A strategic approach to buying a home during a pandemic.. if you must.
Most of these tips are very prudent even if you are not risking exposure to a virus. We're talking about saving time, saving your exposure, saving the exposure of your agent, and the exposure of home sellers - everyone wants to feel confident that you're not just browsing homes but are truly ready, willing and able to buy.
Get Preapproved for a loan - First you need to be qualified for the right price for your budget. There's nothing worse than looking at $350000 homes on Zillow and then finding out you can only buy a $250000 house. Even in normal times, no home seller wants you to come into their home unless you have done this first step. I have several great lenders that I work with all the time, and they can take your application on the phone or you can apply on their website and get preapproved very quickly. ASK ME FOR A RECOMMENDATION.
Narrow down a location - Get to know the neighborhoods by driving through them. Research the locations you like using crimereports.com and greatschools.com. Buying a home is a process of elimination. Try to eliminate areas. Come up with a very strategic plan for choosing where you want to live.
Ask your agent to send you the homes by email - Your agent can set up an alert directly from the agent database called the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) so that every time a home comes on the market in the neighborhood you like, you'll get an email. If you share your needs with your agent you should be able to narrow the search down to your specific criterion and not waste your time looking at homes that don't match what you need. Zillow is great for initial education on the market but it is not current and up-to-date like the MLS. Phone conversations will take the place of a face-to-face meeting. The agent needs a full understanding of your needs so that you can really find what you're looking for.
Narrow down to 2 or 3 homes if you can -Your agent can help with this by reviewing a somewhat larger list with you by phone and helping you narrow down before going out. The agent has more information than is publicly available to you. For example you may not be able to see that it's a bank owned property or a short sale. Your agent can educate you on the challenges of these kinds of transactions and based on that conversation you may rule them in or out. Plan to spend some time in this phase on the phone.
View the homes virtually - After you drive by the ones you have chosen, ask your agent to go to the homes that are good candidates (you should have a list of 2 to 3 homes to "tour"). Use video chat. I do this all the time with folks who are relocating from out of the area.
Go see the homes in person - Only after your agent has done a preliminary video chat with you at the homes should you venture out to go into a home. Remember that many homes require appointments, so you have to plan ahead. Also there should be precautions in place to protect you and the seller from exposure to the virus. Your agent should have a plan for this - for example: Use Clorox wipes on door knob handles and switches. Use Hand sanitizer. Don't touch anything. Only bring the people in who are decision makers and not extra people. Leave your children at home. Don't venture out if you have a fever, a cough, or do not feel well. Your agent will probably be very strict about the rules that they follow. This is for your protection as well as for the protection of the sellers of the homes.
It can be a good time to buy if you are strategic with your plan with your agent. There is still low inventory, but sellers are very eager to sell. And interest rates remain at all time lows.
If this is not the right time to buy because you don't have a good reason for buying, you should wait. Some good reasons to buy right now... you are losing your lease, and you want to turn that rent money into home ownership. Or you are being transferred in for a job. It is not a great time to just go look at houses because you're living with your parents and not getting along. Be prepared to defend your motivation and readiness with your agent, because agents are not taking out unmotivated or unprepared buyers. If you can wait you should wait.
I'm happy to discuss a plan with you even if you are going to defer your purchase for a few months or even longer. There are tools that you can use to educate yourself and be a better buyer in the future. I have access to those tools and am happy to share them with you.
My mobile business card https://myexit.co/m/E13931
Peggy Palmer, Realtor® ABR® MRP CNE SFR
m- 301-848-8267 o- 301-934-2022
4550 Crain Hwy, White Plains, MD 20695