House-hunting tips amidst the pandemic

Published · Tuesday, February 23, 2021 12:38 PM

House-hunting during a pandemic? It sounds impossible, right? It’s just normal for people to feel scared when they heard of buying a house or a condo or investing in real estate, while there is still an ongoing pandemic and an economic recession at the same time. In trying times like this, we see every sector as vulnerable, because as this pandemic hit the world, nothing and no one was spared. We were all and we are still being affected up until now, in any way and in any aspect of our life. Nowadays, all we want is security and having our finances in our control would give us peace of mind.

The unstable global economy and the instability of our personal finances caused by the COVID19 are some of the major reasons why people put off their plans on buying a property such as a house. But would you believe that all is not lost even if those unfortunate events interrupt your plans of house hunting?

Less competition is one benefit of house hunting during a time when the region is shut down. Furthermore, sellers may be more motivated to sell or be more flexible on the price which is an advantage to the buyers.

Here are a few things that you can do to pursue house-hunting amidst the pandemic.

Market research

To begin your journey, research first the areas where you want to move, as well as the area’s home values, and the average selling prices for your choice of home. For easy browse listings, familiarize real estate terms and listing abbreviations. You may also ask help from friends and family for realtor recommendations. Also, make sure to make a shortlist of real estate agent candidates to interview. All of these can be done at the comfort of your home.

Virtual hunting and virtual home viewing
You can start hunting virtually while a lot of businesses and sectors are still on lockdown. Since you are staying home most of the time, you have better advantage at finding your dream home within your price range as you have more time to shop online.

Instead of the usual home viewing, where agents or brokers invite buyers for a tour to the site of the property for sale, the real estate industry has started shifting to the new normal of selling through virtual tours on their websites and/or social media pages. A virtual tour or a virtual open house is as good as the conventional way as you can still get a realistic view of the property, in a more convenient way and you can see all the important details in just a few clicks.

Look around for lenders with best interest rates
If your credit score is in shape and you have a good DTI ratio, your next move is to find a mortgage lender that would give you the best deal. You can always do this at home by using this online mortgage rates calculator.

Interest rates may go higher and lower from time to time. Yes, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, the rates shift and they may impact your monthly loan payments. So if you want to see a clear scenario of your estimated monthly loan payments for 5 interest rates at the same time, use the calculator cited above.

The values you need to insert are the home value, down payment and mortgage amount; mortgage structure which includes length of loan, interest rate – which can be checked via the mortgage rates section at the bottom of the page or via your agent, and private mortgage insurance; and other ownership costs such as annual property tax, annual homeowners insurance and HOA fees. The value at the “increment comparison rates by” is set to default at 25%. It is based on mortgage discount point from most lenders so no need to change.

Once you already filled up all the values required, the calculator will return the monthly payments for today's rate along with the payments for rates 2 increments lower up through 2 increments higher. By using the calculator, you can clearly see the difference when interest rates fluctuate, and this will help you find the best lender in town.

There are a lot of uncertainties nowadays, but one thing is certain - this crisis will surely pass. Once that happened, there may be more house hunters back on the market that might cause the prices to escalate due to a more competitive market. That real estate situation will benefit sellers rather than buyers again, so take a few steps forward now, and do the right move for you.

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