Shelter-in-place orders to curb the spread of COVID-19 has led more people to reflect on their living spaces. Some want to move out of the city and into the suburbs for safety. Others are now interested in buying their forever homes that will give them more space to do all the things they used to do outdoors: work, classes, exercise, and so on.
Thus, there is a huge demand for real estate. Buying a home in the middle of a pandemic is not entirely a bad idea, and many seem to think so. In a recent survey, 54% of the respondents said that they think now is a good time to buy a home. Besides, interest rates are lower than ever. It’s the lowest we’ve had since 1971. Property owners are also more motivated to sell their houses due to rising demand.
If you’re interested in buying a home, here are some changes in the industry brought by COVID-19 that you need to know:
In-person visits still exist in some markets. But they are limited due to social distancing protocols and to ensure the safety of all parties involved. As a result, real estate has taken the buying experience online. Open houses are conducted online, and so is house-hunting.
Looking for a new home in the current situation means looking at interactive 3-D models of houses on your phone or computer. Some models have customization features. They can show you what a house would look like after certain changes, such as adding a fireplace or a larger garage space.
But not all properties have navigable 3-D walkthroughs available. In this case, you can watch prerecorded videos of house tours online. You can also request a livestream from your agent via Zoom or FaceTime.
Heavy Reliance on Your Agent
This new virtual experience can be a good thing. It makes the house-hunting process much more efficient. But this also means that you’ll have to rely on your real estate agent more than you would have in the past.
When buying a home during the pandemic, your agent will be doing most of the work for you. They will inspect the property and check for red flags or features that you might have missed. So you must choose someone you can fully trust. In this case, your best bet may be agents from a virtual real estate brokerage that grants full commission. They are well-trained in providing their services online. Thus, technical issues regarding the digital home-buying experience are minimized.
Competitive Bidding Wars
Some areas have a particularly high demand for houses, which results in low inventory. So some homes sell out only a few hours after they’re posted. Also, other sellers receive dozens of offers for each property.
The key to winning in competitive bidding is an attractive offer that the seller will find hard to resist. For instance, you could try expressing that you’re willing to close the deal as soon as possible. You could also avoid asking for extras such as leaving some pieces of furniture in the house. If your seller sees that you’re willing to take the property on an “as is” basis, they might be convinced to give it to you.
Financing your real estate purchase can also now be completely contactless. Mortgage loan applications are now online. You can submit the needed documents via email or through delivery.
And once the financing part has been settled, you’ll find that even closing the deals is contactless as well. Documents that you need to sign will be sent straight to your door and picked up from you after. Contract signing may take place via Zoom meeting so that you can easily ask questions or clarify things in the contract.
This may take away some thrill in buying a house the normal way. There is a great sense of accomplishment in shaking hands with your seller and your agent after closing a deal and having your house keys given to you directly. But these things are easy to trade over safety and extra convenience.
The positive changes in the real estate industry brought by the pandemic will make your buying experience better. Everything is virtual and contactless to keep you and others safe. And you can take advantage of the low interest rates.
Some people claim that now isn’t the right time to buy a house. But if you think about it, buying a house or any other property comes with risks, pandemic or not. If you’re financially ready to buy a house, then it doesn’t really matter what others say.