You’ve made a decision to buy your first house, or a new one, and you’re ready to put on that face mask and go house hunting.
Hold on, just a moment. There are some things that should be in place, and important stuff you should know, before setting up appointments to see homes you like.
This goes without saying. How can you realistically shop for a home when you really don’t know how much you can afford, or know for sure that you qualify for a mortgage? What loan program is best for you and your financial situation? How much down payment do you need? What are your estimated closing costs? Are there credit issues you aren’t aware of?
But the practical issue is that you may be asked to provide a written pre-approval letter before a showing can occur…at least in my neck of the woods. Sellers and their listing agents want to be sure that whoever is coming through the home during the pandemic is qualified to purchase the home. No pre-approval, no showing.
If you are fortunate to be able to use cash for your purchase, good for you! But you may be asked for your proof of funds (POF) in order to a showing to be confirmed.
KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY NEED
It may be more important than ever these days to have a good grasp on what you really need in your new home and community, including the lifestyle issues (e.g., proximity to shopping, schools). Once you know what you can afford you can focus on those needs…and not a long wish list. With limited choices for many buyers, you need to consider what’s most important and be aware of the need for tradeoffs of the features that are less important.
Be flexible where you can…could you get by with 3 bedrooms instead of 4? 2 full baths but not that extra ½ bath? Could you buy a home with a kitchen that needs improving and take care of that at a future date?
Ask me about my 2 buyer questionnaires that could help you sort through all the issues that may be important to you and your desired lifestyle.
You no doubt have heard that housing inventory is pretty tight these days, and there are plenty of buyers who are also searching for a home that you may be competing with for the same properties.
What does this mean for you as a buyer? Multiple offers on a property (yes, sometimes 10, 20 or more), over-asking offers not just full price, needing to make a decision quickly in order to not miss out, making your best offer up front due to the competition (you may not get a counter), realizing that despite a great offer you might not be the winner, and more.
Wearing a mask is not the only protocol to follow when showing homes in our area. You should observe the 6-foot social distancing guidelines at all times, and generally only 2 buyers (same household) plus their agent are permitted – no children, friends, or relatives. You should avoid touching any surfaces (counters, door knobs, light switches, etc.) and it’s wise to wear disposable gloves (if not, sanitize hands before and after the showing). Your agent can open doors and turn on lights if needed, although many sellers now are leaving doors, blinds and shutters open, and lights on to minimize the need for touching which protects everyone.
As noted previously, you likely will be asked to provide a current written pre-approval before your showing is approved, and buyers and their agents will be asked to sign the Property Entry Advisory and Declaration for Visitors (PEAD-V) before the showing (this is easily accomplished using electronic signatures coordinated by your buyer’s agent).
Appointments are required and showings are not to overlap. You may have been used to open houses in the past but they are not permitted during the pandemic in our area.
PREPARING FOR SHOWINGS
In general there are plenty of opportunities to see what homes offer before making your appointments. Take time to look at the photos, read all the information about the home’s features, and check out any walk-through videos. Some listings are also including 3D and drone/aerial videos. You might find information online about the subdivision/community where the home is located. Ask your agent for information. Check out the schools if that’s important to you.
It might also be smart, if time permits, to check out the area in person first, especially if location and views are important and when you are not familiar with the area. Bear in mind, however, that you do not want to delay setting up an appointment for a showing as soon as possible since some homes are going off the market very quickly.
Given the market, and the competition, flexibility will be an important component of being successful. First of all there likely are not many homes that fit your criteria, so be focused on what’s REALLY necessary in your new home, and be willing to trade off to get the home you want (e.g., giving up certain features you could add later, making the upgrades you want in the future rather than demanding you have them up front).
At the same time be aware of the issues that could rule out a particular home for you, such as a long commute (but it may be worth it), road noise, or location.
Be flexible when scheduling times to see properties you like. You may not be able to get an appointment at the time that works best for you, available showing times may be limited at the sellers’ request, and you are competing with others who want to see the home(s), too.
Give me a call at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your specific housing needs, your budget, the inventory and local market conditions that will impact your decision-making, and any questions that you have. We’ll talk more about how you can be successful in this competitive market, including addressing the seller’s needs with a great offer price, terms and conditions.