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The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S has increased the need for digital notarization and e-signatures this year. While they have been in use for some time, they are becoming more common in real estate transactions in recent weeks. Home buyers, sellers, and agents want to continue practicing social distancing while carrying out home closing procedures. Instead of keeping 6 feet away from others while wearing a face mask, many people are choosing the virtual route instead. If we continue to see successful remote closings, we should expect them to be used readily even after the pandemic comes to an end. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to stay at home, here are three significant benefits of remote closings during COVID-19. 

Remote closings save time.

In 2020, people work on all different types of schedules. Because of this, it can be challenging to get all parties involved in a real estate transaction together in one physical location. However, with remote closings, you do not need to worry about scheduling or everyone driving to one place. 

Remote closings are easier signing experiences.

For years, paper documents needed to be printed and distributed to home buyers. Because several documents are needed, it is easy for a page to go missing or for a buyer to miss a signature. With remote closings, this eliminates this concern because they ensure everything is filled out entirely.

Remote closings are less stressful.

It can be stressful for buyers to sit at a closing table. For most people, buying a home is the largest purchase a person will make in their entire life. People tend to be less anxious at remote closings because they feel less rushed when asked to sign several online documents. Buyers can review documents ahead of time before the eClosing to be sure they fully understand everything.

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Are you in the market for a new home? Although the outbreak of COVID-19 has made the process of searching for a home more challenging for much of 2020, it is still possible to purchase your dream home this spring. Keep reading and discover a few tips designed to help you at different stages of the home buying process during COVID-19. 

Consider a COVID-19 addendum

COVID-19 addendums are becoming increasingly more common in various real estate markets across the country. Buyers are looking to provide themselves with another layer of protection with their home purchase because of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. For example, if deadlines in terms of the contract get pushed back due to COVID-19, an addendum will protect you. Once you have found a home you want to buy, be sure to speak to your realtor about including a COVID-19 addendum. 

Invest time in pre-approval

One of the best steps a home buyer can take when beginning their home search is to get preapproved for a mortgage. This fact remains to be true during COVID-19. Sellers are far less inclined to entertain interest from buyers who are not pre approved because they are seen as less serious buyers. Another benefit of being pre-approved is that you will likely have a better idea of how much you have to spend. After you receive your pre-approval letter from your lender, you will know your exact price range. This knowledge will allow you to narrow down your home search, as well as you to quickly act on a home that was recently placed on the market. 

Use virtual showings

Your safety should be your number one priority during your home search. By using technology to aid the buying and selling process, you can help to protect the health of buyers, sellers, and agents during COVID-19. If possible, attend virtual showings and walkthroughs before attending any in-person showings. The goal of buyers should be to limit the number of homes that they physically walk through. In other words, only attend in-person showings if you are seriously considering submitting an offer. 

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This year has brought much uncertainty to the real estate industry. Because of social distancing, sellers are unsure if now is the right time to list their home. Although the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S is complicating real estate transactions, agents are finding new and innovative ways to close deals across the country. If you are selling your home this spring, here are a few tips that should help throughout the process. 

Post high quality listing photos.

Homebuyers are always looking to see high quality photographs in home listings. There are several steps a seller can take to potentially improve the quality of these photos. This includes removing clutter, making repairs, repainting walls, investing in upgrades, and proper staging. 

Price your home to sell.

Many sellers are pricing their homes below what they would otherwise list their homes for before the pandemic began. Although COVID-19 is affecting home values in the U.S, it is important to remember that the impacts are temporary. With this, it is likely a mistake to list your home far below you think your home would otherwise be worth. Also, pay attention to comparable prices right now and not just older sales. A seller can gain a better understanding of their market if they can gain an understanding of what similar homes are under contract for currently. 

Prepare for negotiations.

Because of COVID-19 and the restrictions put in place by government officials, buyers have more bargaining power than usual. With this, more negotiation may be needed to close on your home. Home sellers need to be ready for additional negotiations even after they get to contract. Because there is much uncertainty in the real estate market, you may need to be more flexible with your negotiations to close on the deal.

