In a matter of months, the coronavirus has reshaped the lives and plans of countless Americans in big ways and small. If you’re one of the many households that was preparing to buy or sell a home this year, you may be wondering if you can still safely, smoothly and affordably accomplish that goal.
The good news is that home buying and selling is once again carrying on mostly as normal. Even at the height of the pandemic, real estate transactions continued. Now that everyone has had time to adapt to the realities of the coronavirus, changes have been made to allow buyers and sellers to make their moves with more peace of mind.
Here’s what’s changed (and what hasn’t) about buying or selling a home.
Real Estate as an Essential Service
When buying or selling a home, you’ll typically rely on the services of multiple real estate professionals. These often include a real estate agent, a mortgage lender, a home appraiser, a title company and more.
Thankfully, from the start of the epidemic, most states have designated these providers as essential services and permitted them to continue operating. That means you shouldn’t have to worry about any significant disruption to the services you need for your successful home sale or purchase.
Consulting Together from Afar
Over the years, countless people have taken the first step to buying or selling homes by sitting down for coffee and a 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. Along with phone calls, email and text messages, real estate professionals are leveraging all available methods to keep in close contact when they must remain physically distant.
Home Showings with Social Distancing
Not surprisingly, home showings are the part of the real estate process that has been most affected by COVID-19. Buyers are still touring homes for sale and sellers are still welcoming buyers into their properties, but many people are now doing so with added safety measures.
The National Association of REALTORS has issued guidance on how to conduct home showings amid coronavirus concerns. Here are some of the measures they recommend to real estate agents:
- Encouraging buyers to narrow their property search through Internet listings, photos, virtual tours and other technology to reduce the number of in-person showings
- Limiting the number of persons who may attend a showing, such as only four people total
- Adhering to social distancing recommendations
- Requiring all persons entering a property to sanitize their hands and wear personal protective equipment (e.g. face masks, foot coverings, gloves)
- Instructing those touring the home to avoid touching surfaces
- Complying with any requirements of the seller during the showing
More Digital Mortgages
Home financing is a necessity for most home purchases, and thankfully, it has been largely undisrupted by the coronavirus. During this period of social distancing, it’s even more important to work with a lender that offers a digital mortgage process. For example, through Draper and Kramer Mortgage’s website or DK Xpress mobile app, you can get preapproved for a loan, complete your application, submit necessary documents and sign forms – all electronically.
Fewer Home Appraisals
There’s good news for home appraisal requirements these days. In light of COVID-19 concerns, the mortgage industry has allowed for more flexible home value appraisal methods. These may include appraisals based on exterior views of homes or available documentation, neither of which require interior home visits from appraisers. Furthermore, some home financing situations don’t require appraisals at all.
Closings with Extra Personal Space
The final step of your real estate transaction is your closing. This is an appointment where you 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. Now, many real estate professionals are arranging social-distancing-friendly closings, such as with large conference rooms, outdoor tables or even a “drive-up” option in vehicles.
Real estate is considered an essential service for good reason. Having access to the right home for each stage of life effects everything from daily living to the household budget to school and employment opportunities. Thankfully, the basics of buying or selling a home haven’t changed much despite the coronavirus, and what has changed should help keep you safer when it’s time for you to make a move.
If you’re considering a home purchase or refinance, reach out to get started with a free mortgage consultation.