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!
Finding the perfect time to buy a home is a challenge that requires research and a bit of luck. While timing the purchase perfectly might be desirable, the truth is the right time is a personal decision. Now that we are well into 2020, you might be wondering if this is the right time to buy your dream home. With a strong economy, low unemployment and higher household income, there are 3 great reasons why you should consider buying that dream home this year.
1. A Home is a Great Investment – Real estate remains one of the best investments one can have. Based on hard assets, real estate tends to weather the ups and downs long term better than other investment tools, such as stocks or bonds.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Low – Interest rates have fallen over the past year from 5% in November of 2018 and Freddie Mac expects them to level at an average of 3.8% in 2020. This extra purchasing power is important when buying your dream home and this is a good time to lock in that rate for the next 30 years.
3. Hedge Against Inflation – Rental costs continue to rise and as the economy heats up, inflation becomes more of a possibility. A fixed 30-year mortgage freezes your housing costs and works as a buffer from inflation which is impacting the rental market. Owning property is almost always a good investment. If you’ve been thinking about exchanging your current home for your dream house, 2020 could offer the right time to move up.
Feel free to reach out to me, if I can be of assistance to you. 540.683.3000.
Over the past few years, smart technology has really blossomed into a huge market. With more-and-more devices offering connectivity and lower prices, almost all households have some kind of smart device in their home. While some smart devices are simply “nice to have,” many can actually make your home more appealing to buyers, which can increase the value of your home; if you are considering a move in the future, learning which smart upgrades will make your home more attractive to buyers is important.
Here are a few of the best smart home upgrades:
- Smart Thermostats – Energy-saving smart thermostats can sense when the home is occupied and vacant to control the temperature while saving energy costs.
Photo credit: Chris Monroe/CNET
- Smart Smoke Detectors and Security Systems – Life-saving smart security can alert you and the authorities automatically if there is a problem in the home.
- Smart Door Locks – Either as part of the security system or stand-alone, smart door locks allow you to control access to your home. Using Wi-Fi to unlock doors remotely and program unique codes for family, guests, housekeepers etc., you will always know by whom and when your home is accessed.
Photo credit: heavy.com
- Smart Moisture Sensor – Mold has become a huge problem. Smart moisture sensors detect water leaks, humidity, and temperature changes to protect your home from moisture damage.
These are just a few of the great smart home products available to make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Most starting under $250, these smart choices will not only protect your home but add value when listing for sale. These smart home products can make your home stand out over others.
Now that the warm summer months are behind us, it’s time to prepare for winter. Regardless of whether you expect to see sub-zero temperatures this season or you live in one of the warmer climates, preparing your home for colder weather can save you money and hassle this winter. So before you dig out your winter sweaters, take a weekend and prepare your home for the cold weather to come.
Fall is a great time to seal drafts in the home which can suck energy out. Check around doors and windows and replace worn weather stripping and caulking. If you use your fireplace for warmth during winter, this is the right time to have the chimney cleaned and checked for safety. Arrange a furnace tune-up complete with replacing the filter and vacuuming the vents to make sure you are warming your home efficiently.
Before the chill turns to freezing, head to the yard to winterize the exterior of your home. Check gutters for clogged leaves and other debris and examine the roof and siding for any repairs which could create leaks or drafts in the cold. If the gardening season is at its end, drain water from outdoor faucets and garden hoses. Make sure the sprinkler system is off and reinforce any exposed pipes which could burst with the cold.
Fall is here. Along with the smell of baking and falling leaves, you can ensure your home is ready for winter by taking a few steps now to prepare. Save energy and the hassle of an unexpected repair by getting some routine maintenance done before the cold months come.
Hunting for a new home online a is a great place to start your search but keep in mind that you don’t see everything. Real estate agents are great at highlighting the features of a house listing online but to make the most of your time, keep these three things in mind:
Identify your Housing Needs
Preferences are important when house searching. A house may not have everything you want but it will have most of the things. Be realistic about pricing and keep in mind the must-have items that will definitely be needed because this will help narrow your search.
Stay up to Date
When you start your search, make sure you go to sites with up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service. Realtors post their most current homes for sale through this. MANY sites fail to remove listings that are already off the market, and this can lead to you trying to sort through them and find the recent ones. I always recommend that my clients reach out to me to make sure the property is actually still on the market.
Pictures can be Deceiving
Photographers capture listings at their best. They use different strategies and tools to boost the appeal of the home like creative editing and expensive camera equipment known for its effects. Wide angle lenses can make a room appear much larger in a picture. You may not see all of the unappealing parts of the home, like an undone bathroom or small closet.
Go See The Listing
Searching online is a great way to learn more about the house you’re looking for. Even if you’re still unsure about moving, house hunting online gives you a way to see what is out there and to see if there is anything of interest to you.
After you have chosen a house that’s appealing to you, schedule a showing with your real estate agent. This is the opportunity to see every part of the house in person and see if it’s a good fit.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. The annual spring cleaning. The weather is warming up and it’s a sign to freshen up your home for the upcoming seasons.
Not sure where to start? Read on to find tips to make your spring cleaning easy and effective.
This is a great approach to make sure you’re not forgetting to clean other parts of the house. Create a checklist to the areas in each room that need an extra deep clean since they’ve been neglected during the winter. The areas that have been cleaned recently can be skipped.
Clear the Clutter
Get rid of the things that are not needed and get organized. Follow a process and create piles for the things that are going to trash, going to be given away, or stored.
Now is also a great time to have a garage sale or donate the items that are not needed.
Patios, grills, and windows that have been ignored during the winter, need special attention now.
Remove the excess grease from the grill and scrape off anything that has been leftover. Clean sliding doors and make sure to wipe down both sides of the window. Spray down patio furniture and use a handheld vacuum for any chair cushions.
Ask for Some Help
The more people that help, the faster it gets done.
Keep Cleaning Supplies Minimal
Stores offer so many cleaning supplies but there is no need to get all of it. Keeping it minimal will help you feel less overwhelmed and you don’t have to clean up so much afterward. Stick to a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths.
Establish Cleaning Habits
On-going cleaning habits can make the next spring cleaning easier. Clean up routines practiced every few days and quick chores can keep your home tidy for the most part.
Follow these tips to make it an easy spring cleaning every year!
We live in the information age; the Internet offers advice on every topic and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information – it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.
The truth is your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key or code. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying or selling process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transaction, therefore you don’t have to handle it alone.
Your real estate agent is a local professional. Your agent is someone who will work hard on your behalf and with others involved in the transaction to see it through to a successful conclusion. They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as lenders, title reps, escrow officers, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors, and handymen, among others.
Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying or selling process. They negotiate for you – armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs, and terms. If you are a buyer, they will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the condition and neighborhood. Whether buying or selling they will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies among other issues.
Photo credit: www.imindq.com
Yes, the Internet offers lots of great information, but the most important step you can take when buying or selling a home is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.