Practical tips for safely showing and improving your home.
Consult a local agent who is in the best position to know conditions in your area and who can advise you on restrictions that might affect selling activities and a buyer’s ability to close.
People across the country are practicing social distancing, or, in some cities and states, following public health orders to stay at home. That means buyers are not in a position to walk through a home with their agent, and agents may not be in a position to show homes.
Agents have gotten creative in adopting tools and technology that allow prospective buyers to take 3D tours of a home or take a video tour with their agent if possible. Digital home tours are videos the agent captures by walking through the home with a camera, allowing buyers to watch virtual tours from their home.
In some places, temporary business closures are affecting key parts of the real estate transaction, namely appraisals, inspections, closing and title services and moving. Affected businesses are looking for ways to adapt.
Remote tours are an excellent alternative for generating interest in your home if open houses and tours are not an option due to local MLS restrictions or public health orders.
Here are some ways to give prospective buyers a thorough look at your home:
- Record a video tour of your home and request that your agent post it to Zillow and Trulia
- Upload a 3D Home tour to your Zillow or Trulia listing (iOS only)
- Facilitate a live video tour with a prospective buyer
Recorded video tours
Under normal circumstances, your listing agent might record a video tour of your home to share on Zillow or Trulia. However, if social distancing or health reasons require that no one else come into your home, you can ask your agent for tips on how to record a tour yourself, which they can then upload to your listing. Here are some best practices agents have shared with us:
- Clean and organize your home as you would for an open house.
- Turn on all the lights and open all the doors.
- Plot your route. Generally it works best to start at the front door, tour the first floor, then the second floor if there is one, and end in the backyard.
- Keep family members and pets out of view.
- Put your phone in airplane mode so your video isn’t ruined by an incoming call or message.
- Start your tour in front of the home and pan the street before approaching the front door.
- Narrate as you go, commenting on features like flooring and window treatments as well as neighborhood characteristics.
- Open closet doors and describe the storage situation.
- Smoothly pan your smartphone up and down as you film to capture every aspect of the home.
- Tell the story of your home, but not the story of your life in that home. Avoid including personal details or anecdotes.
A 3D Home tour
Anyone with an iPhone 7 or newer can produce a Zillow 3D Home tour. Simply download the 3D Home app and follow these instructions. It’s free to upload the tour to your Zillow or Trulia listing and enables buyers to “walk” through your home at their leisure. We also support 3D Home tours captured on a 360-degree camera like the Ricoh Theta V.
Live video tours
This option is more complicated, but it might be the right fit for some sellers. Talk to your agent about if and how to arrange a live video walkthrough with buyers who are interested in your home.
While it’s still possible to sell a home, it may not be right for your situation. If you can wait, there are still steps you can take now so you’re ready to sell when the time feels right.
1. Review your timeline
How much flexibility do you have? Can you wait out the coronavirus, or if health risks and public health orders extend into the summer months or beyond, will you need to make adjustments to your timeline? Be realistic, and think about a plan B or C.
2. Make or plan for renovations or repairs
If there are improvements you can make yourself — interior painting, basic landscaping or other touch-ups — take this time to start tackling them. If you need specialists to come into your home to do more extensive work, that may have to wait. But you can seek out referrals and contact contractors or handypeople for verbal estimates.
3. Interview agents
If you plan to work with an agent, make some calls. Zillow’s Agent Finder is a good starting point. Just enter your city or ZIP code, browse agents and read their reviews. Once you’ve identified some prospects, these questions for real estate agents can be a helpful guide. If you find an agent you like, they may want to set up a virtual listing presentation via Skype or FaceTime.
4. Stay aware of the market
We can’t predict how the current economic uncertainty will affect home sales and values in the coming months or years — but people will continue to buy and sell homes. Look at comparable home sales in your area to get a sense of how your local market is faring. Zillow’s pricing tool is one way to see what your home might sell for and help you price it right when you’re ready to list.
Every year, Zillow Research analyzes millions of U.S. home sales to pinpoint a time window in which homes sell faster and for more money compared with other times of year.
This year’s analysis was released in February, before the new coronavirus spread throughout the United States. It found that U.S. homes listed for sale in April sold more quickly and homes listed in early May sold for more. Whether that will hold true this year is unknown.
The analysis includes job market and mortgage rate data; both of those areas are likely to be significantly different this year than in previous years. It’s also worth noting that homes sell throughout the year at different price points, and local markets can have their own best times to sell.
You can find Zillow Research’s latest market updates at https://www.zillow.com/research/buying-selling/.
There are many tasks you can tackle yourself in preparation to sell. You may need to do a few touch-ups closer to listing, but you can get some of the big jobs out of the way now.
1. Spruce up your yard: Trim bushes, take note of any trees that may require professional care, add grass seed to patchy areas in your lawn and weed garden beds (and add mulch if possible).
2. Clean your driveway and exterior: Spray off your driveway using the strongest setting on your hose or a power washer if you have one. Hose down your siding (or use a low setting on your power washer, avoiding the caulking around windows). Don’t power wash the roof! It can damage your shingles. Clean your window exteriors, but wait on the interiors as they’re likely to get dirty more quickly.
3. Touch up trim and doors: Unless your paint is in bad shape overall, focus on areas that stand out. A fresh coat of paint around windows and door frames can refresh your exterior, and a newly painted door in a contrasting color can create an inviting entrance.
4. Update fixtures: Check your porch and driveway lighting. If the fixtures are rusty or dated, replacing them is a quick and inexpensive improvement.
5. Depersonalize: Just as you would declutter the interior of your home and remove some of the more personal items, do the same with your yard. You may love your garden gnomes or pink flamingos, but they could be a distraction for buyers. And, if your yard is filled with outdoor toys or a trampoline, you’ll want to pack those up before taking exterior photos or listing your home.
- Zillow’s Home Sellers Guide covers the entire selling journey, from planning to closing.
- Zillow’s Home Pricing Tool can provide a starting point for setting your sale price
- Hidden Costs of Selling from Zillow Research helps first-time sellers prepare for unexpected expenses.
- Zillow’s Agent Finder can help you find a local agent to answer questions about selling and market conditions in your area.
- The State Movers Association provides a state-by-state list of moving regulations and recommendations specific to each state.