If you were planning to buy a home during the 2020 spring market, you may have put your plans on hold following COVID-induced restrictions in markets across the country. If you’ve been able to work from home, or if you are in an essential worker category, your stable income and a rapidly reopening economy make this a great time to reboot your home search.
Here are our five reasons to talk to your real estate professional and get back into search mode. Remember, conditions may change from market to market and even from week to week, so ask your real estate agent about inventory levels in your local area.
Take Advantage of Record-low Interest Rates
For the past several weeks, Freddie Mac has been reporting the lowest mortgage rates since they began tracking rates in 1971. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to lock in an interest rate that will maximize affordability for the life of your 15-year or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage term.
Need a great lender? Your real estate agent can help, providing you with contact information for a number of reliable lenders in your area. You may want to talk to two or three lenders and compare the numbers they are offering, as well as finding out who offers the best service and working relationship.
Spring Market 2.0 Is Here
Shutdowns began in most areas of the country in mid-March. That means that for many buyers and sellers, plans to take advantage of the traditionally hot spring market were put on hold. In addition, many sellers who had put their homes on the market took them off, and others who had planned to do so held back. Now, however, according to data from Realtor.com, the number of listings appears to be trending upward and conditions are improving in markets all over the map.
Due to pent-up buyer demand, you may see multiple offer situations occurring in the most desirable neighborhoods in your local area. It is important to develop a strategy with your real estate professional to ensure that you are able to move quickly and make the best possible offer when your dream home hits the market. In addition, have your lender pre-approval in place so that you can provide the relevant financial information along with your offer.
Virtual Transactions for Unprecedented Convenience
While many real estate brokerages have been moving toward more and more virtual platforms and processes over the past few years, the advent of COVID-19 has accelerated this process for real estate agents and brokers—and their clients. That means that you can save yourself a great deal of legwork with the greater availability of virtual open houses, virtual tours, and end-to-end virtual transaction support.
Instead of spending every weekend visiting potential listings in person, ask your real estate agent for a virtual tour of the listings you’re most interested in. Don’t forget security during virtual document preparation and transaction management. Ask your agent about secure transaction management options to increase the security of your personal and financial information and protect you from cyber fraud.
Lower Competition (in Some Markets)
While some markets are experiencing multiple offer situations, others are actually seeing lower competition from buyers. This may be caused by unusually high levels of economic uncertainty, or it may be caused by homes leftover from the pre-COVID market. In addition, some types of homes may be more available right now, and some metropolitan areas are experiencing significant market shifts.
All of this may add up to lower competition for the type of home you’re looking for. For example, an in-town condo may be more readily available than a suburban single-family home, especially in areas where there has been an exodus from the city center. Some markets in the South are seeing a large influx of newcomers from northern cities, creating opportunities in those geographic areas for bargain-hunting buyers.
Better Insight on What You Really Want
Most of all, three months of COVID-related shutdowns have resulted in an unprecedented opportunity for buyers to really find out what’s important to them in the way that they live their everyday lives. While previously focused on commute times and proximity to a favorite restaurant or shopping center, buyers are now focused on home offices, square footage, and outdoor spaces for recreation and activities.
If your children are missing their favorite sports and summer camps, a big backyard may be shooting to the top of your wish list. If you and your spouse are both working from home, an extra home office or a bonus room conversion may be an important focus of your home search. If quarantine has turned you into an expert cook, you may be looking for an upgraded kitchen with dual ovens or you may be excited at the possibility of an outdoor pizza oven.
It’s important to look ahead and determine what will continue to be important to you in the future. Many companies have decided to allow work from home permanently. Does that make a difference in where you want to live? If you can work from anywhere, where do you want to be?
Other families have chosen their neighborhood based on the local schools. However, if schools are moving online for the foreseeable future, is there somewhere else you’d rather be? For many people, the new normal includes a host of new possibilities, including the ability to live in a rural area or in an exciting new city.
The bottom line? Now is a great time to start—or re-start—your home search. Re-focus on your priority list and see if it’s still what it was prior to March. Talk to your lender about locking in today’s record-low rates. Then, check out virtual open houses and virtual tours for a more convenient, comprehensive home search process.