May 24, 2020

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Buying A House In The Era Of COVID-19

Buying a House In the Era of COVID-19

Who buys a house during a global pandemic? The answer to that question may surprise you at first, but a quick look at the official site for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and it’s clear that there’s a demand, and with good reason.

Some Americans not only consider buying or renting a new home during COVID-19, but some actually have no choice but to seek new housing. This could be due to any number of factors including illegal evictions, loss of income, job changes that require relocation, natural disasters, changes in family size, changes in marital status, many reasons.

And those people create a demand that must be met, even during a national emergency. Granted, not all home loans during this time are out of necessity, but the basic message here is that there’s no shame in needing to find a new home even in the worst of times.

And there is plenty of help. In the housing industry, there have been many 21st century adaptations; online mortgage loans, virtual home tours, and contactless real estate transactions.

Some of these innovations were happening long before the coronavirus pandemic but they are certainly in greater demand now. What are the social distancing options for people who need to buy a home now or soon?

Virtual Tours Of Homes For Sale

A virtual walkthrough is most helpful when it features the ability to pan & turn 360 degrees throughout the tour. When you go house hunting using a virtual tour, try to get a feel for how the space is presented. Does it look like certain areas of the property are avoided or hurried through?

Once you have viewed a handful of properties you’ll have a good idea what to look for in terms of tours that have an open, honest feel to them versus a tour that doesn’t look or feel like you’re getting a good look at the property.

Appraisals In The Era Of COVID-19

Appraisal procedures have been altered in the age of social distancing to accommodate a drive-by or exterior-only appraisal with no look inside the property.

This is something that points to what FHA officials and participating FHA lenders have been saying for decades about buying a house with only the appraisal and without the optional but absolutely crucial home inspection.

Home inspections are one thing that cannot be done virtually or from the safety of a vehicle parked outside. Home inspections are more thorough than appraisals and nobody should purchase a home without having it inspected AND appraised first. Appraisal-only purchases are a recipe for disaster.

There are no national guidelines for how a home inspection would be carried out under social distancing guidelines.

Check with your local authority to see what is permitted in this area at the time you need the inspection. 

Mortgage Loans Online

When you apply for a mortgage or apply to pre-qualify online, it would be very tempting to view these companies as having sprouted overnight to cash in on a demonstrated need for social distancing even during real estate transactions. And that makes some doubt the efficiency or trustworthiness of these online home loan servicers. 

But the fact is that many of the companies currently providing online mortgage loans, refinance loans, construction loans, etc. have been around for many years, pre-coronavirus. Their systems, practices, and technology have been tweaked and tested. Finding a reputable lender willing to work with your circumstances and needs has never been easier online; it’s best to explore your options early and find the right lender for you.

Joe Wallace - Staff Writer

By Joe Wallace

May 11, 2020

Joe Wallace has been specializing in military and personal finance topics since 1995. His work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Public Affairs Alumni Association. He was Managing editor for www.valoans.com for (8) years and is currently the Associate Editor for FHANewsblog.com.

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