As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out, there have been plenty of questions surrounding the real estate industry — and rightly so.
When real estate slows down, the rest of the economy slows down. So, what happens when it’s the other way around? Colorado’s housing market is still one of the hottest in the country, but there’s no doubt it looks much different today than it did a few weeks ago.
Now, that doesn’t mean deals aren’t getting done. Homes are still going under contract, sellers are still handing over keys to buyers and new homes have consistently been hitting the market since stay-indoor orders came down from the state and many parts of the country.
Denver High-Rise Living broker associate and condo expert Brady Cullen recently closed his downtown listing in the middle of the crisis. We sat down with him to discuss what the deal looked like and what buyers and sellers can expect going forward.
Denver High-Rise Living: What’s the timeline for this listing and did you need to use any special addendums to extend the deal after it went under contract?
Brady Cullen: The listing went under contract on Feb. 29 and we thankfully didn’t have to extend any of our deadlines as a result of the pandemic. This isn’t the case, though, for all real estate transactions out there right now. I really credit the commitment to frequent communication between myself and the buyer’s agent to ensure we stayed on top of the changes coming from Denver and the state that could have possibly impacted our deadlines.
DHRL: What was your main concern as the spread got worse here in Colorado and more restrictions were put on all businesses, like social distancing?
BC: I admittedly was in the same boat as a lot of Americans when reports of the virus started coming out. I wasn’t sure how serious it was and questioned the validity of the reports coming out. As the virus spread, though, and case numbers increased drastically, I quickly recognized the severity of the situation and almost immediately implemented social distancing practices into my personal and professional life.
My primary concern was making sure I wasn’t coming across as someone operating with a ‘business as usual’ perspective and potentially spreading it throughout my community. As real estate agents, our business involves a ton of commuting and even more interactions with people, so the idea that I could have been out spreading it or that I could easily contract the virus was my number one concern.
I’ve been trying to stay positive with the whole situation because I know everyone is in the same boat right now. Many are in a worse situation.
DHRL: Explain how you overcame any hurdles of regulations while following the laws and keeping your client and the buyer comfortable.
BC: We were lucky on this deal to have already been under contract by the time the social distancing and shelter-in-place orders took effect. Most of the challenging aspects of real estate with these new regulations are the showings leading up to the contracts.
The inspection and appraisals were all about communicating with those professionals to make sure they had everything they needed prior to showing up to the property so that no one else needed to be present. Once those were completed, we were just focused on the closing. My sellers were already planning to do a mail-out closing packet, which played to our advantage given the restrictions, but it was the communication between the title company and the buyer’s agent and I that ensured the buyer was ready and able to close on time.
Neither agent actually attended the closing, but we had the option to FaceTime during it.
Additionally, we arranged for the buyer to have an individual final walk through with all keys and fobs left for him ahead of time.
I can’t say it enough, but it was truly just a matter of over-communicating and ensuring that any potential questions, issues or concerns were addressed ahead of time and that we all were anticipatory of the fact that at any time something could have changed that would have resulted in us needing to push out closing.
When we did close on time, it just made it that much more exciting for all of us knowing that we were prepared for anything and made it happen for our clients on time with no issues.
DHRL: Were there any parts of this deal that were more tricky due to COVID-19?
BC: Not being present for a closing is something that any agent will tell you always makes them a little nervous because you can’t guarantee your clients well-being. That said, our amazing partners at Canyon Title did an incredible job of offering a FaceTime chat for us as agents. I was also lucky that my clients were experienced in real estate transactions and understood everything we had previously reviewed for their closing.
DHRL: What’s your advice for sellers who are on the fence about listing right now?
BC: It’s difficult to give advice to people at a time like this because no one really can predict the future. What I would tell those on the fence about real estate in any regard right now is that you’ll never know for sure if you made the right choice until you’re looking at it in the rear-view mirror.
DHRL: What about for buyers?
BC: It’s the buyers I have had a lot more concern from with this current market, in terms of waiting to buy or not. Additionally, I would tell buyers to remember that investing in real estate, no matter the current market conditions, is a long-term game. Real estate values drop and increase and markets recover, then thrive and then drop again no matter where on that timeline you made your purchase. The market doesn’t care when you bought your home because the market doesn’t guarantee appreciation on your home.