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In many ways, a real estate agent's online presence is incomplete without social media. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, social media continues to be one of the best tools for real estate agents to connect with prospective clients. If used effectively, social media giants like Facebook and Instagram can be used to gain market share during this time of social distancing. With this, agents can benefit tremendously from posting relevant content to their social platforms.

In 2020, Millennials are a dominant force in the housing market. Because the younger generations of homebuyers use social media as a tool throughout their home search, real estate agents should continue to post content to their social media pages. People, in general, are spending a considerable amount of time scrolling through their social media news feeds during the COVID-19 pandemic. An agent looking to engage with buyer and seller clients at this time should look to market updates, home listings, and other significant happenings within the real estate industry. 

People love social media and rely on various platforms like Twitter as news sources. An agent looking to strengthen their real estate brand should continue to post content while people are staying at home. However, the posts should be well-timed and respectful to the current conditions in our country. For example, posts about the current low interest rates or about how now is a great time to buy a home are ideal at this time. Because people are staying at home, now is not the best time to share posts about things such as fun activities to do in the local area. An agent should strive to post simple and engaging content that appeals to prospective clients. This will help an agent grow their online following, which will prove to be beneficial over time.

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Many Americans are working from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For many, this can be a challenging transition because they are accustomed to an office-type setting. However, it is possible to remain productive during these times of social distancing. If you are a real estate agent, you are having to make the switch from client-facing to other forms of digital communications. While working from home as a real estate agent can present a variety of challenges, there are steps an agent can take to remain productive while at working from home.

Designate your workspaces.

Do you know which areas of your home that you can use as workspaces? By setting certain areas of your home as designated workspaces, you can associate these areas with work. If possible, try to avoid these areas when you are done working from the day. This is because you want your brain to have a clear separation from work and your home life. It is significantly harder to make this distinction when you are working from home and not driving to your office every day. 

Create a work schedule for the day.

It can be challenging for many people to stay on task when they are working from the comfort of their homes. This is why it is beneficial to set a daily schedule to keep yourself on track for the day. It does not matter if you create one with a pen and paper or have it on your computer or phone. You just want it somewhere where you can quickly access so you reference it throughout the day. When creating your schedule/checklist, be sure that you prioritize tasks in order of importance. For example, if your most pressing task is to get in touch with a client, be sure that you put that at the top of your schedule. If you need even more structure, you can take this one step further by assigning rough timeframes next to each task.

Don’t forget to get up and move around.

Most real estate agents spend a lot of time on their feet during the day. Between meeting with clients and showing homes, a real estate agent generally spends a considerable amount of time walking around. With this, it can be tough for some agents to transition to sitting at a desk for most of the day. It is important for all workers, not just real estate agents, to remember to take breaks and walk around throughout the workday. Exercise is important for not only our physical health but our mental health as well. 

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The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States has led government officials to enforce social distancing and other preventative measures. Many people are unaware that the real estate market is still going strong as there continues to be a demand for the buying and selling of homes this spring. During these challenging times, real estate agents need to transition from many traditional real estate practices to more modern approaches. With the availability of technology, agents can continue to work through various digital applications. 

Email continues as one of the more favorable methods of communication among business professionals this year. It is an excellent way to connect with people who are in different locations. Many agents are now revamping their existing email newsletters to include more information about their business. In other words, instead of only including links to property listings in your email blasts, consider including things like announcements, upcoming events, videos, online reviews, and links to your social media channels.

Another effective way to communicate with home buyers and sellers during this time of social distancing is through your Facebook page. Because people are quarantined at home, people are spending a significant amount of time on their social media accounts to interact with others. With this, be sure that you are spending time each week maintaining an active presence on your Facebook page. This is an excellent place for prospective buyers to post questions about your services, as well as a great place for you to post updates regarding the market and your services. Also, do not be afraid to share a wide variety of content, such as posts about the local community by highlighting small businesses. 

In 2020, we also have mobile apps at our disposal which allow real estate agents to not only market home listings but interact directly with clients. Popular shared video platforms include Zoom and Facetime, as they are viable options during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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