The Ukiah Daily Journal

Prepare now to buy a house after the pandemic

- Dick Selzer Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

Although it may feel like the Covid-19 pandemic will last forever, it won’t.

If you want to be ready to buy a house as soon as things open up, here are some steps you should take today.

Do your research

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, search for buyer-assistance programs such as those available through the Veterans Administra­tion (VA) and Housing and Urban Developmen­t (HUD). There are also state and local programs available. Your lender should be able to direct you.

Figure out what you can afford

To qualify for a home loan, your loan broker will need all sorts of documentat­ion, most of which you can collect online or with a few phone calls. You’ll need to provide a list of your assets, liabilitie­s, tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, credit history, and other relevant financial informatio­n. If you want a traditiona­l home loan, you’ll need to demonstrat­e that you have—and are likely to continue to have—reportable income. Basically, the only difference between being preapprove­d and applying for a loan is that when you’re pre-approved, you haven’t found your property yet.

Might as well get this out of the way now.

Put technology to work for you

One of your Realtor’s most effective home-finding tools is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Once you’ve defined your criteria, your Realtor can set up an automatic email notificati­on any time a new property comes on the market that matches your specificat­ions. (Realtors are often in a position to hear about upcoming listings, too.)

Pick your people

Real estate is a team sport. If you think of it like baseball, we can put the seller on the pitcher’s mound and the buyer in the batter’s box. Clearly, though, we need more players. We need infielders, outfielder­s, coaches and bat boys. In real estate, the first two team members you need are a Realtor and a lender.

Thankfully, you can pick a good team with two simple tools: a phone and a computer. Use those tools to reach out to friends and neighbors for referrals, visit websites to learn more about potential team members, and be sure to pay attention to testimonia­ls and reviews. Once you have a short list, schedule interviews via phone or video conferenci­ng to see if you click with the Realtor and/or lender. You’re about to make one of the biggest investment­s of your life, so you want to work with people you trust and with whom it’s easy to communicat­e.

Pay attention to the shelter-in-place (SIP) orders

As the economy opens up, restrictio­ns on real estate activities will loosen. Talk to your Realtor about what’s allowed and what isn’t. As of May 5, in Mendocino County, the amended SIP restrictio­ns allow a maximum of two buyers accompanie­d by a single Realtor to view a property for sale if, and only if, it had been vacant for a minimum of five days.

This pandemic will end, and when it does, sellers eager to sell their property will likely choose a buyer with a loan in-hand who is ready to sign on the dotted line.

Define your musthaves

As you begin to think about your future home, make two lists: must-haves and would-likes.

This is an important distinctio­n.

With your detailed and accurate lists in hand, your Realtor will be able to identify which properties you should see, and which ones aren’t worth your time.

How many bedrooms do you need? Does the school district matter? Are stairs okay? Do you want a pool? How big must your yard be? Are there neighborho­ods you prefer?

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at rselzer@selzerreal­ or call (707) 462- 4000.

If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificat­e to Schat’s Bakery. To see previous articles, visit www.selzerreal­ and click on “How’s the Market”.

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