Home buy­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 outbreak

Medicine Hat News - - HOT PROPERTY -

Home­own­ers know that the process of buy­ing a home can be both ex­cit­ing and nervewrack­ing. The anx­i­ety as­so­ci­ated with buy­ing a home has hit new heights dur­ing the outbreak of the novel coronaviru­s COVID-19.

His­tor­i­cally low in­ter­est rates and lim­ited in­ven­tory has made 2020 an es­pe­cially unique time to buy a home. It’s also a com­pet­i­tive and po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive time to buy a home.

While the eco­nomic con­se­quences of COVID-19 have been se­vere, the Fed­eral Na­tional Mort­gage As­so­ci­a­tion, also known as Fan­nie Mae, fore­casted a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in me­dian home prices in March 2020. City dwellers have scram­bled to buy homes out­side of cities, where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is more dif­fi­cult and the risk of get­ting COVID-19 ap­pears greater than it is in sub­ur­ban or ru­ral set­tings. That’s led to a lot of com­pe­ti­tion among prospec­tive buy­ers.

Prospec­tive home buy­ers will­ing to en­ter the hec­tic fray and shop for a home dur­ing the COVID-19 outbreak may ben­e­fit from know­ing what to ex­pect as they search for their next home.

• Get ready for vir­tual tours. Buy­ers might once have scoffed at the no­tion of buy­ing a home they’d only seen in videos, but vir­tual tours have be­come the new nor­mal in the wake of the pan­demic. An April sur­vey from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors® found that home tours had de­clined sharply. While 98 per­cent of real­tors re­ported tak­ing clients on home tours as re­cently as February, that num­ber had de­clined to 63 per­cent by April. As many re­gions pause their re­open­ing plans, prospec­tive home buy­ers should ready them­selves for vir­tual tours as op­posed to in-per­son home tours.

• Ex­pect lim­ited in­ven­tory. While home prices are up, many peo­ple are holding onto their homes. The NAR re­ports that to­tal hous­ing in­ven­tory at the end of May 2020 was down nearly 19 per­cent from the end of May 2019. Buy­ers will have less in­ven­tory to choose from, so those in­tent on buy­ing may need to pri­or­i­tize what they need in a home and fo­cus on find­ing prop­er­ties that can ful­fill those needs.

• Ex­pect to move quickly. Real­tors have seen homes sell within days of be­ing listed, and that has put pres­sure on buy­ers to move quickly. It also high­lights the im­por­tance of find­ing a home in­spec­tor be­fore your search be­gins as well as a lender who can han­dle quick clos­ings. Ask around for rec­om­men­da­tions, but make sure you have th­ese two im­por­tant pro­fes­sion­als lined up be­fore begin­ning your search. Do­ing so will give you a bet­ter chance of buy­ing in an un­usual time.

• Make the best down pay­ment you can af­ford. A high down pay­ment makes buy­ers look bet­ter no mat­ter the state of the economy. An of­fer with a high down pay­ment looks like a stronger of­fer, and that can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing a po­ten­tial bid­ding war.

Buy­ing a home dur­ing the COVID-19 outbreak presents some unique chal­lenges to prospec­tive buy­ers. MS

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