Practical Real Estate Tips for the COVID 19 Lockdown Part 2: Buyers
If you missed part one of this series, which addressed the issues home sellers are facing right now, you’ll find it here.
TOP REAL ESTATE TIPS FOR ACTIVE BUYERS
No. 1: Keep in close contact with your agent and lender to keep tabs on industry reaction to the pandemic. Make sure they (and you) are following recommended COVID-19 protocols. Be understanding if a seller declines your request to visit their property during this pandemic and respect their personal decisions regarding the health and welfare of themselves and their family.
No. 2: Consider the many pros and cons of physically visiting homes in person at this crucial time. Seriously consider screening homes by requesting online tours in lieu of in person appointments. If you find a home you’d like to see that doesn’t have a tour posted, ask your agent to inquire if the listing agent is willing to encourage their sellers to film a tour on their phones to pass along for your initial screening.
No. 3: Talk with your agent about the pros and cons of making offers on properties you’ve seen virtually but not in person. Get familiar with contingencies that could protect you and amendments addressing the ramifications of purchasing during the COVID-19 crisis.
No. 4: Understand that delays in closing timelines may be inevitable. Talk to your lender about any situations you are facing that may impact your purchase. Thoughtfully consider the pros and cons moving forward with your purchase plans in light of world economic changes. Look for the silver lining like low interest rates and less buyer competition.
TOP REAL ESTATE TIPS FOR SOON-TO-BE HOMEBUYERS
No. 1: Ask for a recommendation for several local agents then explore them online and contact them. Take note of their initial enthusiasm, professionalism and response time. Ask them to send you sales statistics of homes in your price range, in your favorite neighborhoods, or with your physical criteria. It’s important to get a feel for what your money will buy before you start pounding the pavement.
No. 2: Contact at least two lenders to start building relationships and get on their mailing lists about rates and get tips on how to best improve/maintain your credit.
It’s often best to work with a mortgage broker, as they have usually have access to the but choose someone you feel has been most responsive and helpful (and whom you trust the most) when you find a home and want to lock in a rate.
Start gathering information a lender will require for loan processing and get pre-approved!
No. 3: Start making a list of MUST HAVES vs. WISH LISTS so that you have criteria to share with your agent. Ask for recommendations and contact an agent even before you want to explore properties in person.
They can best advise you about the process and start sending you listings that match your specifications to give you a feel for the market well before you start touring. If you are buying with a spouse or partner, be sure to get on the same page at the start of your search so you fully understand and agree on each other’s “make or break” features.
No. 4: Refine your budget to get prepared for the expenses of home ownership starting with costs associated with your purchase. Start saving money to cover the earnest money deposit and buyer-paid inspections. Even though most buyers roll their actual lender closing costs into the loan, there are many upfront expenses to consider.
While contemplating costs, be sure to ask your lender contacts for “good faith estimates” and “truth in lending” statements so that you can compare their fees, total monthly payment projections for your price range and annual percentage rates (which are more important than the actual interest rate they quote).
No. 5: Know your rights as a buyer and educate yourself on the pitfalls of dual agency, which is when buyers work with the seller’s listing agent to help you with the purchase.