The face of real estate is changing. Some of the changes were in the pipeline already but many are being forced by the current health crisis. While we are living in unprecedented times, the impact that these changes will have on the real estate process are not necessarily bad. The way we do business is always evolving and this is one of those times where we’ll see significant change happen in a very short period of time.
Disclaimer: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation with local, state, and federal guidelines changing daily. This information may not be relevant at all times and could change many times over the coming days, weeks, and month. Please contact me with any questions! I’ve provided links at the end of this post for national, state, and county level resources.
I’m going to be talking about these changes from several different angles over the next few weeks but today I want to talk about the changes that are being made to the home shopping experience. I’ll break down the changes here:
1 – This isn’t the time for window shopping.
If you are going to look at a home during these times, you must be absolutely sure that the home that you are looking at is very likely candidate.
2 – Be pre-approved before you look.
I’ve often talked a lot about why this is so important but it’s never been as important as it is today. Right now, you should only be looking at a house that you are prepared to write an offer on. In order to do that, you must be pre-approved. There are numerous other reasons why you should always be pre-approved prior to looking at homes but for the sake of this conversation, that’s the one I’ll point out as a critical.
3 – Do your research before looking at a house.
This all ties into “no window shopping”. There is so much information available prior to walking through the front door and you need to take advantage of that to be absolutely certain that this home is a contender and could be the one that you write an offer on today. Here are some things that you can check prior to visiting the home. Some of these things can be found on your own but please ask your agent (hopefully me!) to provide you with the links and resources.
- Public Records such as the SDAT tax site or GIS Mapping
- Utility usage (Electric, Gas, Water/Sewer, Oil)
- Ask questions regarding the age of major systems, any updates that have been completed, and when systems were last serviced.
- Request the disclosure packet.
- Ask for the most recent deed, any recorded surveys, and hoa, condo, or civic association information and documents.
- Ask your questions in advance regarding anything that interests you or that is important to your decision making process. Some of these things could include additional expenses, leased items, school districts, shared road agreements, etc.
- Work with your agent to verify that this home falls within your qualifications and within the location and condition guidelines of the loan type that you are using.
4 – Book a tour when you are 100% sure this could be “the one”.
When you have done all of your research and your questions have all been answered, go ahead and setup a showing. Book a tour with your agent. Do not go to open houses where there will be groups of people and no opportunity to control your environment.
5 – Take every precaution possible to keep you, your family, and the community safe.
- Essential people ONLY. Don’t take friends, family, or children to showings This is not the time to take unnecessary risks. Only contract signing parties should be present for showings.
- Wash your hands upon entry and when leaving.
- Don’t touch anything that isn’t necessary.
Bonus – Consider looking without looking.
This is a common occurrence for helping clients moving from out of state, but it could soon become the norm for local moves as well. I’m talking about viewing the home electronically through virtual tours and Facetime type walk-throughs. This may not work for everyone but it’ something to consider. I’ll be talking more about this soon so stay tuned!
Disclaimer: The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation with local, state, and federal guidelines changing daily. This information may not be relevant at all times and could change many times over the coming days, weeks, and months. Please contact me with any questions!
For up to date information regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the following resources:
Maryland Health Department: https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/
St. Mary’s County Health Department: http://smchd.org
Calvert County Health Department: http://CalvertHealth.org
Charles County Health Department: http://CharlesCountyHealth.org