Drive-by closings, virtual showings: realtors making accommodations to help stop spread of COVID-19

Drive-by closings, virtual showings: realtors making accommodations to help stop spread of COVID-19
Drive-by Closing: Attorney Matthew Kidd with Reli Title wears gloves while handling paperwork in a drive-by closing (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Virtual open houses, protective gloves and drive-by closings: these are all new realities for realtors who are quickly adjusting their daily operations to comply with the guidelines issued to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Shortly after the CDC released the social distancing guidelines, Birmingham-area realtor Isaac McDow bought a box of 100 gloves to wear when showing his clients homes. To conserve supplies, he just wears one glove and uses that hand to open the door handles and turn on light switches in the houses he’s shown in the last week.

“I’m asking my clients, ‘Hey, once we’re inside the house, don’t touch anything. Don’t touch doorknobs, and light switches. I’ve got gloves, I will touch all of those things, you just put your hands in your pockets and walk around and just look,” McDow said.

McDow has had two closings in the past week, one which he said was, “fairly normal,” held in an office. As precautions, the office space is being cleaned between each signing, non-essential personnel are asked not to come, and each person was given their own pen to sign documents.

“Anybody who doesn’t need to sign anything needs to stay home,” he recommended.

But the company he works for, Keller Williams, is also offering “drive-by” closings to help people stay safe while following social distancing guidelines.

“I had a closing on Tuesday where the buyer sat in her car the whole time. The attorney came out to her car, gave her paperwork, had her sign in her car, and my buyer never got out of her car,” McDow said.

Agents are using FaceTime, Zoom and other video technology to help show houses that are for sale to prospective buyers, reducing the number of people who are visiting homes while allowing the real estate business to move forward. McDow said he knows an agent who is hosting a “virtual open house” this weekend, and he plans to attend.

“It’s a great opportunity to use the technology that we have to service our clients,” he said.

While prospective buyers and sellers may be wondering how the economic repercussions of the coronavirus will impact the real estate business, McDow said at least in the Birmingham area, there are more people interested in buying a home than there are houses for sale.

“I don’t think the current real estate market has changed that drastically. We have new procedures, but we still have a lot of buyers out there so we’re still getting out and showing houses, trying to take care of our clients and the owners of the house. We’re trying to make sure everybody is safe and keep rolling,” he said.

Isaac McDow, realtor with Keller Williams

The National Association of Realtors issued guidelines on Monday, including recommendations for holding open houses, precautions for signings in an office area, and other unique issues for realtors. You can find those guidelines here.

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