Among the many changes we have experienced in the global pandemic of 2020, changes to the real estate market are among the most difficult to understand.
On the one hand, interest rates are very low, meaning that you can finance a new home for a remarkable price. On the other hand, high demand for housing right now has led to higher prices on the whole, and real home prices have jumped 45 percent from February 2012 to May 2020, adjusted for inflation.
How can you navigate these competing sources of information? The process of buying a home has changed in the COVID-19 pandemic, but that does not mean it’s impossible to find the right place for your needs. Let’s walk through the process of seeking and finding a new home with these new social expectations of public health.
How can I safely tour a home?
Not even a year ago, touring a home was as simple as contacting a real estate agent or attending an open house to get a look. Although these options remain, there are many new possibilities for getting to know the features of a new home.
At the highest level of security, you can do an entirely remote viewing of a home. In many cases you can see a virtual tour that gives a remarkably solid depiction of the features and amenities available. Beyond the pre-recorded virtual tour, many real estate agents have transitioned to FaceTime, Instagram Live, or Zoom video conference tours.
In this way, you can remotely walk through the home with the agent, taking a guided tour with the opportunity to ask questions and get information that is specific to your needs. Many title companies offer curbside closings, as well, making it possible to maintain social distance from the first look at the property to the final purchase. In addition to these remote opportunities, real estate agents have taken precautions to make it possible for you to visit the home in person with limited infection risk. By keeping the doors and windows open and sanitizing all doorknobs and surfaces, you can attend a home tour while taking appropriate precautions. In many cases you can take this tour without the agent present in order to limit contact, as well.
Should I expect prices to drop?
The housing market is notoriously difficult to predict, and the factors contributing to prices are nearly impossible to quantify in any individual situation. One trend that has been evident is a rise in prices in suburbs and fashionable exurbs. As people seek to leave city centers in search of lower COVID-19 infection rates, they are flocking to the more spacious suburbs.
The shift to remote work has contributed to this trend, as well. One of the factors leading people to live in cities is a shortened commute, but the uptick in working from home means that proximity to work is not such an issue. In addition, many of the amenities available in cities are out of the question right now, so people are newly willing to consider living further from urban areas.
All of these factors are causing people to want homes in suburban, exurban, or even rural areas. Although demand is high for homes in wide open spaces, that does not mean you need to postpone your decision. Instead, you should be ready to act fast when the process is underway.
Although the decision to buy a home can come with lots of pressure and excitement, moving quickly from the moment of touring the home to making an offer can be a good strategy to get the right property for you. If you delay making a decision, it is more likely than ever that the property you want might be snapped up by someone else, particularly when you are looking at a home outside a city center.
Although the real estate market is shifting in new ways with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not halted! In fact, people are as ready as ever to find the homes that are right for them, and you can face a fast-paced and competitive process from taking a virtual tour of a home to a curbside closing.