The Silicon Valley Voice

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Even in the COVID-19 New Normal You Can Still Buy — or Sell — a House

Likely most of us think this is not a time to buy or sell a house. But Sunnyvale realtor Dave Clark reports that there are buyers in this market, and they’re buying.

“There are fewer homes on the market, but there are fewer buyers out there driving up prices,” he said. Likewise, there are fewer houses on the market, and this keeps prices stable.

Most buyers now, he reports, are local — either buying up or moving from apartments. Buyers are looking for more space than in the past, he said. And houses that can accommodate two home offices are in demand because of the shelter in place orders.


Clark advises people not to focus on market timing. Instead, they should focus on their own goals and needs.

“If you need to sell your house, who knows what the future will bring?” he said. “There are buyers out there. We’re selling unoccupied homes. We’re still getting multiple offers.”

“This is always a good market for sellers,” said Clark, “especially in Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.

“There are good schools, good city services and many businesses are moving into new office parks,” he continued. “This area is convenient; it’s a central location. We have so many more jobs than houses, we’re impacted less by external factors.”

Likewise, Clark advises buyers not to let the perfect stand in the way of the good. “Don’t let that good house pass you by,” he said.

Although houses are still being bought and sold, the pandemic has transformed the way real estate sales work. “We sell much differently now,” he said

Before a house goes on the market these days, sellers must sign a disclosure and provide that to the buyer’s realtor before showing the house, Clark said.

Buyers and sellers also need to be aware of new rules about showing houses. Occupied houses can be shown, but residents can’t be in the house.

Almost all showings are now online and via 3-D walkthroughs. Clark has used these in the past, but a new tool in his portfolio is virtual staging — a virtual reality staging of decor and furniture in a vacant house.

“One thing that helps adoption of these tools is that we’re in Silicon Valley and people here are early adopters,” he said.

But there are some things that even the high-tech residents of the Bay Area still want to do in person, walkthroughs. “Remote buying hasn’t panned out,” he said. “People want to go into a house.

“Buyers are allowed to visit vacant homes, but there’s no staging and no open houses,” Clark continued. “Only one realtor and two other people at a time are allowed to look at a house.”

Other services needed are operating, Clark reports. The county recorder is open and inspectors are back on the job, “so we can get inspections and we got the green light on photographers.

“We’re still closing escrow,” he continued. “People are getting loans remotely with electronic signatures and lenders are sending a notary to houses to sign papers.”

Closing can take longer, though, he reports. “Escrow offices are closed, so closings rely on mobile notaries. It may be more difficult to get a loan, people may have to jump through more hoops. Those able to pay cash might be more likely to do so.”

Government liens on the property will also add to closing delays, he said.

Regardless of how the process of buying a home has changes, some things never change Clark says. “People need homes. And something tells me that in about nine months they’ll need a lot of homes because there will be a lot of babies.”


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