How the Coronavirus is Changing Home Buying

how coronavirus changed home buying process

Everything has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the U.S. two months ago.

And buying a home is no different.

We wanted to know exactly what has changed to prepare better people looking to buy a house, so we asked the experts.

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Agents are Still Showing Houses

Ashley Baskin, HomeLife Digest

Agents are still actively showing homes – the major difference now is that there are no open houses. Instead, buyers’ agents are taking their clients to view the homes that they have identified, and they are driving in separate cars. Also, the seller’s agents are not present. In most cases, there are many people allowed in the home at a time – usually two to three people. When COVID first hit the states, activity drastically slowed. However, over the last couple of weeks, it has begun to pick up again.

Most Home Tours are Being Done Virtually

Suzanne Pope, Whiterock Locators

While it may vary by state, homebuying is much different right now. All house tours are virtual, and if someone is really serious about buying the home, papers need to be signed, talks with a mortgage lender have needed to happen. Once all the necessary steps are taken, then the client has to go to the house when nobody is home, wear a mask and gloves, and then leave before the seller returns.

Unless someone knows the exact home that they want to purchase, it is very challenging to show houses right now. Everything is going to be slower, as well. Inspections and appraisals have to happen following social distancing rules, so that also adds on time. Due to this, the time it takes someone to close on a house will be much longer than normal during this time we’re in.

Mortgage Requirements have Changed

Nancy Brook, Billings Best Real Estate

Buyers need to realize that if they were prequalified before the pandemic, they need to return to the lender to see if they still qualify. Credit score qualifications have changed for some loan types. Buyers also need to realize that competition may still be fierce, depending on the market. Buyers who find a house they love shouldn’t dally. With the shortage of listings, homes are still moving quickly.

Home Inventory is Low

Julien Leclair-Dionne, HomeFluent Realty

Many people are interested in buying homes but not right now.  Most are waiting.  Housing supply that was already low is even lower because sellers are waiting.  With a contracting economy and soaring unemployment, the number of buyers is also considerably lower.  While we haven’t seen prices falling yet, prudent buyers are also waiting, expecting prices to fall if social distancing lasts much longer.  That would be the result of a surge of listing after Covid-19, which may not be met by a high level of demand.

Closing May Take Longer

Cynthia Lopez Olson, HomeLife Digest

Mortgage lenders are still providing loans to homebuyers – the only difference now is that they may be slower to execute. This is due to busy times (low-interest rates have driven many to refinance) and restrictions related to inspections. If homebuyers are motivated, they should be confident in their ability to move forward if they found a home that they want. The major downside with purchasing now is that inventory may be limited in some markets.

The Market is Picking Back up

Michael Lepson, Agent, Carolina One Real Estate

It appears that we are moving back up after hitting a low point about two weeks ago.  Showings are down about 35% from where they were a year ago, and homes under contract are down about 30%.  Showings are still taking place but with caution.  I personally will not be in the house with my clients but will check it before they go in and after they leave.  I also wipe things down that have been touched in the showing process.

The Home Inspection Process has Changed

Oscar Verduga, Trusted Realty Inspections Inc.

The inspection is now carried out with no one in the house. Only the inspector goes in with full protective gear on. The real estate agent and clients wait outside for the inspection to finish. Once the inspection is done, the inspector goes to his car and calls the clients to summarize the inspection. The payment is done electronically through etransfer or credit card payment over the phone. Later that day, the completed report is sent electronically.