If you’re a first-time home buyer trying to navigate the current housing market, you’re faced with circumstances that no first-time buyers have ever faced in the past.
From new rules and restrictions around in-person viewings to shifting economic and market conditions affecting both home sale prices and the terms of your mortgage, the COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on almost every aspect of the home purchasing process.
As you look ahead to buying your first home, here are some of the biggest changes that may impact your shopping and buying experience.
Home viewings may be more restricted.
To comply with safety protocols, many home viewing appointments are scheduled to ensure only one party is inside a property at any given time.
As a result, appointment windows may be shorter when scheduling home viewings, and the deadline to exit the property will be tight if another party has scheduled the appointment slot immediately after yours.
The limited time spent inside each home means you’ll need to manage your time wisely to make sure you gather the information you need from the viewing. Focus on the most important features and considerations about the home so you can properly evaluate its potential fit as your future home.
Virtual home tours can help evaluate properties faster.
While in-person viewings may come with new limitations, real estate agents have attempted to solve this problem by creating virtual home tours that let prospective buyers virtually explore a home without setting foot on the property.
Not only does this support safety when house-hunting, but it can also help you evaluate properties faster, even when in-person appointment slots are booked. Through virtual home tours, you can wield an aggressive home-viewing strategy to get the jump on new listings and make a fast offer when you find a home that meets your search criteria.
Low mortgage rates have created a limited-time buying opportunity.
The economic hardship created by the pandemic has forced mortgage rates to all-time lows. While these rates are likely to change in the future, current home buyers have a great opportunity to secure a low rate that minimizes their interest paid on the home for the lifetime of the mortgage.
Check with your community bank to get up-to-date information on mortgage rates and to be prequalified before you make an offer.
The housing market has remained competitive throughout the pandemic.
Although many individuals and households have suffered losses of income and investment value during the pandemic, overall activity on the housing market has remained strong, with many potential buyers hoping to capitalize on low rates and make a sound financial investment into a home.
Because of this, you may experience more competition for homes than what you might be expecting during a period of economic uncertainty. Be prepared for situations in which your offer is one of several being made on a home—and know that you may have to increase your offer price if you’re serious about making that home yours.
Slow construction of new homes has created a housing crunch.
While home buyers came out in droves to purchase properties during the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions and other complications—such as construction material shortages—curbed the rate at which new homes were built during the past year.
As a result, a lack of new homes hitting the market has compounded the supply shortage seen in housing markets across the United States. Although strong home construction rates are projected for 2021, the present shortage of inventory could affect housing prices and competition for buyers this year.
The house hunting experience may be much different in 2021 than it was for buyers in the past, but the constraints and new practices shaping the real estate market haven’t erased the opportunity and value that can come with buying your own home. If you’re ready to buy your first home, enter this process as prepared as possible.
Discover more tips and tricks by downloading The Essential Guide for First-Time Home Buyers today.