Can I Still Buy a House During a Crisis? Your Questions Answered

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If you’re one of the many prospective home buyers out there who was planning on taking advantage of the prosperous housing market, you might be wondering how the current global situation will impact your homeownership goals.

Though the prospect of purchasing a home amidst a crisis can feel overwhelming, it’s not impossible. Should you feel lost on where to begin in the home buying process during these trying times, use the information below to answer any pressing questions you may have.

Is it possible to start the process while staying at home?

The quick answer to this question is yes, you can still start the home buying process without even having to leave your current residence. The first step most realtors will advise you to take is to go through the process of pre-approval.

Work with a mortgage lender you trust, and consider getting approved through a credit union you already belong to, as some may offer discounts for current members. In most cases, getting pre-approved is a fast and painless process. Set up a phone call and be as honest as possible with them about what you can afford. Once your approval paperwork has been finalized, you’ll need to send it off to a realtor.

Whether your family has a specific realtor they usually work with, or you’re looking to find your own for the first time, don’t hesitate to call around and find the right real estate agent for you. Though it might not feel important at first, meshing well with your realtor will end up helping you in the long run.

Find an agent who you’re comfortable expressing your opinions with, as the process will be much easier if you feel your realtor has a clear understanding of what you need and want. Once you’ve been pre-approved and have nailed down the right agent, you’ll have access to an online portal of homes specifically curated to your needs, narrowing your search significantly.

How can I look at houses if I can’t go tour them?

Many if not all real estate agents are offering virtual tours via 360 cameras, or are willing to set up a video call and walkthrough of the home with you. Though most agents won’t recommend putting in an offer on a home you’ve only viewed online, it’s still an option should you be in dire need of nailing down a place to live.

Ask your realtor about virtual tours or if they would do a walkthrough of the home on FaceTime with you so you can get a better understanding of the places you’re most interested in.

Are there viable financial options for me to afford a home right now?

Perhaps the most stress-inducing factor when it comes to buying a home is the cost. During these uncertain times, you may be wondering if you can even afford to look at homes let alone proceed with the process of actually putting in an offer.

If you have recently been dealing with less than steady income, there still might be a way for you to make the transition to a house as opposed to an apartment.

Most first time home buyers find FHA loan requirements to be both affordable and well-suited to their needs. However, conventional loans are another option that may make more sense depending on the stage of life you’re in as a buyer.

As you research the right loan for you, you may find that you still aren’t able to afford the purchase of a new home due to the current state of the world. Should this be the case, ask your current mortgage lender, if you have one, about mortgage relief options as you may be able to hold off on your current mortgage payments without accruing interest allowing you to save some extra cash for the future.

Can I close on a home remotely?

Lastly, if you’ve already put in an offer on a home, or you are seriously interested in doing so even amidst this current crisis, you might be wondering if it’s even possible to close on a house remotely.

In some states and for some agencies there is the possibility of conducting an in-office closing while only having those required to be present in the building and only after the area has been completely sanitized. Beyond this, there is still some skepticism in regards to the acceptance of remote online notarization which would allow individuals to close on a house digitally, foregoing the need to enter an office during this season of social distancing.

The acceptance of RON (remote online notarization) can vary from county to county and also naturally depends on having the proper technology to conduct such a process. As you navigate the online world of home buying during this time, don’t be afraid to keep asking questions and to do your own research on what your options are. 

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