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Even when the coronavirus was at its worst in the U.S., real estate and furniture companies remained open and operational as essential businesses. Despite the convenience of having these services available, consumers have been concerned about how they can keep themselves safe while they shop for these important purchases.
FOX Business spoke with two industry insiders to get their best COVID-19 shopping tips.
How to safely shop for a house?
Commercial real estate investor Marina Vaamonde has implemented COVID-19 safety measures while she has worked with clients in Houston, which can be helpful to any consumer who is looking to buy a new home during the pandemic.
“Don’t make unnecessary pit stops with your real estate agent while you are looking at properties,” Vaamonde told FOX Business. “If you plan on being out for a while, bring drinks and snacks along for the trip.”
She also advises consumers to wear personal protective equipment when viewing a home, which includes gloves and face coverings. Additionally, she recommends consumers take their shoes off at the door and try their best to not touch common surfaces.
As an alternative, virtual or self-led tours can be requested to minimize contact with other parties.
For high-rise properties, Vaamonde urges social distancing and capacity limits on elevator rides or opting for the stairs.
When it comes down to communicating with your real estate agent, Vaamonde says consumers should refrain from scheduling “unnecessary face-to-face meetings,” and use messaging or video call services instead.
Methods like these can also be applied to a virtual closing.
“You don’t have to physically have to go to the title company to sign your closing or loan documents,” she explained. “All documents can be sent to your home with an authorized mobile notary who will attest to your signature.”
Vaamonde added, “Leave your pre-pandemic social etiquette behind. There is nothing wrong with keeping your distance and letting the individual around you know your boundaries. If someone is getting too close for your comfort, speak up.”
How to safely shop for furniture?
Since states are in the early reopening stages and most major furniture companies haven’t revealed in-store sanitation practices and are pushing curbside pickup or delivery instead, the safest bet is to shop online.
Jon Cheney, the CEO and co-founder of SeekXR, an augmented reality and 3D viewing tech company, told FOX Business that furniture websites that “already have AR capabilities in place are better prepared as consumers are able to use their smartphones to view products and bring to life how they’ll look in their home.”
Brands like Overstock and Raymour and Flanigan are using SeekXR’s technology to make online furniture shopping easier with true-to-size views. All consumers need to do is select an item they’re interested in and check out how their selection looks and scales in their room by aiming their smartphone in a designated area, so “they can safely experience a product before they buy it.”
Although augmented reality is helpful on the social distancing front, it doesn’t quite replace the feeling of sitting down in a chair to check its comfort or putting weight on a table to check its sturdiness. However, looking up reviews on furniture websites may help you make an informed decision before you commit.
For curbside pickups and deliveries, hand hygiene and PPE should be a top priority to reduce the chance of infection.