While the COVID-19 pandemic may make for a less-than-traditional home-buying experience, it doesn't mean you have to put your dreams of homeownership on hold.
The technology available to deliver a contactless home-buying transaction, from search to close, is not new, but its adoption has certainly spiked with the pandemic as more sellers and buyers seek to avoid face-to-face contact. If you need to buy now, but are concerned about the health risks, talk to your real estate agent about the options open to you.
The days of needing to go into the lender's office just to start your loan application are behind you. With the rise of online firms like Lending Tree, most lenders were already competing by enabling customers to apply for a mortgage loan online long before the pandemic and the need for social distancing. Mortgage lenders are able to complete tasks like credit checks and asset verification, and use automated underwriting tools in determining approval. You can sign paperwork online.
Talk to your real estate agent about alternatives to in-person showings. He or she should be able to arrange for a live video tour in place of an in-person showing. Live video, using an app like Skype or FaceTime, will give you an opportunity to ask questions as the agent conducts a walkthrough. Your agent will be able to highlight the home's positive attributes as well as point out any potential faults.
Appraisers and inspectors are also making use of contactless technologies. Both are able to provide buyers and lenders with digital reports regarding a home's value and condition. Appraisers may offer desktop appraisals, meaning they don't actually walk through the house in-person, or they may do an in-person exterior appraisal and rely on photos or video for the interior. In some cases, they may ask the homeowner to provide video for the entire property. Inspectors will need to be onsite, but take proper precautions such as shoe coverings, masks and gloves. You may want to ask your agent if he or she will attend on your behalf, if the homeowner is agreeable.
Digital and drive-up closings are enabling buyers to complete their home-buying transaction without an in-person meeting. Completely digital closings, including electronic notarizations, are legal in several states. In other areas, lenders and title companies are still reducing contact by holding drive-up closings. Deeds can also be filed electronically in many areas.
You can still move forward with your home purchase, despite the precautions necessary due to COVID-19. By taking proper precautionary measures and enlisting the aid of technology, you can be well on your way to new home ownership without increasing your health risk.