Despite media reports of an impossibly hot market, it is indeed possible to buy a house during the pandemic. COVID-19 has changed the process a bit, however, and if you’re in the market for a new home, you’ll want to pay attention to these Do’s and Don’ts for how to buy a house during the pandemic.
The most important thing to pack into your home-buyer’s tool box during a seller’s market is an extra dose of patience. And a seller’s market during a pandemic means you’ll need even more patience to navigate the process. Things that might be more frustrating than usual include:
Not being able to meet with your agent in person (we miss seeing you, too!)
Fewer listings means you might have to wait for something to bid on
Appointments taking longer to book, if even possible
Going into the buying process with a patient mindset will help you persevere with less stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to wait it out, talk openly with your agent about other options. We’re great at thinking outside the box.
Unless you’re able to go in with an offer that will blow all others out of the water, don’t expect to win the first property you bid on. The reality of the real estate market during the pandemic is that sellers are being bombarded with multiple offers and homes are commonly selling for far more than their listing price.
Disappointment is a natural response. But try not to let discouragement set in, or you may find that you start to second-guess the limits that you’ve set for yourself:
need for inspection
Only alter your conditions if you are absolutely able to manage the change. Don’t let a sense of discouragement sweep you into water that’s over your head.
More competition for fewer listings means that you might need to change a few things on your want vs. need list. You should also take time to think about how you’ll be using your home during and after the pandemic. COVID-19 impacts a number of lifestyle choices that might reshape your wishlist:
Will you continue to work/study from home?
Are more staycations a likelihood in your future?
Will family members be moving back home?
Have a clear understanding of your immediate and future needs so that you don’t end up with a property that doesn’t work for your lifestyle.
While real-estate agents, mortgage brokers and other key players in the home buying and selling sphere remain essential services, some others have been deemed non-essential. These businesses and services usually play a big role in helping home sellers to get their homes in tip-top-shape prior to listing:
Painters and fix-it-services
Professional home stagers
Thrift Stores and storage companies for decluttering
Listing photos might not be as flashy as pre-COVID-19 times, and homeowners may not have been able to de-clutter, clean, fix-up or stage their property the way they might have wanted to. Try to keep an open mind when viewing listings and look for the real bones of the property.
Not being able to visit open houses can be frustrating, we get it. But there is a lot of information to gain from knowing how to read a floor plan and looking deeper into the photos that are provided.
If you’re not already doing it, spend some of your free time surfing through listings so that you can get faster and more effective at understanding what you’re seeing:
What is the view from the windows (use Google Maps street view)
How do rooms flow into each other?
Which rooms are stacked over each other?
What pieces of furniture could actually fit on that wall?
A little bit of detective work on your part can help you get a fuller picture of how the property might feel when you finally get a chance to visit.
Whether visiting the home for a private viewing or during the inspection, you will most likely have to pass a COVID-19 screening questionnaire. Don’t take any unnecessary risks that might make you ineligible to visit the property such as travel or non-essential interactions.
Buckle up! The entire home-buying process is on hyper-warp-speed during the pandemic. Make sure that you are able to devote the time necessary to speed through negotiations if the seller takes interest in your offer. Serious buyers need to be prepared to drop everything and focus entirely on the home sale.
Since the process moves so quickly, be sure to have done all of your research and homework ahead of time. You won’t have time to stop and think about major decisions or ask the advice of friends and family once you are in the negotiation phase:
understand the different types of mortgages and financing
know your comfort / risk level regarding the need for home inspections
research utility, taxes and other expenses in the area you’re looking in
Home sellers have the luxury of sending offers back for more rounds and you will want to know exactly how much wiggle room you have ahead of time. Pre-arrange these things so that you can make your offer even more attractive for a home that you absolutely don’t want to miss out on:
sShort-list acceptable moving companies so that you only have to confirm availability
research availability and prices of storage units in case you need to stay in a hotel short-term
find out the terms of your current mortgage or lease so that you can decide whether or not you can afford any penalties for making quick changes
The Pandemic is no time to try your hand at buying a home on your own. The market is more competitive and aggressive than ever and you need a professional on your side to help you navigate wisely. COVID-19 has changed how homes are bought and sold, and you need someone in the driver’s seat who can anticipate what’s coming and what needs to be done to get you to the finish line first.
If you’re ready to start looking for your next home in the Ottawa area, reach out to the team here at Bob Blake. We’ve got what it takes to get you into your dream home, even in a pandemic!