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'Sight unseen' home sales on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 3:43 PM, May 21, 2020

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The coronavirus has caused a decline in real estate sales overall, but South Florida realtors say they're seeing an increase in "sight unseen" closings.

It's not a conventional practice to buy a home you've only toured virtually, but COVID-19 has made that a reality.

"When you trust your realtor and you have that relationship, it made the virtual buying a house so much easier," said Melissa Rizzitano, who's in the market for a home in Palm Beach Gardens.

The Massachusetts resident just put an offer on a home without ever seeing it in person.

Rizzitano's realtor, Robyn Suberi, said they're still doing in-person home tours, but right now it really depends on the buyer and seller's preferences.

"I had one that I listed a couple of weeks ago and we were very particular," said Suberi. "It is owner occupied and we were very particular about the people we wanted to let in, obviously because of COVID."

A report released by the Broward, Palm Beaches, & St. Lucie Realtors shows closed sales in April in Palm Beach County were down 30 percent compared to a year ago, but the average number of days to contract dropped 47 percent.

"When you look at the fact that there’s slightly fewer homes hitting the market, that’s decreasing the days of inventory or the months of inventory, I should say," said Jarrod Lowe, the President of the Broward, Palm Beaches, & St. Lucie Realtors.

Lowe added buyers are taking advantage of low interest rates.

Suberi said May has been a busy month so far, and she's seeing more interest from New York high rise owners looking to get into single-family homes and townhomes, rather than condos.

"To get out of high rises because having shared space like that with elevators, lobbies, hallways, and anything of that nature," said Suberi.