The COVID 19 pandemic has made us more aware than ever of the value of our home. As millions of people around the world were forced to stay indoors, the worth of ‘home sweet home’ came to the forefront. But many discovered that their home wasn’t quite what they needed and want to upgrade as a result. Others, driven perhaps by economic necessity, want to sell. But these are not normal times, so what is buying or selling a home in COVID 19 like? In this article, I offer my top tips based on what I have seen as an estate agent over the last few months.
Don’t expect a quiet market
Whether you’re buying or selling a property in COVID 19, you may be surprised to find a competitive market. The real estate sector in Spain – in common with many other countries – has shown strong signs of activity since early April.
Even in lockdown, sales continued to take place, and on balance, the market did not fare badly. According to the latest figures for the Costa del Sol (Q2 2020), there were 25,310 property sales, the fifth-highest number for provinces in Spain. In year-on-year terms, sales dropped by 19.47%, a surprisingly low figure considering that Spain was in lockdown until well into June.
For buyers, this means being clear on what you’re looking for and keeping a close eye on the market. That way, you’ll be able to make an offer on the right property when it comes along. For sellers, a busy marketplace translates to making sure you show your property in its best possible light to stand out from the competition.
Bottom line: it’s a competitive market, so both buyers and sellers need to be uber prepared.
Do go virtual as far as possible
This tip applies whether you’re buying or selling a home in COVID 19. Because health and safety regulations mean that it isn’t always possible to visit a property physically, you need to go virtual.
For sellers, this means showing your house in the best possible light to compel prospective buyers to view your property.
- Use a home stager to help you declutter and display each room to its best advantage.
- Hire a professional photographer to take pictures of your property.
- Get a 3D walk-through and/or video so that buyers have a real idea of your home.
For buyers, this means:
- Choosing an agent whose listings have professional photos, videos and/or 3D walk-throughs.
- Doing thorough research beforehand to narrow down your preferred list of possible must-sees.
Bottom line: choose an agent whose website shows properties in as much detail as possible. This includes photos, videos and the description. Buyers will save time, and sellers will attract more potential buyers.
Don’t expect significant price drops
Apart from the very occasional exception, prices are maintaining a more or less even keel. Figures from Tinsa for August revealed that prices rose in the month by 0.1% in Spain and were 1.8% lower than March. All in all, prices went up by 0.9% in the year.
If you’re buying a home in COVID 19, don’t expect to come across many bargains. You may be disappointed to find that prices have fallen very little. Most analysts point to decreases of between 5 to 10% compared to prices in February.
But as always, a lot will depend on the reasons behind a sale. As Iñigo Molina from Colliers International said on the property market in Malaga in July, “because there are hundreds of owners, adjustments depend mainly on the individual necessities of each one and the urgency to sell”. The more quickly a vendor needs to sell, the bigger the price adjustment.
Bottom line: I think that unless you’re an investor, it’s more a case of finding a property to suit you within your budget than waiting for significant price drops.
For sellers, the slight shifts in property prices do not necessarily mean your property is worth more than its market value. Take advice from a real estate agent in your area and set the right price. Remember that in all markets – with or without COVID 19 – your home is only worth what someone is prepared to pay you for it.
Do follow the hygiene rules
Being squeaky clean is paramount when you’re buying or selling a home in COVID 19. Masks are of course, obligatory for both parties during viewings, and you must practise social distancing.
Sellers need to make sure their home is as clean as possible – I recommend a thorough clean before each viewing taking extra care to disinfect door handles and surfaces. Have hand sanitiser available, and you may wish to give potential buyers gloves when they arrive.
Bottom line: be a respectful and safe seller or buyer to ensure the best impression. It may stand you in good stead in negotiations.
Don’t leave your mortgage application too late
Mortgage interest rates in Spain have never been lower, and competition for your business from banks has never been higher. But transactions are taking longer than usual, and banks are generally more cautious about who they lend to.
If you’re serious about buying a home during COVID 19, get a preapproval for your mortgage right at the start of the process. Under the revised mortgage law from 2019, you have to allow a minimum of 10 days between a mortgage offer from a bank and your acceptance of it. Add this to the time to get approval, and you’re looking at a period of several weeks.
Bottom line: the sooner you get preapproval, the sooner you can act on getting the property of your dreams.
Do expect things to take longer
Over the last few months, we’ve all discovered how simple things such as going to the post office and getting your car serviced take more time than they did pre-pandemic. The same applies to buying and selling a home in COVID 19.
While notaries and land registries continued to operate during the lockdown, there was scope for far fewer transactions, and those that did take place took longer. Over two months later and although the situation has improved, COVID 19 restrictions mean you still need plenty of patience!
Bottom line: make sure your purchase contract allows flexibility for things to take longer. Before fixing a deadline for completion, take advice from your property agent and lawyer on a realistic date.
Don’t buy or sell on your own
At The Property Agent, I specialise in helping buyers find the home that will move them and in assisting vendors in finding the buyer to move them. After 15 years focused on property sales on the western Costa del Sol, I have a long track record of buying and selling property. And best of all, I love doing it.
Let me help you find your ideal home or sell your current one. Get in touch.