HAVE YOU? NOT ME!
I’ve been a real estate broker since the 1970s, helping literally thousands of people buy and sell homes. I don’t recall anyone buying a home they planned to live in without first seeing it.
I’ll bet you haven’t. I know I haven’t. Do you know anyone who has? I didn’t, until recently.
Something just happened that opened my eyes to what may be the future of real estate… buying homes without seeing them, and selling homes without having to show them.
Let’s see if I can convince you to buy your next home without first seeing it. Or the corollary… not allow anyone to see your current home until they buy it.
In early March, COVID-19 rocked us all. Businesses closed. People stayed home. Sales of most everything plummeted.
Exceptions? Sanitizer sales skyrocketed (made sense). Toilet paper too (I never figured that one out).
Expectedly, home sales dropped. Potential buyers lost jobs, or were worried they would. Sellers didn’t want strangers walking through their home. To make things worse, banks tightened lending standards, making it harder to get a loan.
PEOPLE IN NEED
In spite of COVID, there were homeowners who needed to sell. Some had purchased homes before COVID hit, and couldn’t close on their new home without selling their current home.
There were also buyers who needed to buy, regardless of COVID. Some had sold their home before COVID hit, and needed a place to live. Others had relocated from out of state, and were living in hotels until they found a home. Those buyers became super-anxious to find a home as resorts shut down.
In my 72SOLD system, I have about 100 Realtors in Arizona and 300 across the country. When the seriousness of COVID became apparent in early March, we had a lot of people who desperately needed to sell or buy, in spite of COVID. They told us it would hurt them hugely if they had to wait.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
So we sketched out a program that enabled our sellers to sell and buyers interested in our homes to buy in a COVID-safe way.
BUYING FROM VIDEO
We started taping a comprehensive video showing our homes to prospective buyers just like we were walking them through.
As it turned out, these videos were better than the best live showing because we could record them over and over, then edit them until they were like the “perfect showing.”
Then, after we videoed the home, we recorded short videos (to edit in), highlighting special features like a time-lapse of the sun setting in the backyard, a close, easy to access walking trail, or I remember… we captured an owl hooting under a full moon in a backyard at night (lucky timing).
Our buyers loved the convenience of seeing homes without having to drag around all day (particularly with no restaurants open). Our sellers loved the idea of not having to pick up and get out over and over again for buyers who may not be interested, or cancel at the last minute.
THE MAGIC SAUCE
But I knew it would be hard to break a 100 year ingrained tradition of physically seeing homes before negotiating to buy them. So I changed our purchase contract to not require earnest money until the buyers had the opportunity to physically do an “approval walk-through” (my characterization) the day after they signed the contract.
Shazam! The no earnest money provision broke the barrier. People interested in our homes would look at the photos, watch our video, drive by the home, ask questions, and then try to negotiate price and terms with our sellers, knowing that if they reached agreement they could be the one and only buyer to see the home… knowing that we would cancel the sale if the home wasn’t what they thought it was when they saw it.
In the past two weeks, one of our agents, Teresa Herriot, sold 4 homes without one single showing. All four buyers approved the home during the post-purchase walk-through, and plan to close on time. Our agents are selling more and more homes that way every week.
I don’t see a downside to homes being sold by video with an approval walkthrough the next day. Buyers get to see homes from the comfort of their home. Sellers don’t have the inconvenience of multiple showings to people who have no interest, or won’t pay a fair price. And, this process is a lot easier for Realtors.
Some of the most horrific occurrences in our history produced long-lasting benefits… starting with the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy because of the patriots who fought the Revolutionary War.
Very few things are 100% good or bad. Every silver lining has a cloud, and every cloud has a silver lining… IF we look for it. I hope there are many silver linings discovered in the darkness of COVID-19.
– Greg Hague
“We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”
– Lee Iacocca