Spring is in the air… but so is uncertainty. The spread of COVID-19 has meant big changes for most Bostonians: instead of packing into Fenway Park, we’re self-isolating. Instead of enjoying the weather at our favorite restaurants, we’re becoming intimately acquainted with whether we actually know how to cook or not.
But one of the biggest changes has to be for prospective homeowners. Typically, spring is the beginning of open house season, and one of the best times of the year to seal the deal on a more permanent home. But with changes like Massachusetts’ stay at home advisory going into place, the question of what is and is not essential is on everyone’s minds.
But what does this mean for home buying? What if you’ve already signed a contract: can you still move in?
With the understanding that the situation is constantly evolving, here’s some real answers.
Can I Buy A House During the Coronavirus Lockdown?
In a word, yes. Barring a moratorium on the sale of real estate — which has never happened in the United States, and is slightly less likely than a genie to show up and grant you three wishes — there’s nothing preventing the sale of a home from taking place.
There are, however, plenty of factors making it more complicated. Especially if you’re trying to navigate the changing landscape on your own. Now, more than ever, working with an experienced agent will make all the difference. This is where the power of the Boston Pads database network comes into play. Up-to-date information is critical, as is a wide selection of properties. Now, more than ever, a digital advantage makes all the difference.
Can I See the House Before Buying it?
Yes, but it’s going to be a lot more involved process than usual.
As of this writing, the limit on public gatherings is 10 or more people in a single place, which makes the prospect of an open house daunting. And even without the guideline in place, many homeowners are understandably reluctant to invite strangers sight unseen into their homes. Can you sell a property without an open house? Of course. Can you see a property without an open house? Absolutely. But doing so requires significantly more planning and forethought.
With a stay at home advisory in place, house showings become significantly more complex. If the home currently has residents, this is likely a no-go: especially if any of those residents are elderly, immunocompromised, or otherwise at increased risk of COVID-19 infection. If the house is currently vacant, things become significantly easier. Scheduling a visit alongside your real estate agent is much more feasible: though again, we want to stress the importance of maintaining social distancing practices.
Are Virtual Showings Any Good?
You’d be surprised! While they still aren’t a complete substitute for visiting a home in person, a good virtual showing provides an excellent view of the property in question. When it comes to a sense of space, perspective, and visualizing yourself, your family, and your possessions in this new space, remote virtual showings are more than sufficient to get a feel for the property.
Asking questions during a showing is always good practice: but in a virtual showing, it’s absolutely essential. While the normal quantitative questions are still valid, don’t be afraid to ask your agent to help fill in the virtual gap with qualitative questions. How open does the living room feel when you’re in the space? What’s the texture of the countertops and cabinets like? What’s the smell of the flower gardens, etc.?
Your agent is essentially your virtual avatar in your potential new home. So don’t be shy about asking for a look around!
Can I Move Into My New House During Lockdown?
Yes: though again with some caveats. Be sure to strictly adhere to advisory guidelines: so with public gatherings of 10 or more people out of the question, a block party-style move-in bash is off the table.
Objectively, this is the time to work with a professional moving service. Even if you’re used to moving things on your own, proper social distancing guidelines will be incredibly difficult to maintain during laborious physical activity. Plus, ensuring that your moving vehicles — whether rented or personal — are properly sanitized can require even more time, energy, and focus than moving normally does. That’s no mean feat.
A professional moving crew, on the other hand, will have the training, equipment, and practice to get you into your new abode without placing anyone at unnecessary risk. Trust us: you’ll have plenty to worry about as it is. Leave this one to the professionals.
Hasn’t Covid-19 Made it a Bad Time to Buy a House Though?
To be sure, the effect of quarantines, illness, and the tragic loss of life has exerted pressure on the American economy. However, all those reports you’re hearing about “the market?” Those are referring to the stock market. The housing market, as it turns out, is actually positioned very attractively right now, with mortgage rates hitting an all-time low during the COVID-19 outbreak.
If you think about it, this actually makes a lot of sense. Anyone looking for a safe investment is having a difficult time: but real estate holds its value, even through a recession. With everyone facing financial uncertainty to varying degrees right now, steps have been taken to keep the housing market viable for buyers — especially first-time buyers.
Objectively speaking, it’s one of the better times to buy in recent memory: a silver lining to these uncertain times.
Be Sensible, Be Smart, and Above All, Be Safe
COVID-19 presents a challenge to all of us. No matter what walk of life you hail from, the unfolding situation has caused us all to make some real changes in our day-to-day life. Still, life goes on: and that includes your life. If you’ve been looking at purchasing a house — or on the fence about doing so — the Coronavirus lockdown certainly introduces some new wrinkles, but you shouldn’t let it stop you from finding your new dream property.
If you’re considering that purchase yourself, our agents can help guide you through the uncertainty, and get you into a home you’ll love.
And since it looks like we’ll be spending even more time at home, that’s more important than ever.
Published March 25, 2020
Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.