5 Questions Buyers Have During the Coronavirus Outbreak Answered
Everyone is being affected in some manner by the outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus. During this
time, buyers will have more questions than normal about the home buying process and their
ability to buy a new home. While we can’t predict what the next few weeks and months will
bring, the more we can educate ourselves, the better we can help buyers navigate the buying
process smoothly during the pandemic. Here are a few common buyer questions as they related
to the Coronavirus outbreak and real estate answered.
1. Can we still go see home listings in person? – This is the hardest question to answer
and it will depend on the home, the seller, the agent and any fast-changing governmental
policies put in place. Agents should be able to offer a Skype or Face Time home tour
virtually. Talk to your agent to find out what they have available for the buyers to prescreen the home virtually before setting up the visit; they might have virtual tours already
available which can help rule out those that don’t suit their needs.
2. How can I stay safe while visiting homes? – Everyone’s health has to be the priority;
this includes the buyers, sellers, and agents. If you are going to see a home in person
during this time, carry hand sanitizer and wipes to use before, during and after the tour.
Drive separately from your agent meet at the homes. During the tour, designate one
person to open doors, drawers, and closets and use disposable gloves during the
3. What happens if I lose my job during the escrow period? –Most real estate contracts
include a contingency that protects the buyer in the event they can’t get final loan
approval and close the loan. Typically during the process, this contingency is removed
after a set time frame, or after receiving the loan approval. Since every aspect of real
estate is negotiable, consider asking for the contingency deadline to be extended and in
place until the close; talk through this aspect with the seller and their agent in advance to
set the right expectation.
4. Will I still have access to the home during the escrow period? – It’s very common for
the buyer to have easy access to the home during the escrow period; home inspections,
appraisals and just measuring are all common reasons to visit the home during escrow.
Consider grouping these activities whenever possible.
5. Will I get a better deal if I wait to buy a new home? – We all know there’s no crystal
ball, but with everything that’s going on, sellers on the market should be very motivated
to sell. There are also historically low-interest rates on home loans. There is no way to
predict the future, so if the right home comes along, it makes sense to consider it.
Finding the perfect time to buy a home is a challenge that requires research and a
bit of luck. While timing the purchase perfectly might be desirable, the truth is the
right time is a personal decision. As we enter 2020, you might be wondering if this
is the right time to buy your dream home. With a strong economy, low
unemployment and higher household income, there are 3 great reasons why you
should consider buying that dream home this year.
1. A Home is a Great Investment – Real estate remains one of the best
investments one can have. Based on hard assets, real estate tends to
weather the ups and downs long term better than other investment tools,
such as stocks or bonds.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Low – Interest rates have fallen over the past
year from 5% in November of 2018 and Freddie Mac expects them to level
at an average of 3.8% in 2020. This extra purchasing power is important
when buying your dream home and this is a good time to lock in that rate
for the next 30 years.
3. Hedge Against Inflation – Rental costs continue to rise and as the economy
heats up, inflation becomes more of a possibility. A fixed 30-year mortgage
freezes your housing costs and works as a buffer from inflation which is
impacting the rental market.
Owning property is almost always a good investment. If you’ve been thinking
about exchanging your current home for your dream house, 2020 could offer the
right time to move up.
Words I hate to say!!!
“I’m so sorry, they went with another offer.” It’s a shocking thing to hear; you’ve
already moved into that dream home in your mind. It’s common to start second
guessing yourself, even condemning yourself for not offering more money or
better terms, but the truth is sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The next step is
to figure out how to move on.
• Go Ahead and Mourn – It’s perfectly reasonable to mourn the loss of the
• Take a Break – This might not be as easy as it sounds if you need to move,
but even a short weekend off to regroup and refresh will allow you to
continue the search.
• Understand What Went Wrong – It may be that you did nothing wrong and
the seller got an all-cash offer 20% over asking, but it’s still a good idea to
talk with your agent about your offer, make sure you truly offered a fair
price with reasonable terms and if not, make adjustments next time.
• List What You Liked About the Home – Make a list of the features you liked
about the home – open floor plan, big yard, expansive view, etc. This will
allow you to watch for these features as you continue the search.
Losing out on your dream home is sad, but it doesn’t mean you won’t find
another home you love just as much. Take some time to think through the
experience and keep going – there are so many homes to choose from, you’ll find
another home to love.
