Buying a house in 2021 presents a unique blend of challenges and opportunities. The housing market in much of the United States is red hot, driven by high demand and low supply. Meanwhile, historically low mortgage rates give prepared buyers the chance to finance their dream homes without breaking the bank.
All of this is complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced buyers, sellers, and real estate agents to find new ways to sell, tour, and inspect homes safely.
Here are a few home buying tips to guide you this year.
Budget & mortgage planning
The first and most important thing: are you ready and able to spend? Costs don’t stop at upfront expenses and monthly mortgage payments. You’ll have to budget for emergencies and homeownership costs, too. Here are a few signs that you’re ready to buy a new home.
Consider that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven mortgage rates down below 3%. These low rates won’t last forever. You stand a chance of saving money by buying a home now rather than waiting and experiencing higher mortgage rates down the line.
You may encounter extra hurdles when getting a mortgage. Check out our guide to applying for a mortgage in the middle of the pandemic to secure your loan approval.
- Compare offers from multiple lenders. Small rate differences add up to thousands of dollars!
- Get pre-approved for a home loan to speed up the buying process.
- Pre-approval of loans can signal to a seller you’re ready and serious.
Find a real estate agent or Realtor with remote homebuying experience
A good real estate agent or Realtor is one of the most effective assets for a home buyer. That’s doubly so in a housing market disrupted by the pandemic. A good agent will know how to strategize, bid, and negotiate to get you the best home deal in a seller’s market.
Given the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to find a Realtor who is well versed in remote home buying. If possible, find a local agent who’s well-versed with online tools for house hunting and other related resources. This will help keep not only you but everyone you’ll be working with safe and healthy.
Make the most out of online resources and virtual tours
When it comes to house hunting, there’s nothing like an in-person tour of a property. It’s the most fun step of any homebuying experience! But given the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be wise to keep in-person tours to a minimum.
A canny home buyer should take advantage of every online resource and remote viewing opportunity they can while building their shortlist of prospective properties.
Use remote tours and other resources such as media-rich online listing sites to create a shortlist of promising properties. Apart from minimizing your exposure, this can also save you the time and effort of shuttling between open house tours.
Don’t skip inspection and appraisal
Not all lenders require a home inspection and appraisal but getting both are highly recommended if you’re unable to tour the property in person.
A home inspection is especially helpful. The report will give you a good idea about the state of the home and if it’s worth your investment. You can also use the findings to negotiate a better deal. Meanwhile, a home appraisal can confirm if you’re getting a fair deal.
Consult closely with your real estate agent once you’ve received the results of an inspection and appraisal.
Be ready for remote meetings, negotiations, and closing
With remote homebuying comes video meetings and e-closings. Most counties in Virginia, including James City and York counties, allow e-closings.
Request and review electronic copies of important documents beforehand just like you would a paper document. And to ensure that there’s a stable connection between all parties involved in the closing, do a test call and check if your webcam, microphone, and other necessary devices are working properly.
Don’t let the pandemic stop you from buying your dream home
The COVID-19 pandemic has made its mark on real estate and home buying, and while we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re thinking of exploring Williamsburg, VA real estate, Coldwell Banker Traditions is at your service. We’re a full-service real estate firm with more than a century of experience in the Hampton Roads area, with an expert team with deep knowledge of the local real estate markets. Call us at 757.229.9595, email info(at)cbtraditions(dotted)com, or drop us a message here.