Alison Brown, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage President’s Elite, CRS, CBR


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

According to the National Association of Realtors, year-to-year increases in home sales have remained steady in spite of apparent dips in March 2020 due to COVID-19. This one fact goes to show that the proverbial show must go on when it comes to people buying a home. If you were on a home search before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, or even if you started searching after, there is no reason to stop your search efforts. Yes, social distancing still remains an important aspect of preventing the spread of the virus. However, as a homebuyer, shopping and staying socially distant are perfectly doable. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind. 

Keep communication on-point & personal with video conference calls to agents & sellers.

Your real estate agent or realtor is your go-to person throughout the buying process. The average buyer will have multiple meetings with this professional as they get together to lay out details of wants and look at potential properties. Even though socially distancing yourself from your realtor may mean a lack of in-person meetings, it doesn't mean you should ever lose touch. Whether it is keeping in touch via phone or video conferencing, these interactions are vital to you having the most opportunities as a buyer. 

Take advantage of on-demand house shows with live chat functions.

House shows don't have to mean taking a chance and going to a place where there are other people in close proximity. Thanks to modern technology, a home showing is something that can be accomplished entirely remotely. Many real estate companies and sellers are now holding on-demand house showings that include live chat functions. This means you can reach out about a property you are interested in seeing, get a live virtual tour and ask any questions you have in the process. Of course, if you decide at that point that the home is a serious prospect, it is best to arrange for an in-person showing while keeping the general social distancing rules in mind.

Go to lenders using the latest technology & encouraging social distancing.

While shopping for a home, you will likely also be shopping for a mortgage, which would normally mean paying a visit to multiple lenders in your area to see what offers you get. Thankfully, the majority of modern lenders take advantage of online platforms on which the bulk of the application process can be handled online. If you have a lender in mind that doesn't offer an online platform for applying for a mortgage, reach out to them to see if they can do something over the phone or via email. 

You Can Find a Home in Spite of COVID-19 

Yes, COVID-19 has changed the way we interact but you can still search for and find a home you'll love—the steps may just look a bit different than usual. Talk to your real estate agent for more local guidance and tips as you navigate through your homebuying journey.


Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

HOA living is not for everyone. However, for those who like the extra structure, you can find plenty of deed-restricted properties. Before you buy a home in a community with a homeowner's association, you should not only check out the rules, but you should also try to talk with some of the people who live in the community — and not those who are on the board. You should also speak with the board to determine if you are required to be on the board. In some cases, it is optional, but you won’t get a vote on what the association decides.

Security

Often, HOA communities are gated. Sometimes, they even have security guards. Though you'll still find some crime in gated communities, it is less. Additionally, homes are often close together, which affords your neighbors the ability to keep an eye on your property when you are not home.

Property Values

Because the houses are nearly the same, the yards are about the same size and the homeowner’s association ensures that everyone keeps their yards cleaned and maintained, a neighbor cannot bring the value of your property down. If a neighbor does trash the yard or refuses to take care of the property, the homeowner’s association often does it, then charges the homeowner.

Rules & Regulations

Everyone who lives in the HOA community must abide by the homeowner’s association’s rules and regulations. The regulations are voted on by the members and are meant to keep the peace between neighbors. For example, the HOA might have a rule that you can’t make a lot of noise after 8:00 p.m. on weeknights and 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It might have a rule that you can only paint your house certain colors. It could even have regulations for pets, whether pets are allowed, and if so, what type, size and how many.

Pet Areas

Some gated communities with homeowner’s associations have certain places to take pets, which means that you have less chance of someone else’s pet messing on your lawn. Urine from pets could leave brown spots on your lawn, which ends up costing you money to fix. The pet areas are supposed to prevent this from happening — and prevent you from stepping in a mess that someone did not clean up.

Amenities

Gated communities often have amenities such as pools, tennis courts, a game room, golf course and other amenities. The cost for these amenities is usually included in the homeowner’s association fees you pay monthly. The on-site amenities mean that they are clean and are probably within walking distance. You also do not need to join a club or pay exorbitant fees for entertainment.


If you've conducted an in-depth search for your dream house but still have yet to find your ideal residence, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can revisit your homebuying strategy and revise it as needed. This will allow you to restart your house search and increase the likelihood that you'll discover your dream home sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, there are many reasons to revisit your homebuying strategy, and these include:

1. You can consider why you're searching for a house.

There are many reasons why an individual may choose to buy a home. By revisiting your homebuying strategy, you can think about why you want to purchase a house and proceed accordingly.

For example, if your initial goal was to buy a home near the top schools in a particular city or town, you may want to refocus your house search to achieve the optimal results. Or, if you now find that you'd prefer to own a house in a big city instead of a small town, you can update your house search.

2. You can evaluate your home must-haves and wants.

After attending open house events and home showings, your homebuying criteria may have changed. As such, now may be a good time to revisit your homebuying strategy so you can update these criteria.

Think about things you've liked and disliked as you've viewed various available houses. You can use your open house and home showing experiences to revamp your home must-haves and wants, and as a result, reenter the housing market with a fresh perspective.

