There are many good reasons for people to sell their homes during a global pandemic like COVID-19. Divorce counts among the best of them, especially if the relationship is contentious. Nobody wants to shelter in place with someone who is hurting them physically or emotionally, and for these people, getting through the COVID situation and out of the relationship as quickly and safely as possible is paramount to their quality of life.
In California, real estate is an essential service, so you can sell your home legally, but how do you show your house when governments are enforcing shelter in place orders? Is it even possible to sell a house during a pandemic?
The answer is: yes, it is possible—if you’re careful. Traditional open houses and broker’s tours won’t be happening for awhile so, instead, let’s discuss how to show your home safely so you can make a clean break from your relationship and move on to the next phase of your life.
Private showings – One buyer or couple can be allowed through your home at a time, escorted by an agent, as long as everyone is properly outfitted with personal protective equipment (PPE) and maintains the appropriate 6’ social distance. Be ready to insist that gloves and boot covers be worn by anyone who enters your home, and have hand sanitizer available for people to use as soon as they step inside the door. You should also ask everyone to wear masks, which can help keep fluids from passing to the surfaces of your home through coughs and sneezes.
Finally, you might consider asking your agent’s opinion on limiting physical tours to prequalified or preapproved buyers only. Prequalification and preapproval shows that the buyer is seriously looking for a new a home, not just window shopping, and can cut down on the number of times your home is exposed to the virus.
Virtual showings – We’re fortunate to live in a time where virtually everything can be handled…well, virtually. There are a plethora of virtual tour and meeting services available in the Bay Area, as well as online document signing, remote notarization, and electronic deed recording in some areas.
COVID-19 is continually being examined and addressed by lawmakers to ensure home buying and selling can continue to happen throughout the duration of the shelter in place order. If you have any questions, or want to know more about the new way of conducting real estate business, be sure to check with your agent.
Don’t forget to sanitize everything when the showing is done. Here’s a short list of often-overlooked surfaces that may harbor the virus for up to 72 hours, and here’s a list of EPA-approved disinfectants you can use to kill COVID-19.
The key here is to use your disinfectant correctly. Let your disinfectants sit on surfaces for their specified period of time before you wipe them off. It is possible to wipe your cleaning solution off before it has a chance to kill the virus, so make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions and leaving the product on your surface long enough for it to do its job.
Switches, knobs and handles – grab an approved disinfectant wipe and scrub off every door and cabinet knob in your home, plus every light switch, button, water faucet, toilet handle, and stair railing. The people visiting your home are there to consider living in it. If they like what they see, they’ll be testing everything they can get their hands on to make sure it all works. (Don’t forget the exterior knobs, garage door opener, and thermostat buttons, too.)
Entryway flooring – You can disinfect hard surface entryways with many items on the EPA’s list, and if your entry is carpeted, simply spray it with Lysol Disinfectant Spray.
Bathrooms – Hopefully you took your toothbrush and cosmetics with you, or hid them before you left. Before you return these items to their rightful places, make sure you sanitize your toothbrush holder and cosmetics bin. It’s not likely these areas have been exposed, but you have no way of knowing what your prospects touched on their tour through your home, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Countertops – Your prospects have almost certainly touched your countertops, especially if you have higher-end counters like granite or quartz. You probably did the same thing when you were shopping for your countertops—no one can resist running a hand over a glossy stone surface. But be careful when disinfecting your stone counters, especially if you forgot to properly seal them when they were first installed. Instead of using your regular Clorox disinfectant, use a product like Weiman’s Granite & Stone Daily Clean & Shine with Disinfectant. It’s specially formulated for stone countertops, and is on the EPA’s approved disinfectant list.
Telephone and TV remotes – Your guests probably didn’t touch your landline phone or sit down to watch Netflix and chill, but you certainly have. When was the last time you cleaned those high-touch items? You’re already sanitizing the house, so you might as well as hit those, too.
If you’re in the midst of a divorce and need to sell your home, turn to an agent experienced to handle divorce real estate transactions during the novel coronavirus pandemic. As a Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert, I’m trained to neutrally advise you, your spouse, and both representing attorneys on the most effective ways to market and sell your home. I can also provide expert testimony in court and help to resolve contentious disputes that often arise during divorce transactions.
For professional help selling your home during a divorce, call me.
And if you’re having a tough time sheltering in place with someone you’re about to divorce, this advice may help: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/quarantine-social-distancing-unsafe-home-36738768