In 2019, the idea of buying or selling a home during a global pandemic seemed inconceivable to many people. Nonetheless, millions of Americans did just that the following year. Like every other aspect of American life, the real estate process was tested by COVID-19, but homebuying and selling has continued despite the challenges, and in some ways, it’s arguably improved. Here’s what’s changed and what hasn’t.
Real estate remains essentially essential
When the term “essential service” was popularized last year, the real estate industry was probably not at the top of most people’s minds. Nonetheless, because access to proper housing and affordable financing is crucial, real estate services have almost always been deemed essential services through the various lockdowns and restrictions of the pandemic. This all but assures that homebuying, selling and financing will continue unabated through whatever is ahead.
Telephones and teleconferencing are popular
Over the decades, countless people have taken the first step to buying or selling homes by sitting down for coffee and to chat with their real estate agents or lenders. These days, you may be more likely to consult with your real estate team over video chat instead. While face-to-face consultations are making a comeback, for those who still prefer the caution or convenience of digital collaboration, real estate pros have never been so amenable to high-tech interaction.
Home showings show more social distancing
A crowded open house filled with smiling prospective homebuyers was once a joyous sight for every home seller. While that happy tradition is hopefully not far off from a return, in the meantime, several COVID precautions remain common in most of the country. These include a greater focus on Internet-based home shopping, more use of virtual home tours, mask wearing when entering homes and smaller groups at home showings.
More digits are reaching for digital mortgages
Even before the pandemic, digital mortgages were increasing in popularity, and the sudden demand for contactless home financing only accelerated that trend. While in-person mortgage consultations and pen-and-paper loan applications are sure to continue for those who prefer them, many borrowers will be glad for the more streamlined digital option. For example, with Draper and Kramer Mortgage’s DK Xpress digital mortgage process, a borrower can get preapproved for a loan, complete their application, submit necessary documents and sign forms – all from their computer or mobile device.
Appraisals flexibilities earned praise
Traditionally, an in-person visit from a home appraiser has often been required before a home can be financed. In response to COVID-19 concerns, mortgage agencies have been allowing for more flexible home appraisal methods, including appraisals based on exterior views of homes or available documentation. While these flexibilities may be phased out as the pandemic subsides, they’ve been a welcome accommodation for many people who’ve financed a home over the past year.
Closings are a little less close
The final step of a real estate transaction is the closing. This is an appointment where the homebuyer and the other parties involved sign the remaining paperwork and finalize the deal. Traditionally, this step takes place in an indoor setting and may last from 20 minutes to an hour or longer. These days, however, social-distancing-friendly closings have become more common, such as with large conference rooms, outdoor tables or even a “drive-up” option in vehicles. While the old way may make a comeback, it’s likely that quicker and more streamlined closings are the wave of the future.
Thankfully, the basics of buying or selling a home haven’t changed much despite the coronavirus, and what has changed should make a safe and more convenient transaction for you. If you’re considering a home purchase or refinance, reach out to get started with a free mortgage consultation.