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Stark Operations During COVID-19

At Stark, our priority is the health, safety, and welfare of the entire community during this time. It is our policy to conduct ourselves and our business in a way that does not in any way compromise those more urgent goals.  Read a statement from our President David Stark.

Yes, you are permitted to meet at our offices for real estate purposes. Again we encourage (as much as reasonably possible) that we maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person. Stark encourages everyone follow the guidance provided by the CDC and to take all prudent and common sense precautions to limit the risk of unnecessary exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19.

Yes, in-person showings for homes and open houses are available with the consent of the seller. We encourage social distancing with others and request that only necessary decision makers attend in-person showings and open houses. We will attempt to have hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available. Stark agents will also have virtual options available to clients and customers, such as virtual tours and video conferencing.

Contact your agent for best guidance. While real estate contracts can be similar, each contract has specific terms. Your agent will have knowledge to coach you through if any term of your contract is affected.

For any in-home appointments necessary to satisfy contract contingencies, your Stark agent will stay in contact with you. We’ll discuss in advance to make sure you are comfortable with—and approve of—who is coming to your home, when and for what purpose. For extra safety, inspectors and appraisers are requiring agents and buyers not to attend. All will be asked to follow CDC guidance.

Title companies, movers and businesses involved in a real estate transaction are safely and successfully providing their services. Title companies are asking only those who need to sign documents to attend the closing. Due to a new law passed in March 2020, many closing services can now be done online. Given our ever-changing environment, your Stark Realtor will remain in close contact with you about options for closing and moving services. Any in-person needs will adhere to CDC guidelines.

Yes, you can buy or sell homes today. Real estate brokerage, lending, appraisal, inspection, title, and other functions are also able to operate safely and successfully.

Yes, you can. Many times, buyers will include a clause to make the offer contingent on touring the home in person at a later date. Be aware, however, that some sellers are not comfortable with this type of an offer. Sellers risk the buyer walking away after weeks of waiting to get in. There are many ways to deal with this situation from the perspective of both the buyer and the seller. Talk to your agent if you think this is something you’d like to try.

Yes, and in fact, through early June at least, it was functioning surprisingly well. Offers to purchase were down a bit compared to normal expectations, but not drastically so. The buyers and sellers currently in the market are active and serious, and both have a good chance of success.

We think the answer is no, especially in the longer run.  The coronavirus is an exogenous shock to the economy. Supply and demand dynamics for housing have remained strong throughout the pandemic. Relatively low inventories and high demand have kept a floor under prices.  If the economy were to fall into a longer recession as a result of the pandemic, it is possible prices will eventually fall somewhat. Over the longer term however, we expect the fundamentals of housing to be unchanged. If prices do drop temporarily, they will rebound in time.  For the first five months of 2020, the Dane County median residential price has risen 2.35%.

In short, we think the answer to this question is also no. In fact, it’s our belief that housing is perhaps as well-positioned as any industry can be to weather this storm successfully. Housing is a basic necessity, and people will always need to buy and sell it. The process for transferring a home usually lasts at least a couple months and is not something people do every day, like buying groceries or going out to eat. The real estate industry is built on intermittent and uneven sales patterns. Since the end of May, home sales have picked up substantially.

This is dependent on your individual situation. Homes are continuing to sell, and the market has accelerated further since the Memorial Day. We are still seeing multiple offers on many homes as soon as they hit the market. The buyers that are out now are serious ones. That would argue for going ahead, especially if you believe your home would be in high demand. The bottom line is if you need to move, you should do so. Some sellers are uncomfortable with people going through their home at this time, and that is understandable. You can request virtual-only showings, but that will restrict the number of buyers willing to make an offer. There are as many variables as there are sellers. Talk with your agent and make the best decision for your particular situation.