5 Questions Buyers Have During COVID-19 Answered
Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of COVID-19. During this time, buyers have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they relate to Coronavirus and real estate:
1. Can we still go see home listings in person? This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Zoom or FaceTime home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to pre-screen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs.
2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? Everyone’s health has to be the priority. This includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. If you are going to see a home in person during this time, carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during and after the tour. Drive separately from your agent meet at the homes. Wear a mask. Your agent should have coordinated the showing with the seller's agent so that all the lights are turned on and all doors and closets are open to walk through without having to touch anything. During the tour, only 2 people from the same household are allowed to view the property and the seller should vacate (for owner-occupied homes in the State of California - check your state's guidelines as well as the CDC for your comfort and safety).
3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation. There have also been several new COVID-19 forms that the California Association of Realtors has put in place as a fail safe for situations such as these.
4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? Home inspections, appraisals and just measuring are all common reasons to visit the home during escrow, but consider grouping these activities whenever possible. Many inspections and appraisals are being done by exterior only with the contingency added that should anything go wrong after the close of escrow it would be addressed. Please note it will be very difficult to do inspections while the property is still owner occupied, and all parties must agree on the terms and precautions outlined by the CDC.
5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to the COVID-19 outbreak is causing some uncertainty among home buyers, sellers, and even agents. However, with the use of technology and following best practices, you can still find the home you’ve been waiting for during this time.