Whether you are a buyer or a seller, everybody’s situation may be different during “corona season”. For potential buyers, they will move forward with the home buying process and take advantage of the low interest rates. For sellers, they may look at the low inventory and use it to their advantage. For others however, they prefer to err on the side of caution and wait. Whichever situation you may fall in, I cannot emphasize enough of the importance of being prepared.
Today’s real estate market is constantly changing due to the Shelter-In-Place requirements. Because of the cancellation of open houses, and the strict guidelines for home showings, the importance of working closely with an agent cannot be overlooked. Schedule a meeting with an agent either on the phone or through video conference and have them educate you on your current local real estate market. Discuss different locations, price ranges, and desired features. You may be ready now, or in a few months, or even a year, it doesn’t matter what stage of the timeline you are in, it is always good to have a meeting with an agent so you have a plan and direction. Your agent is a resource to keep you informed along all the stages of the buying process.
As a buyer, the first item to take care of following a meeting with an agent is to speak with a lender. That is, unless you will be buying a home with cash, then obviously this meeting is not needed. Before you can view any homes for a possible purchase, you need to know, definitively, how much money you have been approved to spend. There are several reasons to get pre-approved before you start looking at homes. One of those reasons is that you probably want to work with a reputable agent. No reputable agent will show you homes until it is known what price amount you are approved to purchase. Looking at homes before being pre-approved leads to possible frustration as you may get an emotional attachment to a home, then come to find out you do not qualify for the price amount. This is why no “reputable” agent will show homes until an approved price amount is known. In addition, you need a letter from a lender stating the amount which you are approved so that it may be submitted with any offers you make. In today’s competitive market, with such low inventory, offers without a pre-approval will not be entertained. This is a step that cannot be “put-off til later” because there will not be any “later” as you do not know which homes to view and you cannot make an offer on a home as it won’t have any merit without a pre-approval letter.
You may be wondering if it is even possible to view homes right now. Real Estate is deemed an essential business. There are clear guidelines and limitations instituted to remain safe. Open Houses are currently not an option. However, if you are using an agent, Open Houses would not be a necessity anyways. As a starting point, it is recommended that your agent sends you properties with virtual tours so you can view a more visual representation of the property without actually being there. This brings safety and convenience to both buyers and seller and allows potential buyers to get an idea of the overall layout of house. But keep in mind, this is only a starting point in the viewing process. These next steps are very critical and is why it is important to be working closely with a local real estate agent. Do you like what you see with the virtual tour? Your agent can then help you set up a request for an in-person private showing to view the property. A state mandated advisory addendum will need to be signed and returned to the seller, prior to any showing. This state document explains the strict mandated guidelines that must be followed by both potential buyers and sellers during all showings. This is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. So, can showings still happen? Yes, they can, we just need to follow safe guidelines when doing so, and we will be able to get you one step closer to homeownership.
After following the safety guidelines during the showing process, we have finally come to the point of submitting an offer on a house that you love, and most importantly…getting that offer accepted. One major aspect to understand during this current market are time-frames for closing. Although we would all love to close in 30 days or whatever specified time on the contract, it may be possible, and it may not. That is not something to stress over, as there are protections in place. Particularly a coronavirus addendum that allow for extensions to the contract. This is especially important for the safety of inspectors and appraisers, as they need to physically be at the house to perform their inspections, during a time of social distancing. Keep in mind though, everyone involved in the transaction will want to close in time, and steps will be taken to ensure that it happens, but it’s always good to know that protections and options are in place that will give buyers and sellers “peace of mind” when in escrow.
So, can you move forward towards your dream or homeownership? Absolutely! If you are willing to follow the guidelines in place for the safety of everyone involved, there are ways to move forward to find your dream home!