WACO, Texas — Realtors are re-inventing the home-buying experience to help keep clients safe amid the global pandemic.
Under the shelter-in-place order, fewer people are getting out, leading to fewer in-person showings. To make up for that, realtors are turning to FaceTime tours of homes to feature their listings while maintaining social distancing.
"One of the biggest things we want to do is allow people to buy and sell their homes without risking their safety," explained realtor Christie Gilliam.
Gilliam said she is making prospective buyers do a virtual tour before visiting a home in order to limit the risk of infection.
"No matter what precautions we take, we just want to make sure we minimize risks," she said.
In addition, Gilliam is asking prospective buyers to wear masks and gloves and to remove their shoes. She is also asking sellers to leave lights on and doors open when they plan to show their home in order to limit the number of high-contact zones.
It is an extra hurdle for people like Mike Donohue, who put his house on the market this week.
"I think the precautions you have to take as a result of the infection and everything are certainly unusual and nothing we've ever experienced before," Donohue said.
Donohue said the hardest part of selling during the pandemic is seeing how few people can come see his house in person.
"This catastrophe has really thrown us for a loop, so I wasn't really sure what to expect," he said.
Gilliam said this is an unprecedented time for the housing industry.
"The market right now is definitely something we've never seen before," Gilliam said. "I don't know if I would classify it as a buyer's market or a seller's market."
Her biggest piece of advice for potential buyers is to make sure they are qualified to buy a house before visiting. This will also help to limit the risk of infection.