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Purchasing a home during the pandemic is easier than you think. Here’s why.

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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the real estate sector has been booming due to the volume of individuals and families that have been looking to relocate due to a combination of historically low mortgage rates and the increasing popularity of remote work. HomeLight notes in their Top Agent Insights for Q4 2020 that 75% of real estate agents were surprised at the speed of which renters have sped up plans to purchase a home, and 54.4% of agents believe that the housing market in 2021 will remain the same as 2020.

Those things in mind, if you’ve been thinking of relocating, now is a great time to do so mortgage rates are at historical lows. By considering the information below, you can get a better understanding of your options and how to get the most of your options.

It’s easier than ever to explore homes

Since many homeowners are trying to keep in-person meetings and crowding to a minimum, virtual open houses have surged in popularity due to the convenience for buyers and the fact they’re easy to scale. These events consist of the homeowner’s real estate agent live streaming a walkthrough of the home via web conferencing software such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Facebook Live.

During the virtual open house event, buyers can ask questions and receive answers in real-time and also request the agent to home in on specific areas or rooms.

Before attending a virtual open house, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the property by asking the seller’s agent for home disclosures that outline “material defects,” and also the home’s floor plan so you have more context into what is shown during the walkthrough.
In addition to conducting research beforehand, you also should prepare questions that you would like answered during the viewing. If your questions aren’t answered during the event, and/or if you’re interested in proceeding closer to an offer, be sure to follow up quickly.

It’s worth noting that you can also leverage this technique to sell your own home at the same time as buying one.

Alternative appraisals gain popularity

When you get to the final phases of purchasing a home, you’ll likely need to have the property appraised to ensure you’re paying a fair price. While standard appraisal methods often require in-person interactions and onsite visits, many banks are now allowing alternative appraisals during the coronavirus pandemic. The two primary methods include desktop and hybrid appraisals. Desktop appraisals consist of a licensed appraiser conducting market research, reviewing comps, and other public records such as tax and multiple listing service (MLS) materials to determine the fair market value of the property.

Hybrid appraisals follow the same steps as a desktop appraisal, however the appraiser also considers additional information such as reviewing previous inspection reports, driving by the exterior of the home, and having the homeowner conduct a walkthrough via live video-chat.

If you’re shopping for a property that is in average condition, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about when getting an alternative appraisal. It’s important to remember that regardless of whether you have a traditional, hybrid, or desktop appraisal, appraisers must always substantiate their findings with sufficient information so the buyer and seller can be sure that the home is being priced at a fair rate.

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