How COVID-19 Is Changing the Home Buying Experience

Couples searching for a new home

While the US economy is reeling due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, one area that has surprisingly remained stable is the real estate industry.

Due to low mortgage rates, homes in many cities are selling almost as briskly than before the virus made its impact on our social landscape. Recent data has shown that homes are selling quickly, and for prices that are close to or above asking price.

Additionally, the percentage of homes selling at or more than their list price has been above 90% over the past several years. More affordable prices were made possible by low mortgage rates, since they allow buyers to make monthly payments more manageable.

In case you’re searching for homes for sale in Central Georgia, here are a few things you should expect in this new home buying landscape in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic:

Is now the right time to buy a home?

We still don’t know how long the world will continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. Real estate markets throughout the US are also affected differently, which presents different conditions for home buyers in specific areas, so providing a definitive answer to this question is impossible.

However, as long as you have a stable job, find a home that’s ideal for you, and are able to get financing at low rates, then buying a home right now is still a smart move, as delaying your purchase will likely result in paying a higher price.

Obtaining a mortgage can be more challenging

With the sharp increase in the country’s unemployment rates, mortgage servicers have their hands full with providing assistance to homeowners. While mortgage rates are at record lows, they are currently in flux, which makes it more difficult for buyers to lock in a rate.

Increased safety measures during home viewings

Since the COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through person-to-person contact, one of the things that has changed the most in the home buying process are home viewings.

To prevent the further spread of the virus, people need to exercise social distancing, wash their hands frequently, and wear masks to stop the spread of respiratory droplets.

Many new protocols designed for social distancing have been implemented by real estate agents. Most agents handling owner-occupied homes facilitate measures to verify whether occupants are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms before they conduct showings or virtual tours.

For increased safety, some home sellers also choose to have only their agent present during a showing to accompany a prospective buyer, instead of letting in new agents with every new buyer who enters their home.

Alternative home appraisal methods

You typically need to get a home appraisal before you can get a mortgage. Conventionally, an appraiser will take a look at the home to evaluate its condition as part of the assessment.

Today however, lenders offer some alternatives so appraisers no longer need to enter properties. Some alternative methods include online desktop and drive-by appraisals, with appraisers relying on market trends and other data along with images of the home in order to estimate its value.

Online virtual tours

A better and safer option than in-person home viewings are video tours, which have become more widely used than ever before. You’ll be able to find listings that feature video tours, virtual walkthroughs, interactive floor plans, and other features that can give you a detailed look at a property, all through your computer or mobile device. There are also some real estate agents who physically visit properties and set up a live virtual tour by connecting with clients through Zoom or FaceTime.

In addition to virtual tours, other steps in the home buying process such as negotiating, signing contracts, and closing can now be completed remotely.

Limited interactions at closings

Some states allow electronic deed filings and online notary options for closings. Digital alternatives such as these, however, are not fully adopted everywhere, which means you may still need to sign some documents in person.

Before the pandemic, closings were usually attended by real estate agents along with the homebuyer and their families, who sometimes hold a small celebration during the event. Now however, closings tend to be quieter, as many documents are now signed digitally and only the essential persons need to be present. The setting has changed as well – some perform real estate closings outdoors or across a long table to follow social distancing guidelines.

If you’re searching for the best houses for sale in Houston County, GA, connect with us at Warner Robins Home Search today by calling 478.832.0388, or send an email to jasonleerealestate1(at)gmail(dotted)com