Shopping for a house is often a complicated and involved process involving lots of shopping around, in person visits, and meeting with many people at open houses. In this age of the coronavirus pandemic, however, many of our processes have necessarily changed to keep exposure levels low. Even the most determined home buyer might be wondering: Is it safe to shop for a house right now?
The answer is yes. You can now do many things at a safe social distance, or even remotely, when it comes to buying a home -- things that you may not have considered doing in the past. In California real estate has been deemed to be an “essential business”, but current guidelines for all operations stress virtual processes rather than in-person visits. Here are some of the ways in which buying a home has changed to keep you safe during the corona virus pandemic.
The right real estate agent
Pairing up with the right agent is always key to finding your perfect property, but today you need one who is tech-savvy and comfortable conducting meetings and business online.
Facetime, Zoom, GoTo Meetings and other tools allow buyers to have consultations they would normally have in person with me from the comfort of their home. We offer virtual consultations and home tours to make the process seamless and we use e-signature apps to send and receive documents.
Virtual home tours
The guidelines from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors indicate that open houses and realtor tours are for now cancelled. Nearly all visits and tours are to be conducted virtually. No more cookies to sample at open houses! The name of the game is virtual home tours and virtual open houses.
In addition to photos, many listings were already starting to incorporate videos or virtual reality tours. We can also do FaceTime tours of homes for a more personalized edxperience.
Remote mortgage pre-approval
The entire mortgage process has been mostly digital before social distancing was needed. Interviewing loan officers by phone or video chat is the first step toward home ownership. The interest rate is not the only important issue to explore. You really want a lender to will communicate at every step and actively track your loan progress.
In order to get pre-approved for a loan, the lender will need to review your income, debt, credit history and other factors—and you'll need to submit paperwork verifying all of the above.
Completing the transaction
While the escrow/title process has been done virtually most closings require some face-to-face interaction, since people have to sign documents and notaries need to stamp them in person. The final signatures of buyers and sellers so far have to be done in person as they have to be notarized. However, the Escrow company will bend backwards to keep social distancing guidelines in place when you come in.
The actual “closing day” in California is the day that the County records the deed transfer, usually a day or two after signing day. Closing is a digital process.