Buying Real Estate During a Pandemic
Written by Trish Luzzi, Broker | REALTOR
One question we’re repeatedly asked is is it a good time to invest in real estate and, if so, how do I do it during the COVID – 19 pandemic?
The truth is homes in WNC are continuing to close and new homes are being listed daily. Although the world has slowed down significantly, people still need to move due to relocation, want to upsize or downsize, or are currently renting and now have the resources to buy. On the seller side, some sellers have holding power and don’t feel the need to rush a sell, but prefer to wait out the current conditions to see what happens. While others are feeling the pinch and want to sell their home as quickly as they can. Sellers whose homes are already on the market are highly motivated to close a deal on their home now. Since there are some sellers who need to sell asap we’re seeing lower prices and more negotiable terms than what we generally see. Buyers have some excellent advantages right now!
Although each market has their own restrictions for showing homes, to better ensure the safety of buyers, sellers and agents, many Realtors are relying on technology to keep their distance when possible to better communicate, show homes, and even close deals. We’re seeing a lot of video tours out there. This can include video walk-throughs of an interior or even Matterport tours. Facetime meetings have become commonplace with clients.
When virtual walk-throughs or Facetime tours aren’t enough or a buyer is serious enough and wants to see a property in person then other precautions are taken. Currently in Buncombe County showings are allowed and everyone is doing their part to be as responsible as possible by wearing masks, gloves, and booties. Minimum surface contact in homes is helpful so we’ve been asking sellers to leave lights on and all interior doors open to decrease the amount of contact. Of course, keeping 6 feet apart is essential.
One evolving aspect of the Asheville real estate market concerns out of town travelers who come here to conduct real estate business. The local Real Estate Board, LOTSAR, shared that a person traveling to Asheville to look at property was unable to secure a hotel because, although, real estate is deemed an ‘essential’ business, that applies to employees and not clients. Since clients are limited to what they can do at the moment, it’s essential for us as REALTORS to use the tools at our disposal to serve our clients the best we can.
Another thing to keep in mind is the due diligence period. In North Carolina, this is a period in which a buyer investigates various aspects of a property by hiring inspectors, getting quotes, reviewing documents, and basically doing their homework to ensure they want to buy a specific house. Normally, buyers can opt to terminate a contract during this time, which means they forfeit the previously agreed upon due diligence amount. Now, buyers can lean on the COVID-19 Addendum. This addendum acts as an extra layer of protection for buyers because it provides leniency and deadline extensions if you run into COVID-19 related causes. A portion of it even protects a buyer who may experience decreased hours at work or job loss due to COVID-19 related issues. In short, this addendum allows a buyer to secure a contract without taking on too much risk.
We’ve talked about what you can expect while looking for a home, but what happens once you find your dream home and you’re ready to close? More importantly, what does it take to have a smooth transaction without delays?
Most importantly, get pre-qualified before you start looking. Being prequalified is great all-around because you know what position you’re in as a buyer and it can help a seller feel confident in the likelihood that a deal will go through. Plus, it helps eliminate unnecessary exposure because buyers who have not gone through the prequalification process generally aren’t seen as serious as buyers who have. That means sellers can opt to show their home to only those who are prequalified so it filters out people and decreases the number of showings and possible contamination in a home. We work closely with excellent local lenders who will assist you in getting pre-qualified and get you to the closing table.
Real estate industry professionals are working hard to keep the home sale process moving safely by enacting more restrictive protocols in order to minimize risks. Inspectors are not allowing buyers to attend inspections, instead, are providing a comprehensive report and answering any questions by phone to ensure buyers are still getting the necessary information. We’ve been seeing our local closing attorneys revamping how closings are conducted. Some changes include drive-through closings, distance closings, use of notaries, and digital recording of deeds. This may be a new world we’re all navigating, but rest assured that every professional involved is taking recommendations seriously to ensure a safe real estate transaction.
Asheville real estate is hyper localized and we’re often insulated from the national real estate trends, which means it’s never been more important to have an informed advocate on your side. Time will tell what the long-term effects will be from the global pandemic, but for now, if you have the means, there isn’t a better time to buy than right now!
Information is subject to change.