It’s certainly the year to sell a house. Since mid-2020, homebuying demand has surged, and with record-low levels of inventory, home prices jumped in response. According to Realtor.com, median listing prices are now up almost 14%. In fact, they’ve clocked in a whopping 22 straight weeks of double-digit growth. So any properties you own could probably fetch a pretty penny right now — even the ones in not-so-great condition.
But be prepared: Selling a home doesn’t look quite like it once did. Thanks to the pandemic, real estate transactions have had to evolve quite a bit. From more hands-off processes to tech-driven tours, closing appointments, and even appraisals, there are quite a few changes you’ll want to be ready for.
Are you considering selling an investment property in 2021? Here are four ways the process might look different.
Buyers are leaning heavily on listings these days, and they’re vetting properties more seriously before ever setting foot in them. That means to get through that first line of eliminations, you’ll need to pull out all the stops. This might include 3D walkthroughs that let buyers explore the home’s layout from afar, video tours that zoom in on every detail and amenities, and drone videos that show the full lay of the land (or use all three, if you really want to sell the place).
2. You might not attend a closing appointment
Remote, online closings have surged since the pandemic began. According to data from Black Knight (NYSE: BKI) 48 states have now authorized the practice or at least have executive orders allowing e-closings temporarily. The move has allowed buyers and sellers to finalize real estate transactions virtually, without any added risk of coronavirus infection.
For lenders and title companies not offering e-closings, many are doing curbside ones instead: You’ll simply pull up in the parking lot, sign papers through your window, and be on your way. It’s seamless, fast, and incredibly convenient.
3. Your appraisal might look a bit different, too
Many appraisers are no longer doing on-site appraisals due to fear of infection. In some cases, they may simply drive by the home or do an exterior-only assessment. In others, they may do what’s called a “desktop” appraisal, using just property records and comparable sales to guide their valuations.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency just moved to extend these flexible appraisal options at least through the end of February.
4. The mortgage process may take longer than usual
Mortgage processing times have slowed since the pandemic began. According to data from Ellie Mae, the average time to close across all loan types was 55 days in November 2020. That’s up from 45 days in 2019.
Fortunately, homes are selling extremely fast, so you may make up for those extra processing days with a lightning-fast sale time. Realtor.com’s data shows homes are selling about 12 days faster than they were last year.
The bottom line
It’s definitely a seller’s market in most places, making it a great time to sell a house and turn a profit. Just be ready for a slightly different — and potentially longer — process if you do so.
You can ease the challenges by bringing in an experienced real estate agent. A good one can help handle the nuanced marketing strategies needed in the current environment, as well as guide you through the ever-evolving transaction process.