If you are planning to list your home for sale, you probably already know that you
need to prepare your home for the market. The point is to create the most
attractive, welcoming version of your home to entice buyers into the home and
encourage offers. Your listing needs attention also! Professional photography is
the best way to attract those buyers and to ensure you get the best possible price
in the shortest timeframe.
Most buyers now start their home search online. Online listings with professional
photography receive significantly more views than those without. Buyers tend to
linger on the site longer as well.
Professional photographers do far more than snap pictures with the right lens.
They understand how to create the right emotional response in the viewers. They
have experience working with listings and homes and normally they specialize in
You already know that homes must be staged to some degree for sale. Buyers
must be able to envision themselves living in your home. Photography is about
lighting and angles. A good photographer can bring out the best in your home by
using these techniques in their shots. Professional pictures can play with light and
position to allow your home to appear spacious and bright.
Professional photography is no longer reserved for luxury property listings. More
and more agents are seeing the value of beautiful pictures. Make sure your home
stands out among the sea of listings as potential buyers sort through properties
online. Professional photography will help you sell your home faster and for a
higher sales price than those without. Present your home in the best possible light
to attract those buyers and encourage them to visit and write you an offer.
If you are a first time home buyer, or even a repeat buyer, you quickly realize that
real estate has a language all its own. Understanding some of the lingo can help
you navigate the process a little easier. By learning a few critical terms, you will be
in a better position to ask the right questions and make the best decisions.
• Buyer’s Market – A real estate climate where the amount of listings
outnumber qualified buyers.
• Seller’s Market – A real estate climate when there are very few desirable
properties listed for sale.
• Contingencies – Specific conditions included in offer to protect the buyer
against unexpected situations, such as inspection, loan approval and
• Earnest Money – Money deposited when the offer is accepted. Subject to
any contingencies, this money protects the seller from a buyer who simply
changes her mind.
• Escrow Agent – A neutral 3rd party who manages the paperwork in a state
where attorneys are not used to conclude the contract.
• Closing Costs – Fees which must be paid by both buyers to conclude the
• Conforming Loan – A conforming loan is a loan limit by which the loan can
be sold on the secondary market; a jumbo loan is one which is higher than
• PMI – PMI, private mortgage insurance is a fee paid by the borrower of a
loan that they obtained with less than a 20% down payment.
These are just a few of the common terms used in real estate. If you are involved
in a real estate transaction, learning a bit of the common lingo will help you
understand the process better and make your home sale or purchase a smooth
Now that the warm summer months are behind us, it’s time to prepare for
winter. Regardless of whether you expect to see sub-zero temperatures this
season or you live in one of the warmer climates, preparing your home for colder
weather can save you money and hassle this winter. So before you dig out your
fall sweaters, take a weekend and prepare your home for the cold weather to
Fall is a great time to seal drafts in the home which can suck energy out. Check
around doors and windows and replace worn weather stripping and caulking. If
you use your fireplace for warmth during winter, this is the right time to have the
chimney cleaned and checked for safety. Arrange a furnace tune up complete
with replacing the filter and vacuuming the vents to make sure you are warming
your home efficiently.
Before the chill turns to freezing, head to the yard to winterize the exterior of
your home. Check gutters for clogged leaves and other debris and examine the
roof and siding for any repairs which could create leaks or drafts in the cold. If the
gardening season is at its end, drain water from outdoor faucets and garden
hoses. Make sure the sprinkler system is off and reinforce any exposed pipes
which could burst with the cold.
Fall is here. Along with the smell of baking and falling leaves, you can ensure your
home is ready for winter by taking a few steps now to prepare. Save energy and
the hassle of an unexpected repair by getting some routine maintenance done
before the cold months come.
Tips to Pay off Your Loan Faster
For generations, homeowners would buy a home for life. Working over the years
to make the payments and celebrating the end of the 30 year mortgage were
great milestones in the family. Today, few home buyers expect to be in their
home for longer than 7 years on average. Paying off a 30 year mortgage seems
like an impossible task. Fortunately, there are great ways to pay off your loan
which do not involve time. Here are a few tips for paying off your mortgage loan
Biweekly Payments – Work with your lender to determine how they handle
biweekly payments. If processed immediately, you can save 8 years of
payments on a 30 year loan.
