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If you’re emerging from your home after the COVID-19 shutdown wanting to buy a new one, you aren’t alone.
Fifty-six percent of residents in Delaware and the Greater Philadelphia region are interested in buying a home this summer and fall, according to a recent WSFS Mortgage Regional Study. Historically low interest rates, changing work habits and pent-up demand suggest a healthy rebound is coming our way for the housing market.
There’s more good news for the economy, too. Seventy percent of those polled want to remain in the region, and more than half believe the area is affordable.
The outlook is especially promising among younger homebuyers. Sixty-nine percent of Gen Zers (ages 18-24) and 60 percent of young millennials (ages 25-29) say the region is affordable. That’s important given that many metropolitan areas were showing declines in young adults even before the pandemic, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of 2019 U.S. Census figures.
Work and lifestyle habits have changed due to COVID-19, and many homebuyers are looking for more space to accommodate working from home more often for the foreseeable future. Whether in the suburbs or in a city, the home continues to be a central place in our lives, maybe now more than ever.
But even in the best of times, buying a home can be daunting. The WSFS survey found most people experience high levels of anxiety – especially when it comes to finding the right home at the right price and obtaining financing. Two-thirds of those surveyed expressed concern about finding the right real estate agent and mortgage professional.
What can ease these concerns? It turns out that homebuying is still a hands-on, people-driven business.
Here are some tips for navigating the process as you begin the search for your next home.
Focus on relationships
Buying a home is one of the biggest steps in your life. The process can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be too stressful if you have the personal, hands-on help of a professional.
Eighty-five percent of people surveyed want a person to help guide them through the various steps of the entire mortgage process, and only about one in 10 looks for an online bank or mortgage company.
That’s true even with younger buyers who are used to spending much of their lives online. Eighty-one percent of both Gen Zers and young Millennials said they want in-person help for each step.
The reason? Most people understand that a decision as big as buying a home is a team effort. This means working with real estate agents and mortgage professionals who have experience helping people just like you – whether they’re buying their first home or a condo to retire in at the beach. People want experts who know the local market and can get the best deal for buyers and sellers. Mostly, they want the personal touch that comes from being able to pick up the phone when they have a question and know that a someone who understands their specific needs will be on the other end ready to help.
Be flexible when it comes to restrictions
Open houses and home tours have been limited, or not permitted at all, until recently due to the pandemic.
A good real estate agent, though, can help you do many aspects of the home-buying process remotely, or at a safe distance, according to Realtor.com. Some agents are using video chats to walk perspective homebuyers though homes. A video tour can help you pare options and skip visiting some homes.
Where open houses are allowed, be respectful of social-distancing guidelines. Realtor.com suggests that you avoid touching anything in someone’s home and ask that owners open cabinets and closets prior to showing. Stay at least six feet away from your agent, wear protective booties and wash your hands with soap after you leave the home.
Be ready and be quick
Reports around the country suggest that homes that are in good shape and priced well sell very quickly due to pent-up demand. Multiple offers are increasingly common in many markets, according to Redfin.
Finding a lender who is thorough and responsive is important and it’s also wise to get your loan pre-approved to help expedite the closing process.
Buying a home is likely the largest purchase you’ll make. Preparing yourself and seeking guidance from a trusted lender and realtor can go a long way toward a rewarding experience.
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