Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.
- Can we still go see home listings in person? This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent, and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or FaceTime home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to prescreen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs – no need to visit those homes in-person. Reserve in-person visits for homes that you are seriously considering.
- How can I stay safe while visiting homes? Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. Drive separately from your agent and just meet at the homes. If you are going to see a home in person during this time, consider wearing a mask (there are many no-sew options to use), carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during, and after the tour. During the tour, designate one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. If using gloves, please be careful to use them properly, meaning you take them off before touching your door handle, carry a little bag for your own trash to dispose of them – be careful not to cross-contaminate.
- What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation. If there are any changes during the escrow period regarding your job, reach out immediately to your lender to see if the loan can possibly be restructured.
- Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? It’s common for the buyer to have access to the home during the escrow period, however, during this time, it might be more challenging. Buyers normally attend the home inspections, however, there can be options now for home inspectors to video certain aspects with the final report should you not want to attend or if the home inspector request it. If you are attending the home inspection, make sure you use this time to do measurements if you are going to be needing them. This way, you are limiting the number of times needed to be in the home.
- Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market might be more motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. Many areas are still receiving multi-offers on homes that are priced right. In addition, we have had a shortage of homes on the market prior to COVID-19 and we will continue to see that after the pandemic. With all that being said, there is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it now for many reasons.
The Covid-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you need during this time. Please feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions. Stay safe!