5 Buyer Questions during Coronavirus Answered
Like you, I'm concerned during this difficult time about so many things. While I'm taking every possible precaution to keep myself, my family, my colleagues and my clients as safe as possible, I realize there are so many questions and concerns amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying process smoothly during the pandemic.
Here are a few common buyer questions as they related to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.
1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent and any fast-changing governmental policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or Face Time home tour virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to pre-screen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs. I, personally, have video tours in place for my own listings. I use zoom or hangouts to provide virtual tours to allow my clients to rule a property in or out before scheduling in person tours. Keep in mind, it is much easier to view a vacant property than an occupied one. Understandably, many sellers are just not comfortable letting others into their homes right now.
2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority; this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. If you are going to see a home in person during this time, carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during and after the tour. Drive separately from your agent meet at the homes. During the tour, designate one person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the showing. I do provide hand sanitizer and disposable gloves for my clients should they not have their own during any in person viewings and am adhering to social distaning guidelines for physical proximity to each other.
3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? –Most real estate contracts include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to set the right expectation. NJAR has recently created a Covid-19 addenda to address this specific concern during this unprecedented time which offers additional protection in the event of Covid-19 related job loss. Please be sure to ask your agent to append it to your purchase contract.
4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – It’s very common for the buyer to have easy access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections, appraisals and just measuring are all common reasons to visit the home during escrow. Consider grouping these activities whenever possible. Again, an unoccupied home will clearly be easier to access as there is less concern. If the home you're purchasing is occupied, asking sellers to vacate while any of these common processes occur is very reasonable and may help to alleviate stress over too many people in the home simultaneously.
5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – While here in the local area we were in the midst of a seller's market, the current crises and potential long term effects (economic, social, etc.) do change perspective. We all know there’s no crystal ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it.