Home Buyer’s Guide – Covid Edition

Years ago, when you daydreamed about buying a house, you probably never pictured having virtual meetings with a title company or wearing a mask while signing closing papers. But here we are, doing our best to live life as normally as possible while dealing with the realities of a pandemic. And buying a house is one of those normal milestones that you shouldn’t necessarily put off. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some unique adjustments you’ll have to make as you shop for a house during Covid-19! Check out our  home buyer’s guide for purchasing during the pandemic.

Expect to Rely on Online Tools More Than Ever

Even before the pandemic started, home buyers were getting used to using the Internet to begin the buying process. This year has only strengthened that trend, as most steps of the typical real estate transaction are now required to take place online so everyone can stay home as much as possible. And this trend will likely stick around for a while, which is great news if you happen to be a homebody!

Find an Agent Online

So what exactly can you do to start the home buying process without even walking out your front door? Well, the first step is to find a real estate agent. If you’re like so many people who have friends and family members in the real estate industry, you can just make a few phone calls or send some emails to get started with an agent. But if you don’t happen to know any real estate agents who are familiar with the area you want to buy in, you can find one online through LemonBrew. When you contact us, we’ll match you with a Partner Agent who is just right for your needs as a home buyer!

Look at Online Listings

Once you find a real estate agent, the home buyer’s process will continue online a little longer. This is because after you let your agent know what you’re looking for in a dream home, you’ll start to receive listings with homes for sale. You can click the links to see descriptions and pictures of each home, and your agent will ask you to let him or her know which ones you love—and why! It’s also a good idea to let your agent know which ones totally miss the mark so the two of you aren’t wasting time on homes you don’t like at all.

Take Virtual Tours

After you have a small collection of homes you do like, you can schedule tours of them. Now this is the part that used to be in-person for most home buyers, as you’d usually get a chance to walk through the house with your real estate agent to see if it’s as good in person as in the pictures! But due to Covid-19, home tours are typically virtual now. And that’s okay, because technology has come a long way in recent years, with 3D virtual tours able to make you feel like you’re right there in the house. Granted, in some cases, you and your real estate agent may decide to see a house in person while taking precautions. This decision should be based on local laws and the comfort of you and your agent, so you may have some options as home buyers during the pandemic.

Meet Online to Complete the Transaction

Finally, after you’ve chosen your home—and completed a few virtual or perhaps in-person tours—you’re ready to begin closing on the house. Luckily, you can participate in most of the required meetings online! Many title companies now offer virtual meetings and allow you to complete payments online. And of course, you can meet with your real estate agent by phone, email, or video calls to discuss any details. All of this technology should at least cut way down on the need to meet in person as home buyers during the pandemic.

Be Prepared for Delays

As you might have noticed already, a global pandemic kind of throws everything off, which can lead to lots of delays. And the real estate industry is not immune to this! So expect some delays as home buyers this year. When you have to reconfigure most meetings to be virtual, and in-person meetings can only involve a few people at once, things are going to take longer. This applies to everything from home walk-throughs and home inspections to all the preparations for closing day. Basically, the closing process could be prolonged by a few weeks or even a few months due to the pandemic.

In fact, there’s a whole addendum applied to many home buying contracts across the country this year. That’s right; there’s a coronavirus addendum! So what does that mean for the home buyer’s process? Well, it’s a type of force majeure provision that basically says if anyone involved in the transaction can’t perform the obligations in the contract due to something beyond their control—like coronavirus—they may get extra time or even be excused. So if there are travel restrictions, lockdowns, reduced staffing, or required quarantine, anyone involved in the contract won’t be penalized for these delays or even cancellations. This should put your mind at ease as home buyers during a time when so much is out of your control.

Put Safety First

A final tip on buying a home during the Covid-19 pandemic is to always put safety first. This is why there’s a coronavirus addendum in place, and it’s why most meetings are now virtual. Everyone involved in the home buyer’s process wants to keep buyers, sellers, and their own employees safe, and you can help with this!

What that means is being flexible during the home buying process, meaning you’re willing to switch to virtual meetings last-minute when necessary. And if in-person meetings are necessary, be prepared for them to get cancelled and rescheduled a few times during the home buying process. Feel free to ask what precautions are being taken by your real estate agent, title company, movers, and any other professionals you’re working with as you buy a home. At the same time, you can be proactive by bringing a mask, hand sanitizer, gloves, and your own pens to any in-person meetings. This way, you can rest assured you’re protecting yourself and everyone else as much as possible as you buy a home this year.

If you’re ready to become a homeowner now, don’t feel like you have to wait due to the pandemic. There are a lot of ways to stay safe while buying the home of your dreams, and there are many reasons to buy this year instead of waiting. In fact, you’re in good company if you buy a home this year, as the housing market is hot right now. New home sales were up by 43% this August compared to last year, and 63% of millennials plan to buy within a year. If you want to at least explore what’s led so many people to become home buyers this year, contact LemonBrew today to get matched with a Partner Agent so you can get started and put this home buyer’s guide to use!