If you planned to purchase a home this Spring, you may be wondering if that is still possible given the Shelter in Place orders in effect…
The answer is yes.
There is a way to achieve that goal! The path to get there just looks a little different than it did before. Hint, there are lots more disinfecting wipes involved.
The homebuying process starts like it always does, with a buyer consultation. Typically, your agent would meet with you in person for this initial meeting. However, due to social distancing, we are now required to do all business activity virtually. While the Shelter in Place is in effect, 99% of your agent interaction will be via video conferencing, phone, email, or text.
After your agent meets with you to determine your goals and timeline, they will suggest that you start the loan process by getting pre-approved. This is not a step you should ever skip, but especially not now. In-person showings are being limited to only serious buyers who have a pre-approval letter from a reputable lender. The good news is, this canall be done over the phone and via email. Once you are pre-approved, your agent will email you listings that match your price point and criteria.
The biggest challenge with purchasing a home right now is in regards to showing property. Currently, only unoccupied homes are allowed to hold showings. Typically, most listings are occupied when they hit the market, so this affects showing availability quite a bit. (However, we may see that start to change, as we are counseling our sellers to relocate and sell the property unoccupied if at all possible.)
Before requesting an appointment to see the (unoccupied) property in person, you should seek out as much online information about the property as possible, to make sure it is a serious contender and really fits your needs. Digital/online marketing may include professional photos, video tours, Matterport tours, floorplans, and property booklets (provides more detail than a simple brochure). You can also ask if the listing agent will FaceTime you from the property to get a better idea of the layout and setting.
- Buyer must provide by declaration that to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu & have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19; and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for viewing the property at all times. (i.e. sign & submit C.A.R. Form PEAD, 4/20)
- All persons visiting a property will agree to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer prior to entry, and to wear disposable rubber gloves and a protective face mask, if one is made available.
- Only 2 buyers from the same household & the agent are allowed in the property and must maintain 6ft apart.
- Avoid touching any surfaces
- Allow the agent to open all doors
- Discuss the property with agent via video-conferencing/phone call after the showing to maximize social distancing efforts.
It is still possible to write an offer on an occupied property. If you haven’t seen it in person yet, however, you will want to discuss with your agent the option of including a contingency for viewing the property in person, or starting contractual timeframes after the property has been viewed, when it is deemed safe to do so.
If you determine you want to move forward with an offer, you will discuss and review the offer with your agent either over the phone, or preferable via videoconference. All documents will be signed online via Docusign. Also, make sure to discuss with your agent how to safely wire your earned money deposit & down payment to escrow.
Buyers are still able to perform during their due diligence period, to the extent that inspection companies are working. The one change is that Buyers and their agents are not allowed to be present for the inspections, however, we encourage our agents to arrange a phone call or virtual inspection consultation with the inspecting professional to review the findings of the report.
Lastly, once you’ve gotten past your due diligence and negotiation periods, you’re onto closing. Rather than signing a large stack of paperwork in the office with the escrow officer, you will Docusign the documents that don’t require a notary, and sign the smaller stack of documents requiring a Notary either at your home (but outside) or at the title company. Your agent can be present via video conferencing for any questions or concerns. Again, make sure to discuss how to safely wire your down payment to escrow. Once escrow is closed, your agent will arrange to safely delivery you your keys, and hopefully you have a professional cleaning lined up!
If you are thinking about buying and would like to chat with an agent about the process or the market, please email us and we will get you in touch with an agent in your marketplace.
Note: Buyers must be expressly made aware of the risks of entering a property: that it may be dangerous or unsafe and could expose them or others to coronavirus (COVID-19). Buyers are responsible for adhering to all COVID-19 protocols regarding social distancing and other CDC guidelines.