The Age of Coronavirus has changed everything, and new details seem to emerge every day that alter how the housing market will come to operate again, once the pandemic passes.
Right now, existing home sales have hit their lowest level in a decade as much of the country has stayed home during the pandemic.
But housing is a basic need, the housing market is incredibly durable, and the decision to purchase a home usually marks a new stage in life.
- Newlyweds combine incomes, buy a house, move in together.
- Parent couples grow families, need space, expand to accommodate a baby.
- Adult children leave, never really leave, empty-nesters downgrade to clean fewer square feet.
So how will the real estate market march on? How can a DECU Member navigate the many online worlds of buying and selling homes in the Age of Coronavirus?
Here we publish the Top 5 Tips for Buying a Home Right Now
1. Online photo albums, 360 virtual home tours and live-streamed open houses.
Realtors long ago pioneered the online home viewing experience, and photographers have built careers on stunning photos of stunning homes and their stunning interiors.
You will be stunned. Stunned indeed. So much stunning you might miss the mold in the shower grout, or the window that faces out into a dull wooden fence, or the oil drippings in the garage.
Learn to interpret the language of real estate photography online. Are there more photos of the exterior than the interior? The inside might need work.
Closed curtains and blinds usually hide lousy views. Bathroom photos focused mostly on the sink, could mean the bathroom is awkward and small. Photos could look stretched out to make a room appear bigger.
Some listing terms are red flags as well. A “fixer-upper” can mean a great investment or a money pit, and “cozy” often means the home is small.
2. Be prepared for a potentially longer closing.
Once an offer is accepted, it is usually a straight line to closing. But in the Age of Coronavirus, this journey is more of a zig-zag. This means buyers need to prepare for potential delays.
The miracle of modern personal communications technology means that many professionals are adapting quickly to remote work when possible. Most title companies are in fact running at full speed to satisfy heavy demand, though delays may arise as paperwork procedures fill up their email inboxes.
Appraisers, home inspectors, and repair contractors are all adjusting their guidelines and availability to address all our mutual health and safety concerns, which necessarily slows the transaction.
To close on time, consider opting for a 60-day closing period instead of the more typical 30-day or 45-day, as having a longer closing gives you some flexibility when scheduling a settlement date with your title company.
3. If and when you must, visit in person.
You can avoid human contact almost entirely if you only ever shop for most things online. Pizza. Socks. Pet beds. But eventually you need to go talk to people face-to-face and view a house in person.
If and when you do tour a house in person, wear a face mask and gloves. Also make sure to wear protective booties, though agents generally provide these even in normal times. Dispose of all your protective gear properly when done.
Do not touch anything in the home and keep approximately six feet distance from the real estate agent.
For small homes and apartments, you could ask the agent to open the front door and wait in the kitchen while you tour the house on your own.
Better yet, use smartphone video call features and let them narrate your livestream. Record the stream for later recall.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after you leave the home.
4. DECU Mortgage Calculator
The decision to refinance a home mortgage can involve many factors. You might want to take cash out of your home when you refinance to use for other purposes. You may find yourself living through a renovation and see greater possibilities to expand. You might be ready to move.
The most common reason for a mortgage refinance is to take advantage of a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments.
How do most people come to the decision to refinance their mortgages? One way is by running the numbers themselves, with one of DECU’s 27 specialized online financial calculators.
With DECU’s Mortgage Refinance calculator, members can ask the mathematical question “Is It Time To Refinance?” and get instant results to learn whether their old loan is still working just fine, thank you very much, or if it’s time to take advantage of DECU’s Best-In-Market loan rates, DECU’s lifetime membership and a free no-obligation consultation with a DECU mortgage expert.
5. DECU Online Mortgage Loan Center
You will find plenty of assistance options in our Online Mortgage Loan Center. The Online Mortgage Loan Center is located behind the secure login at Online Banking.
It is a great place to find:
- Home purchase and mortgage refinance info.
- The latest DECU Best-In-Market mortgage rates.
- All the online forms you need to complete a full application.
Online you can prepare yourself adequately, but we ask your patience, please, as heavy inquiry volumes are leading members to encounter longer than average wait times when calling DECU, or delayed responses to email inquiries. We are here, we are working for you as fast as we can.
Thank you for your patience.