Every year, about 43 million Americans move to a new home. While the COVID-19 crisis has thrown many homebuyers for a loop, the pandemic hasn’t put a complete stop to the homebuying process. According to Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index, over 50% of Americans still say now is a good time to buy a house.
Just because many homes are still on the market, though, doesn’t mean buying a home will be easy. For the 32% of homebuyers buying a home for the first time, the new homebuying process may be especially confusing.
To help you navigate the current real estate market, here are a few tips you can use to help you find the right home for your family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Make sure your credit score is golden
If your family is lucky enough to be financially secure during the COVID-19 crisis, consider using your stimulus checks to pay off any remaining debt on your credit cards. Only about 35% of your credit score depends on how promptly you pay your bills. Other factors that impact your credit include how much debt you owe, the types of debt you have, and the age of your oldest credit amount.
Get a mortgage preapproval
Whether you’re buying a home during a pandemic or not, the very first step toward buying a house is getting preapproved for a mortgage. Fortunately, you can get preapproved without even leaving your house. You just need to find a mortgage lender that lets you submit documents and sign agreements online. Your mortgage preapproval is a letter from your mortgage lender that tells you how much money you can expect to get for a home loan so you know how much house you can realistically afford.
Find a real estate agent
A real estate agent is important to have during the home buying process, especially right now during the pandemic. Real estate agents have greater access to information online about neighborhoods, school ratings, property taxes, and the real estate history of a home. Your real estate agent can also act as your advocate, getting home sellers to take 3D virtual tours of the home you’re interested in so you don’t need to put your family at risk checking out the property in person.
Take 3D tours
Speaking of 3D tours, you’ll be relying on them a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many real estate websites provide home listings with pictures online already, such as Zillow and Trulia, many are increasingly allowing 3D tours. Use this feature as much as possible to reduce how often you need to visit a home in person.
Have the house inspected
Because of social distancing and other precautions against COVID-19, chances are you won’t be able to inspect a potential home as thoroughly as you’d like. That’s where your home inspector comes in. Make sure that you have a house inspected prior to closing on the property, especially if you weren’t able to check out the home in person yourself. Inspections can help you save a lot of time, money, and heartbreak.
Let your agent handle the offer letter
Once you’ve found a property you love that’s in good condition, have your real estate agent submit an offer letter. This letter is what tells the seller that you’re interested in buying the house and under what conditions you’ll buy the property. You can write your offer letter yourself, and you can definitely do it digitally, but it’s typically best to let your real estate agent write it to avoid missing anything.
Close on the property online
After your mortgage lender conducts an appraisal, all you need to do is close on the house. Your mortgage lender will send you a Closing Disclosure, which lists the final terms of your loan. The process of online closing varies depending on your lender. Consult with your lender to determine if you’d be able to sign your documents online and submit identifying information by email.
The COVID-19 crisis may have caused the homebuying process to be a little more challenging than usual, but it’s possible to still close on a house even during the pandemic. By doing your research to find a mortgage lender that allows you to sign and process documents online and by finding a great real estate agent, you can make buying a new family home during the pandemic a little easier.