3. You can review where you want to live.

As you've searched for homes, you may have found that houses in certain cities and towns are more appealing than other residences. Thus, you can revise your homebuying strategy to focus on residences in your preferred cities and towns. This will help you accelerate your house search and ensure you can find a home in a city or town where you want to live.

Of course, conducting a home search on your own often can be difficult. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive plenty of support throughout the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to find a great residence in any city or town. He or she can help you revamp your homebuying strategy and streamline your house search.

In addition, a real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses that become available and help you navigate the homebuying cycle. Once you find your dream house, a real estate agent will make it easy to submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence. And if you ever have concerns or questions about purchasing a home, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Revisit your homebuying strategy today, and you could move one step closer to finding and purchasing your ideal residence.


After a home seller accepts your offer on a home, the next step usually involves a home inspection.

At this point, you'll hire a home inspector who will walk through the home you'd like to buy and offer expert insights into the residence's strengths and weaknesses. Then, you'll be able to assess potential issues with a home and determine whether to move forward with a home purchase.

A home inspection can be stressful, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you take the guesswork out of home inspections.

Ultimately, there are many questions to consider after a home inspection is completed, including:

1. What did the home inspection reveal?

A home inspection offers unparalleled insights into a residence. It enables you to look beyond a house's surface and find out whether major repairs will be required both now and in the future.

Hiring an experienced home inspector is paramount for homebuyers. With an experienced home inspector at your disposal, you'll be better equipped than others to identify "hidden" problems within a house.

Also, don't forget to review a home inspection report closely. With this information at your disposal, you'll be able to understand whether a residence meets your expectations.

Be sure to consider the long-term value of a property as well. Remember, a home that you plan to purchase should be able to serve you well for years to come. But if you encounter myriad home issues during a property inspection, you may want to consider rescinding your offer on a residence and restarting your search for the ideal house.

2. Are there major home issues?

As a homebuyer, it is important to be able to identify the differences between major and minor home issues.

For example, if there are tiny cracks and chips in the paint on a kitchen's walls, these issues are minor. In fact, you may be able to repair such issues quickly and effortlessly.

On the other hand, an old, inefficient furnace can cause major headaches. Without a properly functioning furnace, you may struggle to heat your home in winter. Meanwhile, it may cost several thousand dollars to replace this furnace.

If you encounter problems with a residence during a home inspection, consider the costs associated with these issues. By doing so, you'll be able to determine how much you may need to spend to correct such problems and can proceed with a home purchase accordingly.

3. What should I do next?

An informed homebuyer will be equipped with the knowledge and insights needed to make a great decision.

Consider the problems that were discovered during a home inspection. If you can fix home issues without having to commit substantial time and resources to complete various home maintenance projects, you may want to consider moving forward with a home purchase.

If you encounter major home issues, you can always ask a home seller to perform home repairs. Or, you may want to remove your offer on a home altogether.

Working with a real estate agent is ideal, especially for homebuyers who want help with home seller negotiations. With assistance from a real estate agent, you should have no trouble determining how to proceed after a home inspection.


Purchasing a home may prove to be a good idea. In fact, there are many reasons to pursue a house, and these include:

1. You can purchase a home that you can call your own.

There is nothing quite like the feeling an individual typically experiences after he or she buys a house. If you conduct a search for your dream residence, you can enjoy this one-of-a-kind feeling in the near future.

Of course, if you decide to purchase a home, you may want to establish property buying criteria. This will allow you to hone your home search and accelerate the property buying journey.

As you put together homebuying criteria, think about where you want to reside and what features you want to find in your ideal residence. Then, you can begin the homebuying journey with a plan to achieve the best-possible results.

2. You could save money over the long haul.

Let's face it – the costs of renting an apartment, condo or house can add up over time. On the other hand, a home is a long-term investment that may help you save money in comparison to renting a property.

If you decide to launch a home search, you may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage too. Banks and credit unions are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these financial institutions can teach you everything you need to know about home financing. As a result, if you meet with banks and credit unions in your area, you can find a mortgage that complements your finances perfectly.

3. You can personalize your residence however you choose.

A house is more than just a place where you eat, sleep and store all of your personal belongings. And if you acquire a residence, you can transform an ordinary house into a personalized home.

As a homeowner, you can paint your home any color you choose, perform assorted house upgrades and much more. Therefore, homeowners enjoy unprecedented flexibility and can customize a house so it matches or exceeds their expectations.

For those who are ready to pursue a house, it often helps to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer plenty of guidance throughout the property buying journey and ensure you can quickly discover your dream house.

A real estate agent will keep you up to date about houses that fall within your price range, set up home showings and help you submit an offer to purchase your ideal residence. Plus, a real estate agent will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to help you pay the lowest price for your dream home. And if you ever have concerns or questions during your home search, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them right away.

Ultimately, buying a home is a good idea for many people. If you hire a real estate agent today, you can instantly start a home search and move one step closer to acquiring your dream residence.




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