For home buyers, the last thing you need in an already-extensive and already-confusing process is more uncertainty. Unfortunately, the current state of the world – specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic – adds another layer of confusion and doubt onto a process that can already leave people’s heads spinning.
It’s the unfortunate truth that COVID complicates many seemingly-traditional rites of passage – and homeownership is certainly at the top of that list. The repercussions from COVID in the real estate process are wide-reaching, covering everything from health and safety precautions to different financial considerations.
So, what do home buyers need to consider when looking for their new home during the COVID crisis? As we wait and take heart in some of the positive vaccine-related developments surrounding COVID, it’s nice to have a checklist for some things to know and do as the crisis rages. Here’s what you need to know for buying a new home during this ongoing pandemic.
The first thing all home buyers should do when looking to buy a home during the COVID crisis? Take a long – and realistic – look at your financial situation to determine where you’re at and where you might be in a year. Buying a home can be a long and drawn-out process. How would you grade your job situation? Is there likely to be a change in employment status during the home hunt or immediately afterward? Have furloughs or other changes in your employment income brought down your pool of available cash resources? It’s a perfect time to step back and reassess your priorities. Are things stable enough financially for you to set out on the house hunt? Above all, be realistic about your prospects. Now is the time to be true to your finances, not wish and hope.
The COVID crisis manifested itself through the real estate market in several different ways. While interest rates might be lower (usually marking a good time for home buyers), home buyers might find there isn’t just much out there on the market. Due to financial situations or stay-in-place orders across the country, many people who might usually think about selling are now choosing to wait and ride out the pandemic before making any huge lifestyle changes. Putting a house on the market certainly counts as one of those options.
So, the bottom line? Even if you’re ready and willing to move during a time of lowered interest rates, there just might not be a house out there that fits your needs. Steady yourself for a longer-than-usual home hunt in the COVID market. Try to have patience, and open yourself up to different areas or markets that you may not usually consider; a wider search might bear better fruit.
COVID affected the entire country in different ways and at different times. Certain urban and suburban areas became more in demand at certain points while others saw reduced interest; those rises and falls could reverse per a host of factors (infection rates, local regulations, etc.).
It’s always good to have a trusted, reliable voice to provide you some insight into how the local market reacted to the crisis – and what home buyers should prepare for. Seek out a local real estate agent’s advice that can serve as a guide through the process. They’ll be able to work one-on-one with you to understand the local market and point out the effects of the crisis on the areas you’re looking in. Additionally, they’ll be able to provide you with some helpful advice on the different financial and regulatory changes that come with the COVID crisis.
Another important point when it comes to your relationship with your real estate agent during COVID: just like any other working relationship during the pandemic, the crisis does affect standard working norms. Your agent might not be able to keep the same hours and work with you virtually instead of in-person. Talk to them before you start your house-hunting experience to see how they’re adjusting.
During normal times, most prospective buyers of a house would be able to walk through to view the property – either through an open house session or a one-on-one time scheduled for a realtor.
These are not normal times, however. Many homeowners are uncomfortable with opening up their homes for strangers during a pandemic, for obvious reasons. That means that most open houses are definitely out, and they might not even be comfortable with interested home buyers walking through the house with an agent.
As a result? Home buyers might have to adapt to the times. You might have to experience your future home in a “virtual walkthrough” delivered over Zoom or another video streaming application. If this is the case, work closely with your realtor to map out the path through the house and figure out precisely what you need to see.
It might be tough to make such an important financial decision without ever setting foot in the property you’re looking to purchase. However, until the COVID crisis starts to abate, this type of virtual tour will likely be the rule and not the exception.
Looking for a resource to find a home during these troubled times? LemonBrew is here to help for the duration of the pandemic – and beyond. Here’s what we can do:
- Find an agent. Use LemonBrew to find the person that can help you get into your new home. Our free, powerful custom-matching technology connects interested home buyers with experienced, vetted, and local real estate agents – all in a transparent, data-driven process. Whether you have a home picked out – or you’re just starting the search – let the experts at LemonBrew take you through the process smoothly and successfully.
- Help with the financial side. Already have an agent picked out? That’s great – and that’s where LemonBrew Lending comes in! With LemonBrew Lending, you can find the mortgage loan that’s perfect for you. Our team of trusted advisors educates you about the borrowing process, helping you make informed decisions to help you reach your homeownership goals. Count on us for help when it comes to both new purchases AND refinances of existing homes. Go ahead – use LemonBrew lending to get prequalified today!
- Closing services and title insurance. We can’t forget about the all-important last steps in the homeownership process: title and closing services! These are the last few steps “over the goal line” that can drag out without proper guidance. Let LemonBrew Abstract provide the innovative, in-depth closing services and title insurance you need to get in the home you’ve always dreamed of!
Another resource from LemonBrew to check out? The LemonBrew blog – the place to go for feature articles on every aspect of the real estate industry. Read pieces including “How a Real Estate Title Search Works,” “6 Things to Know About a Mortgage Application,” and “Understanding the 10 Most Common Real Estate Title Terms.” Explore the full blog here!