Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.

The Caswell Team

The Caswell Team

Selling During COVID19 Crisis

Selling During COVID-19

 

As you've heard by numerous people, these are unprecedented times.  Almost unbelievable, really.  In response to this, we have created two new pages on our site dedicated to explaining Buying and Selling during these unique and challenging times.  This page explores the Selling side of the process and you can jump over to the Buying side of the process here.

We continue to encourage those that do not have an urgent need to sell their property to hang tight.  But we're cognizant of the fact that the market will always be in motion and are here to help at anytime.

We have broken this page down into various parts outlining significant changes to the process, how we will ensure you're protected throughout your sale from start to finish and have included a section specific to general selling groups. 

Be advised this is a generalized discussion, but every situation, including yours, is unique and the entire process will be customized to suit your specific situation.  Further, as the situation remains fluid, we will continue to update these COVID-19 pages as changes occur.

 

Changes to the Process

 

Selling your property has never been this complex.  It used to be simple - sign the agreement, do some sprucing up, get some great photos for marketing and then open the doors to let potential buyers flood in to view.  Those days are gone, currently, and possibly for a longer term than we are all hoping.

 

This doesn't mean you can't sell, it just means we have to change the strategy away from the models we've all become so familiar with.  We've outlined these changes below to help you be more informed as to how you want to proceed.

 

Your Comfort Level

 

As we said above, busting the doors wide open for potential buyers to view is no longer possible.  But you're not selling a trinket on Amazon or Ebay where the buyer won't really care if your product doesn't work when they get it.  Your selling something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that a buyer will definitely want to see.

 

How comfortable are you with people entering your home these days?  Do you trust they've answered any questions truthfully that they aren't feeling ill or haven't been traveling?  With social distancing rules in place, are you ok that the buyer's Realtor® may not be able to keep everyone in their line of sight during a viewing?  Will you know everything they've touched, where they may have sneezed or if they covered their mouth during a cough?

We encourage you to heavily weigh your need to sell at this moment against your comfort level of the questions above.  If you don't have to sell right at this moment, we suggest you sit tight.  You can still reach out to us at anytime to get prepared to sell when the time is right.  We can do a virtual Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) while you walk us through the property, we can provide some guidance for you to use during this period of self-isolation to get your property showroom ready, we'll stay in contact with updated changes to the market conditions and we can be ready to hit the ground running when the market starts to come back online.

Even if you're not comfortable with the comments above, but you feel you have no choice, we can still go about it the right way to make sure we minimize any potential health threats to you, your family or your tenants.

 

Questionnaires

 

We are seeing a slew of makeshift questionnaires being posted on listings these days.  We use the term makeshift as there is no standardized format and each brokerage, franchise and even Realtors® are making them up on the fly.  They ask the basic "COVID-19 Protocols" questions about no one entering the property is feeling ill, no one has traveled, they don't believe they've come in contact, etc.

We know there are asymptomatic carriers out there.  No one can possibly be sure they don't have it.  If they do, and you get it, these questionnaires have no legal basis for you to pursue them.  Some people will lie because they can.

Questionnaires are your choice as a seller.  We can't force a buyer to sign it and we don't have access to a lie detector test.  But if they give you peace of mind knowing they've answered the questions prior to viewing, then we'd be happy to request this prior to showings.

 

Accepted Offer Before Viewing

 

Another strategy we're currently seeing being deployed on some listings.  This is a horrible play and could absolutely railroad your chances of selling entirely, let alone maximizing the sale price.  Either these sellers aren't receiving competent advice or they're disregarding the advice they should be getting.

Why would you want a buyer to submit an offer before they've even seen the property?  If the buyer can only see it conditional on viewing the property, do you really believe they're not going to try to renegotiate after they see it?  When a buying agent calls and asks if there's been any offers, we would have to say something like, "yes, we've had eight, but all feel apart.  One didn't like the layout, one thought the dining room was too small, one didn't realize the bedroom downstairs was attached to the sauna", etc.

This is an absolute waste of your time.  If buyers cannot access your property to view prior to putting in an offer, you are not in a serious enough position to be listing your property right now.

It is very important to remember that Agreements of Purchase and Sale are legally binding contracts and you will be bound to the terms and conditions within the document and you will be required to fulfill your obligations within it.

 

Can't Touch This

 

We are encouraging our sellers to make sure buyers and their Realtor® don't have to touch anything during the showing.  This includes leaving all the lights on throughout the entire house and making sure all interior doors are open, including closets.  We also will ask anyone entering the property to not use the washrooms or test any faucets, toilets or showers during their visit.

