What Does COVID-19 Look Like for Home Buyers? Virtual Showings, Low-Interest Rates, & Much More
The spread of COVID-19 into a global pandemic has created a substantial market downturn that impacts many industries, including real estate sales. As a home buyer looking to move forward in your home buying process, this can feel like an exceptionally difficult time to be considering your options, but there are ways to proceed. The keys along the way are to take advantage of technology, mind the advice of a trusted agent, and pay attention to the coronavirus’ affects on the spring housing market.
Social Distancing During The House Hunt
There are many face-to-face moments in your house hunt during a normal home search: you might begin by touring homes, attending some open houses, and then having in-person meetings of various kinds that lead up to closing. During this period of social distancing, many parts of the home purchase process are adapting and changing to make it possible to proceed.
Many realtors are offering virtual showings and open houses where you can use high-quality digital video to learn more about a home. Your buyer’s agent can help you get a complete picture of how the house fits in the neighborhood and in the local market, giving you ideas for if and how you will place an offer and proceed toward a sale. If your location has a shelter-in-place or safer-at-home order, pay attention to any rules and guidance that might impact your decision to potentially still do an in-person walkthrough while maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people.
Locking In a Low-Interest Mortgage Rate Now
In an effort to keep the economy moving through this period of physical isolation, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, creating an opportunity that could lead to very competitive mortgage interest rates. If you feel ready to buy a home in the midst of this uncertainty, one benefit might be locking in a mortgage rate at this low level. Make sure to speak with your agent about the relative benefits that this interest rate change could bring to you over the life of your mortgage.
Inspections and Appraisals During COVID-1
In spite of the excellent rates you could get on a mortgage now, not every element of buying a home during coronavirus is likely to be smooth in every state. If any of the companies with whom you’d need to work are deemed ‘non-essential businesses,’ they may not be able to offer their services and move your home purchase forward.
Talk with your agent to discover whether appraisals and inspections are moving forward in your area. Once you have the facts, you can make a decision about your options. For instance, “alternative appraisals” have been approved until mid-May by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, offering the key aspects of an appraisal but without putting appraisers in as substantial contact with the home or seller as usually would happen. This was temporarily allowed in order to keep the flow of home purchases moving forward without creating potential spread of coronavirus. Similarly, inspections of the home should be done with great care to not endanger anyone with virus spread, given that coronavirus can be spread without symptoms appearing immediately.
If you are willing to make use of your technological resources, discuss the current restrictions in your own state and municipality, and do your background research on a potential home, you may indeed be able to proceed with a home purchase during this experience. It can also be a great time to do extensive research for a home purchase that you pause until the coming months, especially if your state has restricted some aspects of the home sales industry at this time.
For more on COVID-19 and the HomeLight’s Top Agent Insight Survey from Q2