How to Continue Your Home Buying Journey While Staying Safe at Home
Before the coronavirus crisis, what were your home buying goals?
As the current pandemic impacts our lives and businesses, we're all left wondering how long will it last. Many families are affected, our frontline workers are risking their own health to save lives, and the economy is expected to have a cycle of downturn. “Non-essential” businesses and services are closed to restrict activities, and we are given a critical stay-at-home order to help flatten the curve.
Major changes have been imposed in the real estate industry, including new policies and guidelines when buying and selling homes. Such policies include strict social distancing, proper and frequent disinfection, and other recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With extreme measures in place, many people have decided to put off buying a home for now until this health crisis settles down.
But there are some who are still looking to pursue their real estate plans this year or just want to continue their house-hunting journey even while staying home. If you’re one of them, here are three things you can do to keep your home search on track while giving your best to stop the spread of the virus.
1. Do as much online research as possible.
You may have restricted outdoor and social movements for now, but you can translate it into more time to do research that will definitely be a huge help in your home buying journey. Take this time to do some legwork and investigate these stats and information so you can have a clear path forward once the lockdown is over:
- Median price of homes sold in your area
- Average days on the market before sale
- Schools zones and school reports
- Transport links
- Property taxes
- Crime rates
- Local neighborhood facilities, such as parks and gardens
- Neighborhood groups and organizations
- Common HOA fees, rules, etc.
Likewise, take this time to:
- Check various down payment assistance programs available in your area.
- Investigate ways you can reduce your closing costs.
- Assess your cash flow.
- Determine your budget.
- Figure out how much you need to set aside for annual home maintenance and repairs.
- Make a clear list of your must-haves (want vs need).
2. Connect with a trusted real estate agent.
Because of the quarantine, many brokers and agents are also working remotely and maximizing technology in conducting their businesses. You can call or virtually connect with your trusted real estate agent to be informed about the local property market and ask for any general advice. Schedule video consultations through apps like Skype, Zoom, or Facetime to let them know what you're looking for.
A reliable realtor will also listen to how you feel about this pandemic, especially if you’re feeling stress or anxiety about the ongoing uncertainty. You may not be inclined to go through showings and buy a home for now, and a good real estate agent will understand that. When you hire such an agent, you know you haven’t just found someone who will help you work through the complex homebuying process when this crisis is over—you’ve also gained a lifetime friend!
3. Take advantage of virtual house tours.
If you don't want to put your homeownership plans on hold even if you're stuck inside, you can still look online for available listings and properties in your target area. Because of cancelled open houses and showings to prevent the spread of virus, taking a virtual or digital tour is becoming the new norm.
Thanks to cell phones, drones, 3D cameras, and other software and hardware, potential buyers are now able to conduct a walk-through of the properties instead of just relying on online pictures. You can even ask your agent if a 360 degree virtual viewing of the home is available. With social distancing measures in place, you can now live chat or FaceTime your agent to have them walk you through a property, or check the surrounding areas and neighborhood. They won’t hesitate to advise you on what is being allowed in your state or area when it comes to virtually shopping for homes.
Our usual activities may have been put on the sidelines for now, but with the guidance and advice of experts, continuing your home buying journey is still possible. We may press pause on our home buying plans, but it's better to always be ready and informed about what’s happening in the market. It’s being hopeful and wise, and a great reminder that this too shall pass.