Many Americans are making their dreams of buying a house a reality this year. Despite the economic recession in the United States caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate purchases are up as mortgage rates drop to its lowest level in decades.
However, expect the process to be different. Sars-COV-2 is still around and infecting thousands of Americans every day. Over 200,000 people are dead from the virus.
Instead, you will experience a new kind of house-buying process.
Technology in All Sectors of Society
COVID-19 is primarily spread through close contact. As states impose a stay at home order, many businesses strongly integrated technology into their operations.
Gym trainers relied on Instagram and Zoom to create exercise routines and keep their clients in shape during the lockdown. Teachers carried out their lessons through video chats. Psychologists are meeting their patients online. Even brick-and-mortar stores that until now have yet to embrace e-commerce were forced to go online.
The housing sector, too, had to adapt. With the pandemic still sweeping across the globe, it is important to keep both seller and buyer safe.
Housing Market During the Pandemic
Public health experts emphasize the importance of social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Although restrictions have been lifted in most places, people are still encouraged to stay at home.
But that did not stop people from buying and selling their homes. While some delayed selling and buying real estate until the situation is under control, many did not let the pandemic get in their way.
Part of it is due to the incredibly low mortgage rates. While the mortgage rates have gone up since dipping under 2% earlier this year, it is still lower than normal.
So, mortgage brokers, lenders, buyer’s agents, and real estate agents are back to work, and they are doing so digitally.
Buying a House Goes Digital
If, before the pandemic, the process of shopping for a house involves a lot of meetings and negotiating with multiple people, now, it has become digital. Prospective homeowners are getting the first glimpse of houses that are for sale through the screen of their electronic devices.
Many are doing house tours via FaceTime and Zoom. A buyer would contact the seller through video chat and request a virtual showing of a house. Others are using Facebook Live, which allows more people to watch, as a socially-distant version of open houses.
Some, however, have started using 3D modeling technology to recreate the process of walking through an open house on the internet.
This is not entirely a new concept. Technology has been used in real estate selling and buying in the past, but not everyone did it. The pandemic has made adoption faster.
But, the use of technology does not stop in property viewing. Many real estate agents are teleconferencing with clients for the less exciting parts of the sale. Through Zoom or Skype, they are able to answer questions that clients and prospective buyers may have, go over contracts, and do basically anything that they otherwise would have done if not for the pandemic.
Documents get sent back and forth through emails and faxes.
Inspections are still being done, but not with the buyer around. Inspectors do their work with a camera on hand to record the process.
Inspection is an important step to buying a home because it reveals flaws and damages that might be expensive to fix.
The video of the inspection can either be live (done via video chat) or sent to the buyer later on.
Limited and Careful
In some places in the United States, in-person showings are now allowed. Check with your state and county government to know for sure if you will be permitted to view a property or not.
For those going to in-person showings, expect the experience to be different from what you are used to. The National Association of Realtors recommends that only one buyer enter a property at a time. There should also be at least six feet distance between each guest.
Following CDC and WHO guidelines, surfaces will be disinfected, too. Handwashing or the use of alcohol-based sanitizers are encouraged. Most importantly, masks need to be worn throughout the tour.
COVID-19 has put the entire world to a stop. While the virus is still present, life will unlikely go back to normal. Luckily, the use of technology allows businesses to operate, shops to sell their merchandise, and buyers purchase their dream home safely.