We’re staying on top of the Covid-19 situation and its impact on the Gulf Coast real estate market.
“Our first concern is ensuring the safety and health of our customers,
agents and employees. We are constantly adapting our
business to current conditions and are prioritizing
all public health recommendations for your welfare.”
Drayton Saunders, President
1. Our offices
Beginning Monday, May 18th, all of our offices will be open to the public. All agents and staff will continue to follow CDC guidelines for social distancing and sanitation, and all entering and exiting will be required to wear a face mask (which we are happy to provide as needed).
2. Showing properties
All properties available in our entire market area may be viewed on MichaelSaunders.com – many of them have virtual tours and videos. With the approval of our sellers, our agents will continue to show homes – following all precautions outlined by the CDC. As always, we will be consulting with our customers to do what is best for them.
We will also continue to share when our agents are participating in our Virtual Open House events. Past tours are still available for viewing on the MSC Blog.
3. Writing offers/helping customer close
Our associates and staff have continued working diligently throughout the shelter-in-place order, and can be reached by phone, text or email. We are still bringing new listings to market, writing and processing contracts, and handling appraisals and inspections. Our mortgage, title and insurance teams are also equipped to handle business digitally (if preferred). Every customer and every detail are important to us.
Answers to your questions
Buying a home
Should I wait until all of this is over to look at homes? Am I able to see a property I might be interested in?
Every buyer’s process and situation are unique. We are flexible with a variety of in-person and virtual options to help you move closer to finding the home of your dreams. Throughout the process, we will continue practicing CDC guidelines for proper social distancing and sanitizing.
Will more homes be able to come to the market during this situation or should I wait?
When the stay-at-home order began, we were in the height of our selling season with high demand. With our market area gradually reopening, we are expecting additional homes to come on the market, but will likely see the same need for more homes as we move into the summer. This means when you see a home you love, don’t wait too long to make your decision.
Have home values gone down?
We are hopeful the housing market rebounds quickly, and are already seeing positive signs to show that it will. During our shelter-in-place, prices remained consistent – and any price reductions made were likely needed prior to the outbreak. We are monitoring all market data weekly. When we are further into recovery as a region and country, we will be able to note any effects of the pandemic.
Are moving companies still operating?
Yes, most moving companies are still operating. They are following strict CDC guidelines for cleaning, sanitizing and social distancing.
The property we are considering needs work; are contractors still able to perform work right now?
Yes, contractors in Florida are considered essential companies and may choose to keep their businesses open and working.
What if my financial situation drastically changes (financing, job loss, savings) while I’m under contract or in escrow; will I still have to go through with the purchase?
Financial situations can change at any time during the purchase process, not just during a pandemic. We always stress the importance of reading your sales contract thoroughly and reviewing the section related to financing very closely. This is where your real estate agent will be able to provide sound counsel on the process and what you may encounter during this situation.
If I close on a house and then lose my job or suffer other financial hardship will I be immediately foreclosed on?
Foreclosure is the legal process a bank will take if financial commitments cannot be met. Depending on the financial institution they may provide loan forbearance or forgiveness programs, or special payment options to see you through the hardship. Financial institutions will vary on how they handle financial hardship as a result of the current pandemic and you will need to speak directly with them to know your options.
Selling a home
Why would I want to sell now with so much uncertainty?
Seller motivation is going to vary greatly during these times. There are still buyers buying, so if you feel you have the right home at the right price for today’s buyer, selling now may still make sense. Speaking to an agent about buyer demand for your area and type of home is important during any market, but especially now.
How will you help me manage this process?
Our agents, staff and leadership team are here for you every step of the way. Since real estate was deemed an essential service, our entire team has been working throughout the stay-at-home-order. Whether operating remotely or safely in-person, we will use every tool available to help you through the selling process. We can show homes virtually, sign documents online, review the inspection over a video chat, and use bank wiring and mobile notaries for closing.
Will the buyer still be able to get an appraisal and inspection?
Home appraisers and inspectors were deemed essential and exempt from the stay-at-home mandate. These professionals have their own protocols to ensure everyone’s safety and are continuing to offer their services.
What kind of sales contingencies now need to be in place?
All contingencies are made to conform the contract to the unique situation of each transaction. If there are events that have to happen for you to complete your sale, these should be made as contingencies. Discuss this with your agent in detail and ensure if a contingency has to be written it is clear and detailed. If your agent has to write this contingency it should be reviewed by an attorney.
Did the value of my home go down? Will I need to do a price adjustment to sell?
We are hopeful that the housing market rebounds quickly, and are already seeing positive signs to show that it will. During our shelter-in-place, prices remained consistent – and any price reductions made were likely needed prior to the outbreak. We are monitoring all market data weekly. When we are further into recovery as a region and country, we will be able to note any effects of the pandemic.
Can I sell my home without staging? If not, are stagers even working and do I want them inside my house?
Having your home show-ready is important in any market. There are ways to do that without professional staging, but stagers are working and available. We will work with you to determine if a stager is necessary or prudent to your situation and take every precaution necessary for the safety of everyone.
Would my home need to be available for open houses? Is that even possible today?
Traditional open houses are available but are still being cautioned by Florida industry leadership as well as the Florida Surgeon General. However, individual, in-person showings can be scheduled pending your comfort level. All CDC guidelines will be taken into account if this is your preference. We also provide digital options to showcase your home, including virtual open houses using social media live streaming. Long after recovery, this will likely continue to be offered to give more buyers an opportunity to view your home on their time. Tune into our next Virtual Open House event to see how our agents accomplish this.
What happens if my buyer’s financial situation changes while we are under contract?
Financial situations can change at any time during the purchase process, not just during a pandemic. We always stress the importance of reading your buyer’s contract/agreement thoroughly and review the section relating to financing very closely. This is where your real estate agent will be able to provide sound counsel on the process and what you may encounter during this situation.
Should I accept an offer from a buyer who is not pre-approved?
Pre-approval is an important factor in any market – but especially now. It is important to note, a pre-approval will not guarantee a purchase. If a buyer’s financial situation changes during the purchase process, the mortgage may fall through. Pre-approval will give more peace of mind, but won’t be a guarantee. All-cash offers are not a guarantee either, pending if the money being used may be coming from stocks/savings that have been significantly impacted.
“This is temporary. We will see this through.
Our community always pulls together, regardless of
the challenge in front of it. And while the world
around us is full of uncertainty, of this fact,
I am sure… we will pull through this as well.”
Founder & CEO