If I Need To Move, What Am I Supposed To Do Right Now?

With many businesses sidelined and instructed to remain so until further notice, you might be wondering, what do you do if you have to move? Just because storefronts and offices are closed, it doesn’t mean people aren’t working. In fact, most service industry professionals are itching for business and most of it can be conducted remotely and, if not, using social distancing.

Need to Sell: While the pool of buyers is undoubtedly smaller right now, there are people who need to move due to relocation, a lease ending, growing family, etc.. These personal situations do not just go away because we are facing a closure of non-essential facilities and businesses. Marketing methods will need to be different since open houses are not currently permitted and The MLS (local multiple listing service for Los Angeles) has removed the ability to input an open house. While in-person showings are not recommended due to the “stay at home” order, it can be done. Selling a home now requires adaptation to technology such as video tours and interior 3D modeling, although some companies will only do 3D modeling of vacant houses. Many home stagers, photographers, and various trades needed to get your property ready to sell are still working despite stay at home orders for “non-essential” businesses, which despite clarification by the state or city, is vague and not being enforced.

Need to Buy: For things to be plausible for a seller, there need to be some buyers out there, which there are. In the interest of social distancing, many buyers are utilizing video tours and models of homes, although one would imagine that visiting the home will be necessary for most prior to finalizing a transaction. As is done with most tenant-occupied investment properties, offers can be made subject to interior inspection. That’s not just an inspection contingency, that’s the right to pull your offer before putting your deposit into escrow if you are not visually satisfied once you view the property. Inspectors and appraisers still are mostly working and some lenders are allowing drive-by appraisals in certain situations. Notaries, who meet with a buyer to sign loan documents and transaction documents, still need to meet in person in most states, including California. However, e-notarizing is starting to catch on and is legal in several states and the use of is likely to accelerate due to the current situation. Escrow, title, and lenders are generally working remotely and deeds can be electronically recorded despite the recorder’s office not being open to the public. As with any uncertain time or when the workforce is stressed, atypical delays can and do sometimes occur. Lending guidelines are quickly tightening as many of the stated income or “sub prime” lenders who had a small niche recently, are no longer investing in these mortgages, so a loan that might have been approved at the beginning of a transaction might no longer be. A new addendum has been created dealing with issues such as delays, changes, and unexpected circumstances that might cause the transaction to cancel, so if this is completed with the offer, while closing complications are possible, there should be no additional risk if closing does not happen as scheduled or if cancellation is necessary during these uncertain times.

Need to Lease: The solution without the least amount of potential complications right now is to lease a place. There is less risk of committing to a place for a year sight-unseen as opposed to buying one that way. Also, a transaction can close in a matter of a couple of days rather than waiting weeks and weeks for a loan to close. Movers are working, no notary is necessary, so this should not pose any unique logistical challenges.

While driving down the street in LA these days feels almost eerie with the emptiness of the roads and stores, I assure you there is a shadow workforce ready to handle your needs, while still safely distancing. Your move, if you choose to make one now, can be done now and done so safely. Now just wash your hands and cough into sleeve and you should be fine!