Virtual showings. FaceTime house tours. And buyers buying homes sight unseen.

Realtors embrace the new normal

Imagine buying a home based solely on a virtual showing and a FaceTime tour your realtor took you on. And by “took you on,” I mean you’re on your laptop having coffee while your realtor walks the property you’re interested in, sharing its pluses and minuses, via FaceTime. That’s just one of the innovative ways realtors are embracing the new normal and helping people buy and sell homes safely. 

What else are they doing? How do they feel the real estate market will fare in the months ahead? How are clients responding to certain new safety precautions including not being permitted to tour a house in-person if it’s not vacant and they have an underlying health condition? We asked five local area agents these and other questions. Read on for their answers! 

Lifestyle Magazine (LM): How has the real estate business changed during the pandemic?  

Patty Toman (PT): Although the market seemed to momentarily hit ‘pause’ when the pandemic became apparent, it is now a very busy market. Listings are seeing multiple offers, buyers are seeing more competition.

Mike Crosby (MC): Although some consumers have taken a conservative approach and put their real estate matters on hold, the market in Northern Virginia has not been affected. Homes are still selling quickly and for top dollar, and in many cases there are bidding wars with escalation addendums and the waiving of inspections. 

Patti Brown (PB): There are fewer buyers out looking as well as fewer sellers who are actively listing their homes. And we’re all having to use cautionary measures that we never needed to use in the past.

Dawn Arruda (DA): When the stay-at-home order was issued, it was very quiet and slow for the first two weeks but as soon as word of reopening spread, the phones started ringing and contracts started getting written. I ratified five in one week. With interest rates so low and pent up demand and low inventory in this area, business is brisk.

Lesley Salman (LS): More buyers are looking online, more virtual online tours, virtual open houses, sellers are making buyers prove that they’re approved to be looking in that price range prior to touring a house and of course, safety precautions such as face masks and gloves. Buyers are attending fewer home inspections and other inspections and letting the professionals handle them alone.

LM: What types of new strategies and tools have you implemented? 

PT: Presidential Realty is utilizing recommended ‘safe showings’ protocol with face masks and gloves for all, as well as virtual tours and virtual showings as appropriate. In addition, our realtors have always provided enhanced up-front information to help buyers determine if a viewing would be called for, and in these times that high level of research is even more critical.  For our sellers, we remain committed to providing the safest environment while their homes are on the market. Our open houses are highly regulated, and provide a high level of comfort to sellers and buyers alike.

MC: Virtual tours have become a bit more common in the marketplace, but providing shoe covers, gloves, masks and hand sanitizer are additional amenities our listing agents offer prospective buyers to provide a level of comfort and peace-of-mind. 

PB: I have added a “walking video” to all of my listings so buyers can get an effective “feel” of the house and property.  It’s a highly effective way of giving the buyer a sense of the floor plan and flow, just as they would walking through the house in person.

DA: We do walk-through videos on all our properties and we’ve always used FaceTime for whoever couldn’t see a property in person. I am finding that the virtual open houses do not work well. Your audience has to be captured via Facebook or Zoom in order to generate the kind of urgency that gets people to schedule a time to see a property. 

LS: Virtual tours, showings, open houses and more advertising online. I also held two real estate livestream panel discussions to discuss the state of the market on my show, Going Gainesville.

LM: How are those new tools working for your clients and your business? 

PT: Extremely well.

MC: So far all these implementations have worked out very well. 

PB: Very effectively! 

DA: It’s hugely helpful with potential clients.

LS: There is a lot less driving around and more efficient use of time. The clients do not seem to mind.

LM: When you go with clients to see a property, what kind of safety precautions do you take?  

PT: Face masks and gloves, social distancing, realtor taking the lead and opening doors, turning on lights, etc.

MC: I take clients to view properties and coordinate with the sellers to ensure everyone is aware as to when and who will be entering the home, and that our agents and clients are implementing all the necessary safety requirements possible. Gloves, shoe covers, masks and hand sanitizer.

PB: When I take buyers to see a property, we wear masks, gloves and shoe covers. We maintain a safe distance from each other as well and try to be very respectful of the seller’s home.

DA: Masks, gloves and booties to protect all parties is essential. Also, we ask that no children come on appointments and, if you have a health condition, you must wear a mask and maybe even skip in person showings if the house is not vacant. 

LS: We try to touch the least amount of things possible, and of course we wear masks and gloves.

LM: How do you see this impacting the real estate business in the long term? 

PT: While a ‘new normal’ is emerging, many of these safety practices are likely to remain and provide a safer environment for all, ongoing. All said, I’m confident our market will quickly find it’s balance, and we’ll continue to keep our clients educated as to new practices and standards to ensure the most successful outcomes.

MC: I feel that once this passes we will experience a surge of sales as there will be pent up demand. Prices will climb and bidding wars will intensify. Although some consumers have experienced job losses or reduction in pay, I believe that the current administration will take the necessary precautions to protect those and not allow the banks to foreclose and create an alternative to protect their families. 

PB: It’s difficult to know. One day at a time!

DA: In this business you have to change and adapt often, and you have to understand the current state of the market,  be it a health crisis, an economic crisis, or a housing crisis. I think that the agents who conform to the new normal will do very well. 

LS:  I think we will see a lot more people willing to buy homes sight unseen or narrowing things down online and only visiting their top one or two choices. 

Many thanks to….

Dawn Arruda, ABR, CDPE, MCNE, PSA, RE​/MAX Regency, 7373 Comfort Inn Drive, Warrenton / 540-729-6740 / /

Patti Brown, Long and Foster Realtors, Inc., 492 Blackwell Road, Warrenton / 703-401-5798 / /

Mike Crosby, Broker/Owner, Homestead Realty, 7524 Gardner Park Drive, Gainesville / 703.731.3677 / /

Lesley Salman, Principal Broker/Owner, Salman Home Realty, 4512 Erin Drive, Haymarket / 703-505-7400 / / 

Patty Toman, Owner/Principal Broker, Presidential Realty, Haymarket and Manassas / 571-331-5791 / /

About Staff/Contributed 510 Articles
Piedmont Lifestyles Publications welcome contributions from any and all members of the community. Email news and photos to or call us at (540) 349-2951.

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