By Joseph Callaway

First, use a REALTOR® – Now, more than ever, your agent plays a vital role in your next home search. The best news is that your agent is paid by the eventual seller. You don’t pay a dime.

Go Digital
Before you physically go out to see homes for sale, you can view homes that meet your criteria online.

Your agent can do many things to facilitate your online search. Your agent can set you up on an automatic MLS feed so that you’re alerted to any homes meeting your criteria when they come on the market.

When you narrow your search to a manageable number of homes, your agent can “preview” them for you. This previewing can include a video chat from the property with an opportunity to see features in real time.

Many homes have videos or virtual tours that put you there digitally.

All these options can narrow things down, but ultimately, you will want to tour the property in-person.

For physical showings, an agent can facilitate your seeing any home on the market and your agent can help protect you in these pandemic times. Your agent will do all the touching – the key, the doorknobs, light switches. In the case of an occupied home, your agent will deal with the sellers to arrange for their absence or orchestrate physical distancing.

Handshakes are a thing of the past. Meet your agent at the property or, for multiple properties, follow in your own car. Be sure to discuss these procedures and precautions with your agent prior to your first home visit.
Put together your own home viewing kit. Include a bar of soap or bottle of liquid soap. You can always wash your hands at the kitchen sink as you view the home. Remember to bring your own towel or paper towels.

Carry hand sanitizer for times when handwashing is inconvenient. Wear a mask and disposable gloves. This protects others as well as yourself.

Go Paperless
While everything in real estate should be in writing, you don’t have to put pen to paper, type it up, or even print documents out. Digital records are easy to create, easy to store and easy to share.

Use Texting. Like a running conversation, texting is time stamped and can include photos.

Use Email. More than a conversation, email can include attachments, photos, and documents.

Use Video. You can video conference with your lender, your agent, your title company, or everyone at once via video conferencing software. FaceTime or Skype is great for one-on-one, face-to-face communication.

Use DocuSign. All the forms necessary to complete a real estate transaction reside in DocuSign. It is easy, convenient, and transferrable via email. You can buy or sell your next home right on your phone or laptop.

Your REALTOR® can walk you through these new technologies. Who knows, maybe your next home purchase will happen without even leaving your favorite chair.

Joseph Callaway is co-owner of Those Callaways Real Estate, Arizona’s leading independent brokerage located in the magic 85254 zip code.