Winning the real estate sale battle amidst COVID-19 blows

Wondering how home sales are proceeding during the COVID-19 pandemic? Well sometimes, it takes a lot of maneuvering and creativity.

Here is the tale of one Eastside real estate transaction that defied the odds as the pandemic unfolded and new business restrictions were put in place. It comes to us from local real estate company, Barb Pexa and Associates.

In the end it took 31 days to close the home sale, which included two different buyers and LOTS of obstacles.

This story starts at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The home was listed on March 12th, right as Governor Inslee announced the closure of schools statewide.

List price – $740,000. 40 people still came through the open house even with COVID lurking. The house went pending on day 5.

On day 6 the buyer – a dental hygienist – was furloughed by her employer. That loss of income meant no loan qualifying for the buyers. The deal falls through.

The seller is feeling uneasy. By day 9 a new offer comes in. Hooray. The seller is feeling better, but the buyer is using Bank of America – notorious in the real estate world for being slow with mortgages.

But the deal is on and the home transitions to a ‘pending sale.’

But wait. Soon after, Governor Inslee issues the stay home order and realtors are listed as non-essential workers. Question: Can they even sign buyers at real estate offices? One half joking suggestion – since grocery stores are essential – might the agents sign the buyers in the grocery store wine aisle.

Luckily escrow offices are considered essential. Problem solved.

BUT, appraisers can’t work. Another non-essential business in the governor’s proclamation. Bank of America decides to use remote, desktop appraisals. Problem solved.

Bank of America then defies its ‘slow mortgage’ reputation and is ready to close the loan in two weeks. This one gets a big Woo Hoo from all involved in the transaction.

But a new kink: home stagers are also non-essential according to the statewide stay home order – which means they can’t de-stage the home to close early.

Remember, at this point realtors are still non-essential so some creativity was needed. Maybe the sellers can de-stage the home and get all the furniture out themselves?

Then another cheer. Realtors are reclassified to essential workers. Barb then contacts the Washington Realtors Association, asking it to advocate for stagers.

Another cheer. Stagers are also reclassified to essential. The home can be de-staged and the sale can move to closing.

Stop. Don’t cheer too quickly. New obstacle.

During this lag time, the buyer’s apartment management office was closed, also considered nonessential, so the bank cannot get the final verification of their rental history needed to finalize the mortgage loan.

Cheer again. After a week of waiting, the verification of rental history comes in and the parties are cleared to close the sale.

More Cheers. The deal moves to closing.

Stop cheering. New delay. King County Court recorders – needed for home sales – are working from home.

The deal officially records the next day. The sale is official. Sighs of relief, and yes, earned hoorays.

This 31-day, ‘middle-of-the-ever-changing-COVID-crisis’ home sale tale required patience, some advocating and creativity.

And oh, an additional tidbit to this COVID-19 real estate tale: that seller, Darren Reid, works in commercial lending and while waiting for his home sale to close was working 14 hours days processing CARE Act PPP loans for the bank where he is employed.

Barb Pexa commented, “My lesson here is we have had some serious hurdles and yet we have worked through them all and we closed quickly and at full price. Our real estate market continues to move at a steady pace.”

Darren commented, “This transaction had more hurdles than any other we had done together so far, but Barb handled it like a pro.”

Eastside home involved in this COVID real estate tale.

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