buying a house during coronavirus

Buying a House During Coronavirus

buying a house during coronavirus
As a broker, I want to protect not only my clients, but my agents and myself as well. When businesses and services started to shut down, I had to make a decision to shut down with the non-essentials or stay open with the essentials. Although it’s a gray area, we are essentially….essential. Everyone who I work with on a transaction, from the lender to the inspector to the title company, has to play a part in a person buying a house. The thing is, people still need to move for various reasons, and we can’t abandon our clients’ needs. Here are some ways we have gotten together to acquire best practices for buying a house during coronavirus.

Step 1: Property Viewing with an Agent

It’s not the best situation, but it’s not the worst. First and foremost, buying a house during coronavirus or COVID-19 can be done. When I took my clients to see the home we knew would most likely be “the one,” we decided to discuss protocol beforehand, which included no hugging or handshaking, which is usual for a greeting. The house was vacant, and that is the only way I personally will show a property, so we felt comfortable entering. We all had sanitizing wipes that we used to grasp the door handles, light switches, and keys. I opened the lockbox with mine and wiped it down. We stayed far apart, and although my natural desire to see the house with them was strong, I hung back and let them look while I stayed away. I would tour it when they invited me over for their housewarming party (wink, wink). When we left the house, we all used hand sanitizer and got into our cars and left. It was different, to say the least.

Step 2: Lenders

Of all of us, I’d say lenders probably have the least change in routine during the process of buying a house during coronavirus or COVID-19. While most of them do electronic signatures and uploading of files, some of them, like Jennifer Cook with NFM Lending, said she has to work at home instead of the office now. She offers FaceTime to clients as well. She also said that she doesn’t show up to the closing any longer, which goes for me (agents) as well. On the flip side of HOW they do business, Tommy Manzella of Gulf Coast Bank says “Just a few days ago, we have seen government and conventional loan programs increase minimum credit score requirements, which will affect some borrowers who may be under contract or already pre-qualified.” That is nerve-racking. Overall, it’s business as usual for our lenders, which is great news, but the external challenges from the government are becoming more increased.

Step 3: Inspections

I love my main inspector, Donald Makofsky with Makofsky Inspection Services, because he hardly lets anything stop him from working. Plus he is an amazing inspector. However, when we showed up for inspections, I couldn’t go give him a fist bump or hug. I (awkwardly) walked by and waved and opened the house for him. I had brought two fold-up chairs, one for me and one for my client, and set them up outside a good 6 feet apart since Donald mentioned we aren’t supposed to be in the house while he inspects. We sat there while Donald walked through the house inspecting it, with long pants and gloves on. The pants are normal, the gloves are the new addition. He said he was lucky to have found them and will consider wearing them all the time now (at inspections). When it came time to review his findings, we stood in two connecting rooms, all at a large distance, and he let us know what he found. The owners of the house were kind enough to have left antibacterial soap in the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen. We were careful to wipe down anything we touched, and we left the house cleaner than we found it.

Step 4: Closing Time!

I won’t be able to speak on this property closing, as it hasn’t happened yet, but I will speak on one of my agent’s closings that took place recently. The title company, Title Stream, had fantastic protocol. Basically, they had their “stuff” together. No other parties were to be present besides the buyer and seller. The buyer could bring his/her own blue pen, or they provided a sanitized pen. The sellers, according to John Costello, are signing their paperwork in their car with a pen sealed in plastic, never used and which they can keep. The checks would no longer be cut to any party; wired funds only. Additionally, their witnesses were by FaceTime so as not to expose more people to each other. Giving the heads up on this was very helpful, and it gave us peace of mind.

Who is Ready to Buy a House Now?

With all the fears surrounding buying a house during coronavirus or COVID-19, I encourage my buyers or renters to do what they feel comfortable doing. I am happy to shoot video tours for those who do not want to be near others, and I ask realtors to get video of their listings that are inhabited. I use the utmost care in this time of uncertainty, and some people opted to hold off on their house hunting, which I respect. If you are looking to purchase, however, now could be exactly the right time, as negotiating will be essential to get houses sold. Contact me for more information on how to get you the house you love now.