real estate news
for the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
As part of Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53, the real estate industry is considered a professional service that may remain open. However, in response to social distancing measures and with the best interest of everyone involved, Funkhouser Real Estate Group has moved to a work-from-home environment and has encouraged all of our Associates to utilize teleworking and virtual options as much as possible.
At Funkhouser Real Estate Group, this has been a relatively seamless transition since our focus on technology has kept us at the forefront of the industry.
“Our company has always invested in the latest technology to support our associates and serve our clients, and this has become especially important during these times,” Joe Funkhouser, founder and president of Funkhouser Real Estate Group, explained.
Associate Jack Rose says he’s been utilizing technology to remain connected with his clients, conducting virtual property tours and offering guidance via phone, email, or through video technology, like Zoom, using whichever method is most comfortable for the client.
Likewise, Associate Ronald Flores says he’s also been utilizing virtual property tours as part of his listings so interested buyers can have a better sense of whether the house might be a good fit for them before scheduling a showing.
While much of business can be conducted virtually, agents are still offering in-person showings for interested buyers. All open houses, however, have been postponed at this time in the interest of everyone’s health and safety.
For individuals or families interested in viewing a home, our associates are conducting showings while implementing all CDC-recommended social distancing and preventative measures, including disinfecting surfaces, wearing gloves and masks, and remaining at a safe distance while showing a home. For interested buyers, our associates recommend that only essential individuals attend a showing and to avoid touching any personal property while viewing a home.
Our responsibility at Funkhouser Real Estate Group is to ensure that our clients, whether buyer or seller, feel safe and supported during this transaction; so if there are any concerns about showing your own home or visiting a property, please reach out to an agent who will be happy to discuss any additional preventative measures.
While there are certainly new procedures in place for entering a real estate transaction, those of us at Funkhouser Real Estate Group have seen the real estate market in the Shenandoah Valley holding steady thus far, indicating that it is still a good time to buy or sell a home.
Joe Funkhouser has weathered seven recessions during his 48 years in the real estate business, including a period in the 1980s when mortgage rates were at nearly 20%, the Savings & Loan collapse, the dot-com bubble, and the most recent mortgage crisis that began in 2007; and he says this one is different.
“While the real estate market slowed greatly during those times, we are experiencing a different environment with the current COVID-19 issue,” Joe explained. “Prior to this situation, our economy and the fundamentals of the real estate market have been the best we have seen in modern times.”
He added that interest rates for mortgages are still very favorable for purchasers and, overall, the local market has remained robust.
Our associates have reported similar thoughts, noticing marginal changes in their individual businesses and no sweeping price cuts in the Shenandoah Valley to date.
Associate Tom Schroeder says his recent listings have received great interest, with one receiving a full price contract last week within just five hours of listing.
For properties moving toward closing, many of the title companies, including West View Title, have been conducting closing processes electronically to ensure they are doing what is socially responsible for their clients and employees.
Chris Jones, Attorney and Owner of West View Title, says they have developed a drive-up system that has been working well for clients.
Prior to a closing appointment, a purchaser sends a copy of their driver license to the title company for verification. Then the purchaser drives up, picks up their final documents from a dropbox outside, and the title agent conducting the closing will discuss the entire contract, page-by-page over the phone. When the purchaser is ready to sign, the title agent can watch through the window as the purchaser signs in their car and places the signed documents back into the drop box. The title agent can then notarize the closing documents and repeat the same process for the seller.
While this ensures that closings can continue, there has been a decrease in the number of closings that can occur in a single day because of this newly required approach, so clients must be prepared for closings to take slightly longer than normal.
This has been the best option, Jones explained, because despite e-notarization, which allows commissioned Virginia electronic notaries to notarize documents online via audio-video technology, being legal in Virginia since 2011, there are several issues with that process, including cost and the requirement for “wet” signatures on the deed of trust.
Once the paperwork is signed, recordings are still being made at a relatively normal pace, despite reduced hours at the courthouse. Some title companies are preparing for the worst if courthouses close all together, but that is not currently the case.
As things do continue to change in response to the COVID-19 situation, Funkhouser Real Estate Group is continuing to focus on staying up-to-date on conditions, and educating our associates about any changes that would affect our clients. We are currently holding virtual professional development meetings with our associates twice-a-week to ensure that we all remain informed and able to continue serving our clients fully.
Joe Funkhouser says he believes this focus on education and the strong relationships that our associates have built with service providers will continue to ensure clients can find their next home or sell their current home, even during this difficult time.
While we are doing our best to continue serving our clients, there are still uncertainties as to how COVID-19 will affect the overall economic activity, including the housing market, but we are watching the situation closely and helping clients make informed decisions.
Rose says that for an interested buyer or seller, the most important action to take is to reach out to a professional at Funkhouser Real Estate Group, who can help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
While there may still be unforeseen obstacles in the future, we feel confident things will return to normal. Through it all, our dedication to our clients remains unwavering, and we will always be here to guide you through every move.