We are encouraging sellers to leave hand sanitizer and/or wipes available and easily accessible for anyone coming in to view.

Sellers should take all necessary steps to thoroughly sanitize the property after all property visits, including counters, railings, handles and the door used for entry and exit.

 

Scheduled Time Slots

 

Because of our suggestion above to complete a full sanitization of the property after showings, the best idea might be to schedule time slots in where we have multiple showings lined up to occur one after another while you take a walk to get some fresh air.  This way you can do one sanitization after all the showings before you get settled back in.

 

Photos/Virtual Tours

 

Photos use to be used as marketing to drive traffic into your listing.  Then virtual tours were an upgrade so people could walk through your property before determining whether they wanted to book a tour or stop in at the Open House on Sunday.

In today's new world order, photos and virtual tours are of even greater importance as more and more buyers narrow their top prospects further based on them.  It is imperative that we work together to get these done.  Of course, this goes back to your comfort level.

If you don't want anyone to come over for professional photos and to do a virtual tour, we can help in walking you through the home while you create a quality photo shoot, we can use screen shots from our virtual walk through and we can even record our virtual walk through and dub in commentary afterwards to showcase the aspects of the home.

 

Open Houses

 

Open houses are completely off the radar.  They have been declared non-essential and are forbidden by the Ontario Government during this crisis.

But this doesn't mean we can't have one!  You can get the house looking spiffy and be behind the camera for us while we walk through the house on an open chat forum with potential buyers.  Instead of a straight video of the property, this allows us to have you move to different locations in the house at anytime and focus in on anything the buyer is asking questions about.

We can even do this as a way of a "private showing" for potential buyers while we conference call with them instead of using an open forum.

 

Tenants

 

If you're considering listing your income property, we highly suggest you wait until the dust has settled.  With the Landlord Tenant Board being closed and no tenant can be evicted during this time, you run the risk of souring your relationship with your tenants very quickly by telling them people will be entering their unit for showings, inspections, etc.

Yes, you have a legal right to enter their unit for showings with appropriate notice.  But you have no way to enforce this right now with the LTB offline.  When the relationship goes south, and the tenant decides to stop paying you rent, this situation can become a big financial risk and long term headache for you.

If you must list the property for financial reasons, we ask that you discuss the situation with the tenants.  If they seem to be cooperative, we can take over from there and use a "proceed with extreme caution" approach to get your property sold with as minimal impact to the tenants, and your revenue stream, as possible.

 

Online Marketing

 

We have our hands into all kinds of online marketing to help get the exposure your listing deserves.  Through social media channels, the MLS™ system and our direct marketing to buyers, we'll get your property to market in a virtual way.

Currently, we're seeing a trend of agents listing properties and sharing it on their social media platforms long before they advertise it on MLS™.  Sellers may think these agents have done a great job, but the agent actually put their own interests ahead of the sellers by not exposing the listing to the entire Sudbury Real Estate Board and the general public all at once.  We actually find this practice completely shameful and a black eye on the entire industry.

We market your property to everyone, all at once.  We don't give any buyers, including our own, early access so your listing gets full exposure to the entire market.

 

Commercial/Leased Showings

 

You may already be seeing indications that your current lessee might have issues

 

Handling of Offers

 

Like the Listing Agreement and other documentation we needed signed at the start, all offers will be handled electronically with digital signatures.  No agents will come present the offer to you and we can get on the phone or video chat to go over the offer and make necessary changes in real time before you sign.

 

Inspections

 

There are some home inspectors who continue to operate during this time.  And most buyers will be requesting one these days due to the limited access for viewing the property and they'll likely rely heavily on the report.

However, the home inspectors that are operating will only do an inspection with no one else on the property.  This includes you, your family and/or your tenants.

Inspections will normally take 2-3 hours, so you would have to take appropriate steps to be out of the property for that period of time.

 

Removal of Conditions

 

It is important to remind you that, upon removal of conditions, you are legally bound to fulfill your obligations under the contract to complete the sale regardless of any changes to your personal circumstances.

We have to make sure, with 100% certainty, that you are prepared to close on your sale and you are comfortable with the offer becoming firm and binding before we take this step.

 

Closing Process

 

The closing process has undergone significant changes and new State of Emergency clauses have been designed to ensure closing occurs.

