Ready to Don Your Mask and Go House Hunting?
Now that you’ve made a decision to buy your first house, or a new one, I bet you’re ready to put on a face mask and go house hunting.
Hold on, just a moment. There are some important matters to address before setting up appointments to see the homes you like.
This goes without saying. Can you realistically shop for a home when you don’t know how much you can afford, or even know that you qualify for a mortgage?
- Do you know what loan program is best for your financial situation?
- How much down payment do you need?
- Are you aware of your estimated closing costs?
- Are there credit issues you don’t know about (it happens!)?
Also, you may be asked to provide a written pre-approval letter before a showing can occur, or is even approved…at least in my market. Sellers and their listing agents want to feel comfortable that the buyer coming through the home is qualified to purchase the home. No pre-approval letter, no showing.
If you are fortunate enough to be using cash for your purchase you will likely be asked for your proof of funds (POF) prior to your showing.
KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY NEED
It’s more important than ever these days to know what you really need in your new home, including lifestyle issues (e.g., proximity to shopping and dining, schools).
Once you know what you can afford you can better focus on your particular needs…and not on a long wish list.
With limited choices for many buyers, consider what’s really necessary for you, and be aware of the need to trade off features that, while desired, are less important or non-essential.
Be flexible where you can…do you need 4 bedrooms or can you get by with 3 bedrooms? How about 2 full baths instead of 2 ½ or 3? Could you live with a home with a kitchen that needs upgrading and take care of that at a future date?
I expect you know housing inventory is tight these days, and there are plenty of buyers who are also searching for a home, and you may be competing with them for the same properties.
As a buyer, what does this mean?
- Multiple offers on a property (sometimes 10, 20 or more)
- Over-asking offers not just full price
- Making a decision quickly in order to not miss out
- Making your best offer up front due to the competition (you may not get a counter)
- Realizing that despite your best efforts you might not get the house, and more
Wearing a mask is not the only protocol to follow when showing homes in our market. Buyers and their agents are to observe the 6-foot social distancing guidelines at all times, and generally only 2 buyers (from the same household) plus their agent are permitted – no children, friends, or relatives.
Everyone is encouraged to avoid touching all surfaces (counters, door knobs, light switches, etc.) and wear disposable gloves. Your agent can open doors and turn on lights if needed, although many sellers now are leaving doors, blinds and shutters open, and lights on.
As noted above you likely will be asked to provide a current written pre-approval before your showing is approved, and buyers and their agents will be asked to sign the Property Entry Advisory and Declaration for Visitors form (PEAD-V) before the showing (this is easily accomplished using electronic signatures coordinated by your buyer agent).
Advance appointments are required and showings cannot overlap. You may have attended open houses in the past but they are not permitted during the pandemic in our area.
PREPARING FOR SHOWINGS
Commonly there are plenty of opportunities to see what homes offer before making your appointments. Take time to look at photos, read all the information about the features, and check out any videos. Some listings are also including 3D and drone/aerial videos. Check out information online about the subdivision/community where the home is located. And be sure to ask your agent for information. If schools are important investigate the school district websites.
It might also be smart, if time permits (say the dates for showings is in the future), to check out the area in person first, especially if location and views are important and when you are not familiar with the area. But you probably do not want to delay setting up a showing appointment as soon as possible since many homes go off the market very quickly.
FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
Given the market, and the competition, flexibility will be important in order to be successful. First, there may not be many homes that fit your budget and other criteria. Focus on what’s REALLY necessary in your new home, but be flexible to get the home you want (e.g., trading off certain features you can add later, such as changing a loft area into a bedroom; doing desired upgrades in the future rather than requiring them up front).
While you should focus on what’s really important, keep in mind those issues that will rule out a particular home for you, such as a long commute, road noise, or location. But again, be flexible!
Scheduling showings these days can be tricky so be prepared to be flexible here, too. You may not be able to get an appointment at the time that works best for you. Sellers may limit available showing times, plus you will be competing with others who want to see the home(s), too.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
Give me a call at (760) 840-1360 so we can discuss your specific housing needs, your budget, the inventory and local market conditions that will impact your decision-making, and any questions that you have.
We’ll talk more about how you can be successful in this competitive market, including addressing the seller’s needs with a great offer price, terms and conditions. Lastly we can create a strategy that will help you find and purchase the home that best meets your needs and budget!
Be sure to sign up to receive listings as they come on the market (the MLS updates 24/7) to you are always up to date and won’t miss a listing that might be THE ONE, especially since some homes go off the market quickly.
Or explore homes for sale in other communities in North County San Diego that interest you.
Better yet, let’s talk about your housing needs and budget, then I can create an automated search specific to you directly from the MLS. Give me a call at (760) 840-1360.
And when you find some listings you like, we’ll don those masks and go take a look.