You were gearing up to buy a home in the Las Vegas-area, and then a global pandemic put the breaks on your plans. But not so fast, don’t give up yet, it might still be possible to buy a home in the time of Covid-19. To navigate buying a home now requires changing your strategy a bit and being aware of the tools available to help you. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Is it even possible to buy?
In Nevada, like most of the United States, only essential services are currently allowed to operate. People are urged to stay home using “shelter in place” and “safer at home” directives, and to practice social distancing (maintaining a boundary of six feet between people) if they do go out. Banks and financial institutions are included in that list of essentials, which means it might be possible to buy a home in Nevada. Moreover, federally, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has declared “title search, notary, and recording services in support of mortgage and real estate services and transactions” as well as “residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services” as essential. Guidance from CISA is advisory, however — it’s not a federal mandate, and states, counties, and municipalities can create their own rules. Your agent can advise you, depending on what stage of the process you are in, about whether buying a home during coronavirus is possible.
Is it even safe to tour homes?
Like many other activities — yoga classes, happy hours, work meetings — home tours are now virtual. Agents are scheduling virtual tours as they would any other home visit, giving potential buyers walkthroughs of every room, with time to answer questions. To protect your health, and that of your family, this is your best bet for searching for your next home. You can work with your agent to find homes in your area that are available virtually and then start touring potential dream homes from the comfort of your couch. However, even during this time, agents advise seeing a home at least once before making such a major life decision. If you do find that perfect home to visit now, you’ll want to follow the CDC and WHO’s Covid-19-related recommendations: stay six feet away from other people (do not ride in the car with your agent); refrain from touching your face; wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer; and cover your mouth with your elbow when you sneeze or cough. Be aware that sellers might ask you to take additional steps or precautions like wearing a mask, or using hand sanitizer when entering their home.
Can I take advantage of those low interest rates?
There’s no doubt about the coronavirus’ effects on the spring housing market, which was gearing up to be a robust one, as is typical for this hot real estate season. It is now at a bit of a standstill as sellers are taking their homes off the market, and some buyers are taking a step back. It may have added to your frustration when you saw that the Federal Reserve rate was slashed to nearly zero in mid-March 2020, and mortgage loan interest rates also dropped to three-year lows. Talk to your loan officer or mortgage broker, and your real estate agent about the timing for locking in your mortgage loan rate if you’re ready to buy. Keep in mind that whatever you can do to streamline underwriting your mortgage loan will be helpful. That includes making sure you have all of your documentation organized. It may be more difficult to secure a mortgage loan now due to economic upheaval, and that might also mean additional requirements to show your financial stability.
The most important way to navigate buying a home now is to stay calm . If you absolutely must move, work with your agent to find a solution, but if it’s possible, a wait and see approach might be your best course of action, for now.