’s a small segment of the active market, but it is happening…unless, of course, a seller’s home is no longer for sale. So, the opportunity to actually strike a deal is one of the best reasons to stay in the game.
Buyers Have Deadlines
Another reason for sellers to keep their homes actively listed is that there are many buyers out there who simply have to move in the coming months. Reasons range from job transfers to kids starting school to having to vacate a current residence because of a sale or lease expiration.
These buyers, who were ready to go at the start of spring, will re-enter the market as soon as possible. For now, they are searching online, communicating with their agents and mortgage brokers, and actively seeking out virtual tours.
Online Activity Is Increasing
As a result of the crisis, people are spending more time in front of their screens. At the moment, they may be focused on news, but if they were conducting a home search prior to the outbreak, eventually their attention will be drawn back to real estate.
Staying in front of homebuyers as they consume more media will only benefit sellers when the market ramps up again. This means having an active presence on home search portals, in targeted banner ad campaigns, on social media, and via direct-marketing campaigns like e-blasts. Additionally, virtual showing technology is coming to the fore. Buyers and sellers are quickly discovering the ease and accuracy with which homes can be viewed absent a physical tour.
Sellers Will Get A Break On Market Time
Market time (how many days a home has been listed) has always been an important variable in home sales. Listings with shorter market times tend to generate more interest and excitement. However, recognizing that almost every active listing will have extended market time as a result of the crisis, the Chicago Association of REALTORS and Illinois’ largest multiple listing service have made two important changes:
- Sellers are no longer required to show ACTIVE listings. So, if a seller isn’t comfortable with in-person showings for the next several weeks, their agent can add language to this effect. Any realtor would see that language and immediately “write off” that market time.
- Listings marked “TEMP” (Temporarily Off Market), will not accrue market time. Sellers should note that TEMP listings will not show up in searches for ACTIVE listings and may not be visible on some home search portals.
The removal of negative perceptions around longer market times and TEMP listings is another reason for sellers to stay active.
Things Will Get Better
We don’t know exactly how long this crisis is going to last, but we do know it will end. We know that massive stimulus is on the way. We know that interest rates will be low for the foreseeable future. We know that area home prices are perceived as a relative value. We also know this crisis will create pent-up demand.
At this moment, real estate agents are communicating with their clients more than ever. They are counseling their clients – each individual buyer and seller – to do what is right for them given their specific situation. In most cases, that advice comes down to three words: stay the course.
And homeowners who maintain a presence in the market and who use available resources and technologies to showcase their homes in the best possible light will benefit the most when the market gets going again.