If you’re hesitant about moving forward with your plans to buy a house amid COVID-19, here’s 5 ways you can be prepared once restrictions have been lifted.
For the past few months, Americans have had to put their lives on hold. We’ve hunkered down in our homes and, for the most part, have followed CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But, there are just some things that can’t be put on hold, like purchasing a new home.
The virus has caused realtors (actually, across the whole nation!) to revamp how they go about conducting business. As a buyer, there are things you’ll want to do to make the whole process smoother for yourself and your agent. Let’s take a look at some ways you can prepare to buy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Monitor your credit score
We all know that your credit score is one of the big factors lenders look at when considering if you’ll be approved and if you are, what your interest rate should be. Credit bureaus tend to look at credit cards, car loans, student loan debt, and even utilities. They also factor in your debt-to-income ratio to determine whether or not you can even afford a mortgage payment. So, try to keep your credit cards below 30%, make payments on time, and check your score monthly for any discrepancies. Working with a qualified loan officer such as Rose Pinto or Christy Cagle from HomeBridge can help!
- Know your budget
Part of buying a house is knowing how much house you can afford. During normal times, this is pretty easy to figure out. However, we don’t know what the economy will be like in the future. We recommend being more conservative with your budget. If you can comfortably afford a $250,000 house, consider looking for a house that’s maybe $25,000 less.
- Get pre-approved
Before COVID-19, buyers could be taken seriously if they had a pre-qualification letter from a lender. But now? Sellers are looking for people who have already been approved for a mortgage because pre-qualification simply isn’t enough. Even some real estate agents will require a pre-approval letter so they know how much house you can actually afford, in contrast to what you think you can afford.
- Avoid making big purchases or changes
It’s a general rule of thumb that if you’re in the process of buying a house, you don’t want to make any big purchases or changes, such as buying a car or getting a new job. While most people aren’t likely to run out and get a brand new car (or even a used car), there’s always the possibility that you may be laid off be it related to the pandemic or not. And, although you can’t control job loss, your credit will take a hit with a big purchase — and that could hurt your chances of being approved for a mortgage.
- Speak with a local agent
Whether you’re moving to a new city or if you want to move to a different part of the neighborhood, it’s not enough to only look at online listings. Do a bit of research to find a local agent with a good reputation. A knowledgeable agent will be able to answer any questions you may have, advise you about the market, and so much more. By chatting with an agent, you can get a better sense of the neighborhood and what kind of houses you can get at your price point.
There’s a lot of uncertainty due to this global pandemic and much of our lives are in a state of limbo. However, when you need to buy a house, remember these tips because they’ll help make the process swift and painless.
For more on COVID-19 and the real estate comeback, check out HomeLight’s Top Agent Insight Survey from Q2.
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