Just as home sellers have been thrown for a major loop by COVID-19, many of today’s buyers are suddenly wondering how or even if they should proceed with their home search.
In an encouraging sign, a number of @properties homebuyers have in fact closed on purchases and gone under contract in recent days. But questions about safety, near-term financial impact, and changing personal situations have, understandably, forced many buyers to take a step back.
While no one knows exactly when things will normalize, the general consensus is that real estate won’t face a long, drawn-out recovery like the one that followed the 2008 recession. That downturn was caused by real estate, but in most other recessions, home price appreciation has continued, and the housing market has even driven economic recovery.
With that in mind, there are many things buyers can do now to stay informed about local market conditions, monitor inventory, and even continue viewing properties – all with an eye toward getting back into the market.
Here’s a short list:
Stay in Touch with Your Agent
If you were well down the home-buying path when COVID-19 became a full-blown crisis, chances are you’ve communicated with your agent a lot in recent days. Good. Keep in touch. In times like these, there are no stupid questions and no such thing as too much information. Your agent’s experience, resources and boots-on-the-ground knowledge matters more than ever, so maintain that dialogue. We want to hear from you.
Watch for New and Pre-Market Listings
While things have slowed significantly, new listings are still coming on the market almost every day. Other sellers, who were just about to list their homes, have decided to wait until later in the year. But with photos and marketing materials ready to go, some of those sellers will still put their homes on pre-market apps that are exclusive to real estate agents, such as Zenlist and @properties’ own @gent App.
While these homes are not advertised publicly and won’t be found on mainstream websites, they are for sale. Depending on where you are in your home search, ask your agent to key you in on activity in this “market within a market.” It can be quite active in times of low inventory and irregular market conditions – both of which describe our current state.
Explore Virtual Tour Options
While in-person showings are in many cases postponed, there is plenty of technology that allows you to view property in other ways. It’s just a matter of getting accustomed.
Ask your agent about virtual showing options for homes you want to see. There may already be a professional video, 3D virtual tours, or pre-recorded walkthroughs that sellers’ agents can provide. Some agents are also conducting live-streamed video showings via FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
Make Sure Your Pre-Approval Is Current
An up-to-date mortgage pre-approval (or proof of funds if you are a cash buyer) is essential if you are actively searching for a home right now. For one, any seller in today’s environment deserves to know that a buyer at least has the wherewithal to purchase their home before they enter the residence. Second, recent volatility with mortgage rates could potentially change the loan amount – up or down – that buyers can qualify for or afford. Talk to your mortgage broker to make sure your pre-approval is current. Don’t have a mortgage broker? Ask your agent for a referral.
Request a Digital CMA
Whether you’re just doing some preliminary research or preparing to make an offer on a specific home, a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) will give you insights into local market activity and pricing.
At @properties, our exclusive Digital CMA tool uses real-time data from the local MLS, ensuring you have accurate, actionable market info. You can even interact with the report, flagging properties you want to include and posting comments for your agent to review.
We know it’s a harrowing time to be a homebuyer, but there are things you can do to gain more control over the situation and be better prepared to act when the time is right for you. We’re here to guide you every step of the way. So don’t hesitate to reach out to your agent or contact us any time.