House hunting can be stressful and complicated even in a nonstressful environment but it is even more taxing in today’s current pandemic. Now that the country is under a shelter-in-place order many a wondering if it is safe to start on an adventure of buying a home. Luckily the real estate industry is always evolving, so adapting to things such as a safe social distance or remote showings comes easy. If you are in the market to buy a home there are several things to consider and know to help you navigate this time of uncertainty and instability.
It is so important to find the right real estate agent. Realtors are a great tool to have in your pocket when finding the perfect home. A Realtor is very comfortable with conducting business remotely and online. Buyers and Realtors connect through Zoom, Google Hangouts and other platforms virtually. If the buyer is not tech-savvy or comfortable with conducting business online, an agent will be there to help the buyer with things such as e-signature apps.
Once a buyer finds a listing online they are interested in, they will want to see the inside. Nowadays you cannot go for a showing or to an open house instead you tour the home virtually. Realtors are hosting virtual open houses and providing video tours of their listing. There are many ways to experience virtual home tours. Many listings not only including photos but are incorporating videos or virtual reality tours. For example, a listing can feature a VR icon that an interested buyer can click on that will take you to a video of the home. Many listings offer buyers the option to tour a home room by room without stepping into the home.
A buyer will also need to think about mortgage pre-approval. A good number of lenders are conducting business digitally. All buyers will want to shop for the best mortgage package offered. A good way to do this is to interview several loan officers via phone or video chat. Make sure each lender is comfortable with conducting the transaction process online.
Another process to consider is the home inspection. Many home inspectors are offering clients a remote inspection. The home inspector will go to the house alone and perform the inspection. They will then review the findings with the customer through a videoconference. A buyer should be comfortable with a remote home inspection during these uncertain times. During a remote home inspection, there are several extra steps taken such as taking more pictures and if there is an issue the inspector will take a video.
The buyer will need a home appraisal for a mortgage. During these times, home appraisers are taking a different approach. Many are desktop appraising which is the process where the appraiser reviews public and private data that is available via the internet to determine the value of the home.
Remote home closings are also available. The majority of businesses can be done virtually. The home buyer will have to show up for the closing and might have to sign documents and have them notarized in person. On closing day, the home buyer and the seller can conduct business in separate areas. The closing attorney can shuffle papers that need to be signed back and forth to each client. Papers can be signed with each client’s separate pen and all parties will wear gloves. The state of Georgia is allowing all closings to take place virtually for the time being. The closing attorney and the clients conduct the closing through a secure videoconference.
The risk to conduct business face to face or remotely is still a personal decision. The good news is that the real estate industry is adapting to the safety guidelines during the pandemic.
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