There are far fewer more exciting nor more satisfying journeys than buying a home. However, in this unprecedented era of COVID-19, there are a few unique hurdles to overcome that homebuyers before you haven't had to conquer.
For example, since the coronavirus crisis came to a head, 84 percent of agents surveyed by HomeLight in its first quarter survey have shut down the traditional method of home showings known as open houses.
However, 55 percent of those agents reported doubling down on virtual tours, meaning that potential homebuyers such as yourself can view homes on the market from the comfort and safety of your home via the internet.
The great news is that you can still buy a home, even under these uncertain conditions. Below are a few other hurdles you might face along the journey and how to overcome them.
1. Pre-qualifying for a loan
The pre-approval process has changed a little bit since the virus hit. Mortgage overlays have become a very real part of the process. What is a mortgage overlay? It's simply a set of rules that the lender imposes in addition to already published guidelines. Those guidelines might include a higher down payment and a higher credit score than what was required a few short months ago.
So if you had already gotten preapproval for a loan, you might have to update that paperwork due to the mortgage overlays. But also, sellers and their agents are going to want to see that you're a serious buyer, so it's a good idea to have everything up to date and a solid down payment ready anyway.
2. Taking precautions
When you do find the home you think you want to buy, if you are able to do an in-home tour, how should you protect yourself? Start by asking your buyer's agent to find out whether the sellers have traveled recently. If they've been to a coronavirus hot spot, you might want to skip the visit.
Also ask if they've been practicing social distancing and for how long or if they work for an essential service. Based on those answers, you can decide whether to tour the home. If you do, consider wearing masks, gloves and booties to protect everyone involved.
3. Protecting your offer
Assuming you tour a home, fall in love and want to make an offer, what can you do to protect that offer? There is this little contract addendum that's popped up since COVID-19 started spreading nationwide. The COVID-19 clause might cover delays in closing if necessary government offices aren't available.
4. Getting through appraisals, inspections and closing
Appraisals might still be workable in your area, but some agents are also seeing a lot more drive-by appraisals - allowed through May 17, 2020, with current regulations.
Inspections might not be doable, depending on whether real estate is deemed essential or not in your area. But if you can get an inspection, don't expect to attend.
When it comes time to close, you might be allowed to attend, likely required to wear masks, or you might have a drive-through or curbside closing, signing papers in your car.
When it comes time to move, take precautions with your stuff. Here is a full guide to moving during coronavirus, starting with supplies needed and ending with unpacking and disinfecting your new home.
Ah, the voyage is over. You can kick back, relax and look at the pictures - all from the comfort of your brand new home.
Looking for more information on coronavirus?
Check out the infographic below.
Selling a Home This Spring? Here's What 500 Top Real Estate Agents Say You Should Do
Brought to you by HomeLight.