You will no longer sign in-person with your lawyer.  All signings for closing documents are being done virtually with the lawyer visually identifying you through an online vidoe platform and witnessing you electronically sign the documents while on the video call with them.  You must have the capabilities to complete these video calls and electronic signatures.

The new State of Emergency clauses include statements that you are allowing lawyers to close the deal electronically, as noted above, and that you agree to an extension of closing if any issues arise from financial institutions or title registration delays that may occur as the situation evolves.  You will still be bound to close, but closing may occur much later than what was originally agreed upon between yourself and the buyer.  This circumstance may create a difficult situation if you've already committed to closing your buy, can't serve notice to tenants or, in the case of commercial, made business commitments for ceasing operations or paying out financing.

 

In a Nut Shell

 

If you've ever sold property before, you can see that the current situation is quite different from what you're used to.  If this is your first listing experience, it is completely different than what you would remember when you bought it.  The situation has become much more complex than what it was only a month ago, so it's important you know the process and have us guide you through it properly.

How long with these changes last?  Who knows.  Hopefully not long for obvious reasons outside of real estate, but some of these changes may actually become the new normal moving forward.

Repeating what we opened with, if you are not currently in duress with your housing situation, we are encouraging you to sit tight and make informed and methodical decisions.

As the situation is changing day-to-day, it's hard to predict what outside influences could be created that could better your selling situation or damage your ability to close.  We believe that there may be huge incentives on the horizon to help get the market and economy moving on the backside of the health crisis portion that you may miss taking advantage of buying while the focus is on health and not on the economy.  On the other side, the essential services roster is continuing to change and your employment status could change overnight severely impacting your ability to get financing for a contract you're legally bound to.

 

Different Seller Ideas & Concepts

 

Before we get right into the different seller categories, we want to make sure you understand we are not judgemental.  We know there are people who won't be impacted financially by COVID-19, we know there will be some who will see heavy damage to their financial situation and there will be others who will look at this as an opportunity to upgrade and invest.  It's our duty to help you no matter what your considerations are and deal with your unique circumstances.

It's important to note that someone may be looked at as "taking advantage of others" while they could also be looked as the person who bought the property that helped to get a family out of financial duress.  We want both sides to come out of this with the best possible scenario for them.

Regardless, all movement in the real estate market helps everyone.  There are so many moving parts to a real estate purchase that creates movement of money within our community that, in turn, is money these service providers spend in the community and it all helps to stimulate the economic engine.

We don't judge, we help.  And it's our responsibility to keep all clients informed as to their circumstances.

 

Financial Hardship

 

Maybe you were already noticing things were a little tight after Christmas.  Or maybe you've been laid off with no end in sight and the mortgage payments are causing enormous stress to your finances.

First and foremost, we recommend you contact your lender and discuss the option for mortgage deferrals.  Even if you still know you're going to have to sell for financial reasons, this will give you some time to make decisions without feeling like you're under the gun.  This will give us time to work on the right game plan for you by analyzing the right time to hit the market, where you're going to move to and anything else that needs review to make this transition easier for you.

If you think it's just a matter of buying time and you'll be fine, you can also look at refinancing at the record low interest rates.  This may reduce your mortgage payments to a point where you're more comfortable moving forward.

But, if you're feeling as though it has to happen now, contact us immediately to discuss your options.

 

Downsizing Sellers

 

You may have already been considering downsizing prior to the crisis or maybe you're starting to think you'd rather have some extra money in the bank for emergencies with a lower mortgage payment, we've got you covered.

As we've said, if you're not in immediate distress, we'd recommend you sit tight for now in terms of listing.  The market has shown a severe decline in sales and it will likely sit there for the short term at least.  Sure, you could probably maximize your value with the limited listings out there, but you're also looking to buy in that same market.

Buying and selling is tricky in any market conditions.  These conditions are so unique that tricky just got trickier.  Take the time to review our Buying During COVID-19 page and then connect with us so we can put together the right game plan for downsizing.

 

Upsizing Sellers

 

We are predicting that there will be great opportunities upcoming to upgrade your home.  Maybe you were already feeling squeezed in during the family Christmas dinners or you've just started thinking that the current situation may create an opportunity for you to upgrade to an even better home than you thought you could have.  You could be in a very good position moving forward.

It's our belief that there will be a considerable amount of higher end properties that come to market due to financial struggles that are happening out there.  And you may be currently in a home that will be in a very high-demand buying bracket.