Extra Payments – By making just one extra payment each year, you can pay
off your loan 11 years earlier.
Refinance to 15 years – There are great interest rates available for
mortgage loans. Consider a 15 year mortgage.
Principal Reduction – Watch for ways to add to your monthly payment a
little at a time. When possible, increase the principal payment you make.
Paying off your mortgage builds wealth. Consider your life goals, including
retirement. A 30 year loan taken out at 37 years old will not be complete until 67
– retirement age. The loan needs to be part of the overall financial plan from the
beginning and making payoff a priority with a few simple steps can add up to
huge savings in interest which can then be used for better investments.
Traditional lore says that the best time to list your home for sale is spring and if it
hasn’t sold by the end of summer, you’re out of luck. Along the same lines,
homeowners across the country are often advised not to list in the fall and wait
until after the holidays to list. The truth is that a great home will sell at any time
of year and in fact there are some very good reasons to list in the fall, while
everyone else is busy doing other activities.
4 Reasons to Sell this Fall
1. Less Competition – As mentioned above, most sellers list in spring so as a
seller, fall provides you less competition which increases the opportunity
for buyers to view your home.
2. Serious Buyers – Home buyers in fall often have a timeline to move before
the holidays. They tend to take the home search seriously and move to
write offers faster and avoid wasting time.
3. Curb Appeal – Fall is a beautiful time of year and homes always seem cozier
as the weather turns. Fall colors in the trees and the scent of baking entice
buyers to feel “at home” which encourages offers.
4. Closing is Easier – The pace of home sales slows during the fall; as such
lenders can move faster and the process tends to take less time.
The last and best reason to sell this fall is that it’s the right time for you and your
plans. Regardless of whether you are relocating, moving up or scaling down, if this
is the right time to sell, then this is the best time to sell.
Building a new home from scratch can be a dream come true. The idea of
designing the perfect property with morning sun in the kitchen and evening
breezes on the deck can be exhilarating; the first step to a successful project is
finding the right piece of land on which to build. This can present challenges if not
Top Tips When Buying Vacant Land
Hire Experience – More than most real estate transactions, it’s critical to
hire an agent who specializes in vacant land purchases and can guide you
through the steps.
Expect to Pay Cash – Finding a lender for vacant land can be very difficult.
Those who will finance land typically require a 30 to 40% or higher down
payment and above average interest rates and terms.
Get the Neighborhood Comps – Do not neglect to understand home values
in the community so you do not over, or under, build your home.
Do Your Due Diligence – It is critical to research the property thoroughly.
Just a few considerations much include.
o Site Surveys and Environmental Testing
o Easements and Zoning Restrictions
o Lot Survey and Boundaries
o Utilities and Water Rights
Once you’ve completed these preliminary reviews, it’s time to consult with an
architect and General Contractor who will then begin to develop concept
drawings to consider. Even at this stage, you might find that the home you want is
not appropriate for the land you’ve chosen. Staying flexible is a key component to
searching for land; remember that by following a few tips, you can ensure you
find the right lot for your dream home.
If you’ve been searching for a new home no doubt you’ve seen the term, “move-in ready.” This description sounds very appealing, but understanding what it
actually means is important so you have the right expectations when arranging
your home listing tour.
First it’s important to remember that the descriptions in real estate listings are
written by the listing agent or broker. There is no set industry standard for what
agents can say in their listings. While there are guidelines and rules which prevent
blatant lying, most home buyers have become aware of the fluffy language used
to market a home for sale.
The meaning of “move-in ready” is fairly straightforward; it means that the home
is in a condition which is acceptable for immediate occupancy. The home meets
the standards of living and assures the buyer that the essential elements needed
to occupy the home are present and in running condition. For example, the home
should have working plumbing, appliances, sound roof, electricity, gas and locking
doors and windows.
What “move-in ready” does not necessarily mean is that the home is in pristine
condition. A home that is “move-in ready” might still need significant updating
and while systems are assumed to be operational, they might still be old or
“Move-in ready” is a common phrase in real estate listings. Understanding that
the home might still need quite a bit of work to suit your taste and lifestyle, you
can approach the listing with realistic expectations and determine if the property
is the right fit for your needs.