Any homeowners looking to sell their home should be following a comprehensive checklist. Despite everything you may have heard or read about how to prepare your home for a successful sale, these lists have changed since Coronavirus. It's time to take a new look how to prepare for a successful sale in this new world. 

Modern city condo

As we get into a new season still marked by Covid-19, I think most people have realized that this is the new normal and it will remain like that for some time to come. It's time to adjust our lives and actions accordingly and selling your home is no different. 

From what I have learned in the past few months working with buyers and sellers, I found this list in a recent article for agents very accurate and to the point. Most of these tips are best practices for sellers in normal times, and are even more important now. I have summarized the article below and here you can read the full story. 

1. Find an advisor who understands the new market conditions

If you are thinking of selling, you should start partnering with a real estate advisor about six months before you plan to sell and before you start any home improvements or renovations. Here are some key factors, sellers should keep in mind:

  • Wealth preservation is more important than ever. As unemployment numbers are high, the stock market is in turmoil, many businesses are closing, the prospects for the next couple of years are not bright, according to industry expert Gary Keller. Sellers should choose an agent who is doing more for you than just looking for a quick sale. He or she must understand that wealth preservation is important and will work with you to achieve the best sale for your home at the right time. 
  • Digital capability is essential in these times that everything is happening online. Your advisor must be knowledgeable and familiar with the technical tools that are available to communicate and negotiate effectively in this new technology oriented environment. 
  • Virtual listing presentation and electronic supporting materials are getting more and more popular with sellers. Your agent must understand how to effectively communicate with you in the virtual world. 
  • Covid-savvy, meaning the agent must be familiar with your local state, county and city mandated rules and regulations that are Covid related.There are still too many agents that do not understand or follow the pandemic rules that are in place for showings, open houses etc. 
  • Proven track record under pandemic conditions. The current crisis is separating those who understand how to adapt to the new environment and those who wait until it's over and think they can go back to the old normal. Real estate activities are most likely never going to be the same as pre-pandemic, and those agents who adjust early on will be thriving. 
2. Focus on market timing 

In Chicago, the state mandated stay at home order was enacted in mid March 2020. With the pandemic hitting us right at the time when the usually busy spring market was about to take off, the stock market sank and transactions were cancelled. Showings were no longer possible and everything came to a stand still. As a result, the busy spring market was delayed and pushed to the summer and fall. Summer was much more active than last year. The fall market seems to have tampered off again, however that seems to be affected more by political events and social unrest than by Covid. 

With the market being influenced by so many factors, it is hard to predict when we will see a "normal" market again. The fact is that people still need to  move and sell and buy real estate. More than trying to time the market as a buyer or a seller, it is important that sellers prepare their home for an effective listing. 

3. Feature homes that resonate with current needs

With many people working and schooling from home, we are being forced to rethink the way we live and set our priorities in our homes. The home office has become a necessity, exercise areas are no longer just a nice option and separate spaces for home work are essential. To accommodate these changed needs, home improvement projects have increased and contractors are booked for months. 

While we are spending more time at home, we also have an increased need for private outdoor spaces. Patios, terraces and roof top decks are the most sought after features in city dwellings. 

Sellers looking to maximize their exposure should be aware of the the following: 

  • Move-in ready homes have become more valuable. Buyers want the remodeling done before they buy and they are ready to pay a premium for upgrades. 
  • Optimized spaces are gaining on popularity. When staging a home, sellers should focus on creating dedicated office spaces, modern and functional kitchens and outside spaces. 
  • For online viewing, a beautifully renovated and decorated home achieves the best results. Good photography is key to showcase the home from its very best angle and in the best light. 
  • Properly priced homes will sell. Because access to showings is still limited, homes that are not priced competitively, will not generate showings. 
4. Facilitate online showings

Promotion is key. Because buyers treat the showing process like online dating, sellers and their advisors must do everything they can to get the buyer's attention immediately. Here are few helpful tips:

  • Provide pre-emptive inspection reports. If your home is older or you have reason to believe that a buyer may be worried about the inspection, it is a good idea to have your own inspection and show it to an interested buyer. 
  • Provide comprehensive disclosure packages: The more information you can provide upfront, the better a buyer will feel about your house without seeing it in person.
  • Provide lists of upgrades and recent renovations: Includes repairs, reports and warranties. 
  • Provide easy access: Provide all this information online proactively
  • Provide virtual brochures: With fear of contamination, buyers do not want to touch a paper brochure. Give them a virtual brochure instead and a video. By doing that, you also show your commitment to help the environment.
5. Furnish access for in-person showings

Even thought virtual showings are the norm now, many buyers are not ready to write a contract before they have actually walked through your home. Open houses are not allowed in many city high rises; sellers and their advisors must prepare for safe private showings: 

  • Vacant homes are easier to show than occupied ones. Sellers do not always have the option to move out before they accommodate showings, but they should de-personalize and de-clutter as much as possible. Before showings, agents should prepare the home by opening drawers and cabinets to minimize how much a buyer has to touch. 
  • Private showings should be limited to 30 minutes and with no more than two buyers from the same household
  • Provide PPE (personal protection equipment), such as masks, hand sanitizer, paper towels, gloves and booties. 

It's a whole new world and with the proper planning and preparation, homes can be sold at good prices and within reasonable time frames. 

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