If you’re like many people, you know that the COVID-19 pandemic upended the way real estate works. Sure, you still work with a REALTOR® to buy a home, but things like home tours, what buyers want, and how quickly you need to pounce on a home you love have all changed. This guide explains five all-new rules for buying a home in a post-COVID environment so you know what you’re getting into.
5 All-New Rules for Buying a Home, Post-COVID
Check out these five new “homebuying rules” that have come into play:
- Apply for financing before you start house-hunting.
- Take advantage of virtual tours to see whether you’d like to check out a home in person.
- You can’t afford to “sleep on it” when you find a home you love.
- You need to think long-term (like 10 or more years in the future) when you search for your dream home.
- It’s best to put your best offer forward right out of the gate.
Here’s a closer look at each.
Post-COVID Homebuying Rule #1: Apply for Financing Before You Start House-Hunting
It’s best to apply for financing – and get as far as you can in the mortgage approval process – before you begin looking for your dream home. That’s because homebuyers are serious right now, and when you see something you love, you want to be able to pounce on it.
The fact is that most sellers won’t take you seriously unless you have a pre-approval letter in hand and you submit it with your offer. Sellers aren’t going to take your word that you’re “good for it” when there are other buyers who are already preapproved and ready to sign the dotted line.
Another reason to get preapproved before you start house-hunting is that preapproval gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford. When a lender preapproves you, you can explore homes in your price range without wondering whether you’ll qualify to get them – and that saves you plenty of time and stress.
Post-COVID Homebuying Rule #2: Take Advantage of Virtual Tours
A virtual tour is an online walk-through of a home that gives you a feel for what it would be like to live there. It’s the next best thing to being there in person.
Virtual tours are more important than ever now that we’re living in a post-COVID world. That’s because many buyers don’t want to physically tour homes until they’ve eliminated ones that they know they wouldn’t want to live in.
By taking advantage of virtual tours, you can quickly narrow down the homes you’re interested in and save yourself the time and hassle of touring homes that aren’t right for you.
Post-COVID Homebuying Rule #3: You Can’t Afford to “Sleep on It”
If you find a home you love, you need to act fast. Other serious buyers find a home they love and put in an offer as soon as they leave, which means your chances of getting an offer in front of a seller depend on how quickly you act.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can “sleep on it” and come back to it later. By then, someone else may have already put in an offer and had it accepted. Then you’re back at square one.
Post-COVID Homebuying Rule #4: You Need to Think Long-Term
The pandemic has changed the way we think about our homes. We’re now using them for things we never thought of before, like working from home, homeschooling and even exercising.
This means that when you’re searching for your dream home, you need to think about how your life will fit into it 10 or more years down the road.
Do you want a home with a dedicated home office? A backyard that can double as a gym? A finished basement that can be turned into a homeschooling classroom? Will you need less (or more) space because your family size has changed? Keep your long-term needs in mind as you search for your post-COVID dream home.
Post-COVID Homebuying Rule #5: It’s Best to Put Your Best Offer Forward Right Out of the Gate
With so many buyers competing for homes, you may be tempted to make an effort to save money. But in today’s market, that’s not necessarily the best strategy. Instead, it’s best to put your best offer forward right out of the gate.
That’s because other buyers are doing the same – and if your offer is lower than another person’s, there’s a lower chance of the seller accepting it.