- Is this a good time to buy or sell, or should I wait?
This is the million-dollar question! Despite what seems like an endless amount of doom and gloom, the reality is that people are still buying and selling real estate.
Although there are some new rules of the road involved, with some localities having more stringent requirements than others, the buyers and sellers in the market today are more serious than ever. There may be fewer of them, but the ones that are out there are making decisions. At this point in time, they likely have confidence about their jobs and financial situation.
In addition, there may be fewer buyers that you are competing with, particularly if you are in a price range or area that tends to be a seller’s market most of the time. If you have lost out on homes before, now may be the optimal time to get in the game without the additional pressure of getting into a multiple-offer situation.
If you are a seller, you are likely to have less showing traffic, but the buyers that are looking — either in person or virtually — are likely a guaranteed prospect. It’s just a matter of what home they pick. The online views on HAR.com have never been higher!
You will likely have less competition, as some sellers have chosen to take their properties off the market during this time. Buyers that are looking now most likely need to find something within the next 30-60 days. They may not be able to wait it out until the pandemic passes. Wouldn’t you rather have three serious buyers come through over a span of two weeks versus having ten showings in a week for buyers who don’t really know what they want?
- If I’m a buyer, how will showings work?
Showing protocols have been put in place by nearly every Realtor association throughout the country. This means that there will be a bit more preparation involved than before.
If physical showings are allowed, agents and buyers will travel separately in their own vehicles and meet at the property. They will wear protective gloves and masks and use hand sanitizer, wipes or cleaning products to sanitize anything they touch.
As a buyer, plan on bringing your own supply of gloves, masks and soap as these supplies are limited. Real Estate Companies didn’t stockpile these items!
Practically speaking, agents and buyers should not be touching anything or placing any personal belongings like purses or cell phones in a home they are going through. If you must carry your phone with you, clean it before entering the property, place it in an unused zip-close bag, and keep it on you at all times.
Agents wearing protective gloves should be the only ones touching doors for entry. Agents will likely wait outside as buyers tour the home. You can then get back in your respective cars and share feedback about the home via a phone call.
In some cases, sellers may not want any physical showings of the inside, but may allow a virtual walk-through via a video call.
We’re in an unprecedented time, so, as a buyer, it’s important to stay flexible when it comes to how showings are conducted.
Keep in mind that you may be required to sign an addendum prior to physically seeing a property, as required by the Realtor association or the real estate brokerage that has the listing. You might have to attest that you’re not sick (or have been potentially exposed to someone who is) or have not traveled recently, to the best of your knowledge.
Lastly, if you are interested in new construction, builders are working by appointment only and limiting traffic into their models. This is why it’s so helpful to work with agents who are well-versed in new construction.
- What about getting a mortgage loan?
Maybe you’re gainfully employed with verifiable income, and you don’t foresee any changes affecting your job within the near future. Maybe you’re in an industry that’s in demand in today’s environment. Then, you’re in luck.
This isn’t the time to work with someone who is not located in the area where you’re buying the property. Don’t go online and shop rates. It isn’t about finding the lowest rate. It’s about working with a lender who will be able to get you to the closing table — someone who won’t over-promise and under-deliver. Many lenders have increased their requirements for lending. Listen to agents when they caution you about lenders, and suggest working with their go-to contacts. There’s a reason they are recommending the ones they are providing. Be wary of working through mortgage brokers who may have no control over their loans right now. Be aware of current lending guidelines for the kind of loan you qualify for and how that could affect you.
Don’t do anything foolish to mess with your debt-to-income ratios. As tempting as it is with zero-percent interest rates on car purchases for example, if you’re planning on buying a home, this is not the time to trade up and buy something new — no matter how stable or profitable your job is. Do not open up any new credit cards, buy furniture, or take any paycheck advances.
Rates can jump all over the place. There may be multiple price changes in one day, so when an attractive rate is available, lock it in. Comply with the lender to submit all required documentation as soon as possible. Dragging your feet is not advised.
- What if someone in the transaction gets sick or loses their job? What if there’s a delay caused by COVID-19?
Luckily, there is an addendum for that. Numerous Realtor associations have developed various addenda that speak to these situations and allow time to extend the contract and/or potentially terminate the agreement, which should provide some piece of mind for all involved.
We are in uncertain times, and there are no guarantees when it comes to buying real estate. Unforeseen circumstances and delays may happen, because of all the parties involved in making a real estate transaction, including appraisers, inspectors, contractors, lenders, surveyors, etc. These addenda allow a way to move through the process with some assurance.
- What’s the process for putting a home on the market it today’s climate?
A lot of this depends on where the property is located. Some areas have stricter requirements, which could affect the ability of the property to get photographed, staged and more. Thankfully, real estate has been deemed an essential business in many areas of the country. This allows some form of listing and home-selling to move forward, in addition to the related businesses that are involved in the process.
Listing appointments will likely need to be a more virtual meeting between the listing agent and seller via video chats. It could be tough to share information this way, which is why a virtual presentation may be much easier. A video walk-through of the property could be done with the seller.
Cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging furniture where needed can usually be accomplished on some level by the current owners. This is in addition to efforts for curb appeal, like pressure washing, planting flowers, and freshening up ground cover. Keep in mind that, given today’s situation, buyers may be a bit more forgiving if a home is not in tip-top condition.
In places where photographers are allowed to conduct business, they are going to be wearing gloves, masks and taking necessary precautions to minimize physical contact with contents in the home. They’re asking sellers to have all the lights on and curtains open. They’re also requesting that sellers turn on items like fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and fountains prior to their arrival. That’s so they can concentrate on taking pictures without having to touch things. It is recommended that sellers not to be present during the shoot.
During this time, it’s also worth getting a 3D tour or a professionally produced property video (complete with aerial shots) done. Buyers and their agents are going to lean towards homes that make virtual showings easy and bring the property to life. Now more than ever, it’s a good idea to put the power of video to work and using the power of RREA Media, we get that done for you!