What Does COVID-19 Look Like for Home Buyers? Virtual Showings, Low-Interest Rates, & Much More
At the start of 2020, Texas entered its fifth consecutive year of record-breaking sales, and home builders were pulling out more permits than every other state. It was one of the most bustling markets in the country. And even though the new coronavirus’ effects on the spring housing market has caused a bit of a slowdown, homes are definitely still selling! Real estate in Fort Worth and Texas overall is considered an essential service, and buying a home during coronavirus is still a possibility. Here’s what you need to know about navigating the Texas real estate market in this difficult time.
New Types of Showings
Home showings are being forced into the future. Right now, there’s a huge uptick in virtual showings. You can watch a video walkthrough on many listings (and sometimes in 3D!) and your agent or the homeowner can walk you through on a video call through Skype or Zoom, or some other option. Open houses are being moved online as well, to become Facebook Live viewing parties.
Take advantage of preliminary showings as well. These are easy, no-contact solutions to seeing if you like the house. Just drive by to see what it looks like on the outside and to get an idea of the neighborhood. If you don’t like what you see, scratch it off your list.
Welcome to the world of low-interest mortgage rates. Now could be one of the best times to lock in a rate you’ll be happy with for the next 30 years. Ask your realtor what current rates are and if it’s worth it right now to take advantage of the slumped economy.
In-Person Health Measures
If you absolutely have to look at a home in person (and to be honest, you will—not many people want to move into a home sight-unseen), make sure to follow CDC and WHO guidelines for social distancing and safety. Wear a mask and gloves, and stay six feet away from other people in the house. The homeowner may be unable to leave, so keep that in mind.
Consider a no-touch showing. That means that you send your realtor in first to lay down floor coverings or put out booties, open all the doors and cabinets, and turn on all the lights. The goal is to eliminate the need to touch anything, so you can walk through with your hands in your pockets the whole time.
As of March 26, 2020, Texas is now permanently able to do remote online notarizations. That means you can get all your paperwork digitally, sign everything digitally, and then have it notarized digitally. It’s important to note, though, that notaries in Texas need to obtain a special commission to do so—so make sure that happens before you cancel the in-person appointment.
Be Prepared for a Slower Process
Thanks to so many businesses being shut down right now, home sales are moving a bit slower than normal. Inspections are still done in person, and that person needs to be available. Repairs that need to get done may take longer than usual, but the good news is they’ll still get done!
Be prepared to sign an addendum noting that the COVID-19 outbreak could delay closings a bit. In the end, though, just be patient. A global pandemic can’t stop you from getting your dream house.