Like others, we'd recommend you consider sitting in place while we wait to see what changes may occur over the next few weeks.  In the interim, be sure to check out our Buying During COVID-19 page and make sure we get in contact right away to get the process started and be ready to act when the timing is right.

 

Multi-Family - Personal Use or Investor

 

No matter what your reasoning is to sell, you have to be prepared for a challenge in selling your income property these days.  This doesn't mean we can't, we simply suggest you do it only if absolutely necessary.

As we mentioned above, tenants will be a major issue.  Tenants are declining access to units, not able to pay rent and putting added wear 'n tear on their unit having to stay isolated in it for so long.  All the while you have no way to enforce missed rents, evictions or even access for showings.

The other thing to consider is that we predict there will be an even greater demand for rental units in the not-to-distance future.  You may be feeling some short term pain at the moment but, if you can ride it out, you may benefit greatly by a jump in value.

No matter what, contact us as there's a game plan for every situation.  We can take a look at your OCFs, prepare a before tax Sales Analysis and prepare your Property Analysis worksheets so we're ready to flick the switch whenever the market shows us it's the right time.

 

The Retired or Elderly

 

We've been watching the rescue package announcements and have noticed you're being forgotten.  Watching your RSPs decline with the stock market's rapid decreases may be causing you some anxiety.  Or maybe you were already thinking the skyrocketing costs of taxes and services were becoming too expensive for you to continue enjoying your home.

We bring to the table a ton of experience in working with the elderly and these times specifically require the care and compassion we bring to the table.  Please don't hesitate to contact us to discuss your situation and work toward finding a solution for you.

 

Estate/Power of Attorney Sales

 

We hate to sound morbid, but these are an ongoing issue regardless of any given moment in time.  It's simply a fact of life that people pass away and others are put into positions where they can no longer make legally binding decisions for themselves - not specifically related to the current situation.

We have a multitude of experience in handling Estate Sales and working with POA's to sell the property.  We are not "ambulance chasers", we just want you to know we're here to help through these difficult times.

 

Camp/Rural Sellers

 

You may be looking at your financial situation and thinking, if you had the equity from the camp, you would be much better off.  Or maybe you were already thinking last October, when you were putting the camp to bed, that you're just not getting to spend enough time out there anymore.  Sometimes situations like this make us reflect on the extras we're carrying.

We love the camp listings and have tons of experience with camp sellers and buyers.  Contact us to put together the right game plan to list, market and sell your camp.

 

Commercial/Industrial Sellers

 

The landscape for businesses is obviously changing drastically.  As we see massive amounts of people being laid off or shifted to working from home, the entire model of how you deliver your services could be changing, either temporarily or permanently. 

Some companies may be permanently looking to move to a more home-based model for their employees and require less office or retail space.  Some suppliers may be looking at expanding their warehousing space or moving to a location to better serve their clients based on changes to their clients' service model.  Some industries may be considering shifting their production lines to reflect changes towards the future needs of Canadians and the world.  

We're here to help analyze your business model and to help you make the hard decisions.  Let's take a look at all the stakeholders across your spectrum and assess your best options moving forward.

If you're an investor, there may be opportunities to repurpose your property that you weren't considering or thinking of buyers whose business is rapidly evolving into requiring a property of your type. Like the changing landscape, the marketing of your property should be adjusting rapidly with it.  Bring us to the table to help make the right choices moving forward.

 

Leasing

 

Like the commentary above, your business may be going through a transition period that is looking more permanent as things continue.  Maybe your current tenants are showing signs of struggling and may be required to downsize or shut down their operations entirely.  Get us involved early to see if there's a way out of it for both parties instead of getting into a contract dispute.  Possibly there is another business out there that is looking for expansion or the current circumstances have them looking at different locations to better serve their evolving business model.  Let's face it, legal disputes are costly for both parties and you'd likely wouldn't even recover any judgements after this.  Why not work with the current Lessee to make a transition more smooth to a new tenant and avoid a long vacancy altogether?

If you're currently a lessor or have property available,  we're here for any leasing needs you have - commercial, office, retail, industrial, etc.  Let's connect as soon as possible to make sure we're making the right adjustments, watching the market demands and doing the proper due dilligence to get you moving forward.

 

Did We Miss You?

 

As we said at the start of this, every situation is unique.  And you're no different.  We can do it all and guide you through the daily changes, the potentially new norms and swirling market conditions.

 

Just reach out to us to explain your story.  We reaffirm that we are not judgemental regardless of your circumstances and we want to help you get through these challenging times.

Questions? Need Advice? Complete this form for more information.

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