Deals fall through and agents struggle to sell over coronavirus measures

Open houses are all but off the table and some buyers are pulling out of deals

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has all but completely upended the business of being a real estate agent.

Restrictions on large gatherings have put a hold on open houses and many buyers and sellers are understandably hesitant to do face-to-face business. Agents struggle to show homes and maintain social distancing measures, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sean Nielsen, an agent in Seattle, said that prospective buyers were still willing to go to open houses over the weekend. He and his colleagues tried to keep groups of people away from one another.

He provided slippers wrapped in plastic and made a bleach-and-alcohol sanitary spray to disinfect homes before open houses. Now he’s started giving virtual tours.

The heads of many major brokerages are divided over whether to suspend open houses altogether.

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Contracts are falling through as well. Compass agent Shana Rohde-Lynch, who works in San Francisco, told the Journal that a buyer pulled out of a deal because the purchase was meant to be funded partially with a stock sale.

Los Angeles broker Mauricio Umansky had a buyer pull out a deal because he wanted to keep some dry powder to take advantage of low stock prices.

New York agent Donna Olshan of Olshan Realty Inc. said she had at least one contract fall through as well.

“I have been in business for 40 years, and this looks like a cross between 9/11 and 2008,” Olshan said. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch