Appears in the May 2020 issue.

By Cara Sullivan

How has the pandemic affected your business?
For now, people are still fairly optimistic about the economy remaining stable. We have not seen a change in the rate of homes sale cancellations due to the virus outbreak, and as a result we are not pulling listings off the market. In fact, I have many sellers who are getting their homes ready for us to list within the next several weeks. From a buyer’s side, interest rates are at historic all-time lows. If you’re in the market, now is great time to buy.

Are real estate agents considered essential business services?
Yes—as well as ancillary services including mortgage, title, appraisal, inspection, and moving professionals. We have a huge responsibility to take every precaution to help flatten the curve and keep the public safe.

How so?
We will only show homes when we and our clients are in good health, and we always provide latex gloves and hand sanitizer for all showings. And many steps in the homebuying and selling process already have become virtual. Open houses have been suspended, and we’re minimizing in-person interactions as much as possible. In the case of vacant properties, individual private showings can be accomplished consistent with social distancing practices, and the same is generally true of home inspections. Closing transactions and recording of deeds and mortgages are the only steps that require minimal in-person interaction and document exchange.

Listing soon? To get the most bang for your buck, follow Cobb’s three-step strategy before going live.

“Overcluttered homes appear neglected,” says Cobb. “Do a room-by-room purge—hire an organizer to help you, if necessary—and be honest with yourself about whether or not there are some things that need to be freshened up or replaced (two words: paint and carpet).

“Take yourselves out of the space,” says Cobb. “Remove family photos, outrageous posters, and controversial artwork, and neutralize the wall colors. It may look a bit sterile for you as the homeowner, but the buyers see a clean canvas that’s ready for their own personal touches.”

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that cleanliness is next to godliness. “If your home does not show ‘sanitary and clean,’ you will have a hard time getting top dollar in this market,” says Cobb. And the outside is just as important: “Make sure the front entrance is clean, inviting, and freshly painted, with new door hardware if necessary,” he says.

Photograph by Olivia Kohler