Are you wondering what it's like to buy a home in the Edmonton area right now? While many things have changed, many things also remain the same, and people are still viewing and buying homes in today's market. If you're considering taking advantage of historically low-interest rates, and a strong negotiating position while entering the real estate market with social distancing restrictions, here is what to expect.
View Homes Online FirstOk, this might sound like nothing new, but there are new ways of reducing the number of homes you view in person. You can learn a lot, and save a lot of time through an online meeting with a real estate agent. Basically, you look through the photos and details of listings you're interested in via a Zoom Call, Google Hangout or another online platform; a knowledgeable agent can point out features and drawbacks of listings online, and help you decide which listings you really need to see in person. Many clients are opting for “virtual Showngs” where an agent walks through the property and shows the client the home over FaceTime, Skype or something similar. We can draw your eye to things that you should be aware of, tell you about noises or smells, and point out any things that might perfectly match your check-list. After doing a virtual showing, if there is additional interest in a specific home, our agent can discuss how they can safely facilitate an in-person showing. If you’d like to know about the specific steps we’re taking, drop us a line. Agents are also hosting "virtual open houses" at a scheduled time, you can join the agent in the home via Facebook Live (or similar), ask questions and have the agent show you specific features of interest. I think this trend might even continue after COVID, since it saves clients a lot of time.
More Forms, Questions and RequirementsIt is now common for sellers to limit the number of in-person showings and they will have specific requirements before a showing takes place. You will probably be asked the "COVID Questions" numerous times over the phone, and in writing, and may be required to sign different forms for different homes. The industry is working to standardize these forms, but requirements and opinions are changing all the time, which leads to new forms. Rest assured our agents are trying to make this as easy as possible for our clients. Sellers may also require proof of pre-approval before allowing a showing, so it's a great time to get pre-qualified.
Physical DistancingWhen you meet one of our agents in person to view a home, you will be asked to wear a mask, leave your shoes outside the door or wear disposable booties over your shoes, and use hand sanitizer. We will have asked the seller to sanitize handles and surfaces prior to the showing and to leave all interior doors open and all lights on, so we don't need to touch anything when inside the home. Our agent will ask you to keep your hands in your pockets, and only two clients will be permitted to view the home at a time. Our agent will also wear a mask, and will stay at least 2m (6') away from you at all times. You may wish to bring your own gloves and hand sanitizer as well. If you proceed with an offer, the home inspector may ask you not to attend the inspection, or to follow similar guidelines.
Our Top Tips for Buying a Home During COVID-19
Be PreparedWe have always recommended that potential home buyers become educated about the process of buying a home, before going out and looking at properties. Now, more than ever, it's a good idea to do your research before you actually view homes. Find a real estate agent to guide you through the process by asking friends and family or recommendations, and reading online reviews. We would be happy to schedule an online buyer consultation at your convenience, to answer your questions, outline the process of buying a home and explain the extra precautions we're taking during COVID-19.
Get Pre-QualifiedMortgage rates are at historic lows, and again, we've always recommended that buyers should speak with a mortgage broker or specialist before you start viewing homes, and that is now more true than ever, since some sellers may require proof of pre-approval before allowing a showing. We can help point you in the right direction or you can get in touch with someone you know and trust. It’s also important to know the difference between a pre-approval and a pre-qualification:
- A pre-qualification is a rough estimate of how large a mortgage you would be qualified to borrow. They’ll ask you a few questions and give you a quick answer, possibly even over the phone or through a simple online form.
- A pre-approval is much more involved and far more accurate – they’ll check your credit, ask for proof of down payment, employment and all kinds of other information.