Like many home buyers, you are probably wondering if it’s possible to buy a house during our pandemic, given the restrictions that are currently in place and safety concerns.
The answer is YES, you certainly can, if you are serious about purchasing a home and are financially qualified. However, it’s important to understand how the buying process works since it’s different than it used to be.
Here’s what you should know, if you haven’t already been out looking at homes recently!
1. First, getting pre-approved with a qualified lender is more important than ever. Certainly you need to know what loan amount you qualify for, and what your monthly payments will be. However, because of the Covid-19 restrictions, you are more than likely going to need to show a written pre-approval in advance of a showing being scheduled.
The reason? Sellers and their agents want to ensure that anybody coming to see the home IS financially qualified to purchase it, not just looking for fun.
2. Most agents are going to require you to sign a Coronavirus Property Entry Advisory and Declaration (PEAD Form, from the California Association of Realtors) before a showing can occur. Sellers are asked to sign a form as well to acknowledge they understand the potential safety risks and to give permission for others to enter their homes.
Buyer agents, buyers, inspectors and others are requested to sign the PEAD form to acknowledge they understand the risks and will take appropriate precautions (e.g., masks, social distancing).
You must also sign the form stating “you represent that (i) to the best of your knowledge, you are not currently afflicted with, and have not knowingly, within the last 14 days, been in contact with someone afflicted with COVID-19, and (ii) you are not experiencing a fever, or signs of respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or other COVID-19 symptoms.” This is for everyone’s protection.
3. You may be required to verify you have viewed the MLS listing, photos, and any videos, including 3D virtual tours or walk-through videos, before seeing the home. Sellers want to feel comfortable you have seen everything and are still interested in the property.
4. Buyers and their agents are expected to follow all the Covid-19 guidelines including wearing a mask, observing social distancing of at least 6 feet, and using hand sanitizer before and after each showing. Gloves are recommended as well. You may be asked to wear paper booties provided by the seller.
5. Sellers often request buyers not touch surfaces, such as door handles, cabinetry, light switches, and countertops, during showings. Sellers often will leave lights on and doors open so buyers do not have to touch them. This is protection for all parties. Your agent, when wearing gloves, can open doors, etc. as needed but you should not do so.
6. While most homes can be seen in person, some homes are only available to see through a virtual tour (typically homes that are occupied, not vacant homes), hosted by the listing agent via Facebook Live, Zoom or other technology. More agents are doing 3D virtual tours and walk-through videos now to provide as much information to buyers as possible. If the sellers are requesting no showings your buyer agent may be permitted to show you the home through Facetime, Skype or Zoom. Agents will also sometimes do a live virtual open house, but you will likely find public open houses are not happening in our area.
7. It’s common for showings to be limited to 2 people, from the same household, and the buyer agent only – no children, relatives or friends. Showings must be scheduled in advance and may not overlap with other scheduled showings.
8. Once you have an accepted offer you will want to have a home inspection. Many home inspectors are going on the inspection alone and buyers are not permitted. You can of course discuss the inspection with the inspector when done (and some inspectors are using Facetime or video to review the results) and you will receive a written report with photos.
The MLS listings these days generally spell out the specific requirements for showings so your agent will know in advance what is expected. Some showing instructions are more restrictive than others, depending on the seller and the listing agent’s expectations. Even if there are no precautions noted, you will want to follow the CDC and state/county guidelines to protect yourself.
If you would like to know more about buying a home today’s market, or are curious about how the housing market is doing, please reach out to me at (760) 840-1360 and I’ll be happy to help you!