Buying A Home During The Pandemic
By: Francy Freixas of Francy Sells Homes
The truth is, home buying can be intimidating if you've never purchased a property before, let alone during a pandemic. I'm here to break it down and help you get into your dream home.
STEP 1: You need back up. Enter the Dream Team. Let's be real. You would never perform surgery on yourself, or appear in court without proper representation. So why would you go at it alone on one of the most important purchases of your life? Here’s the core line up:
● Realtor: A trusted real estate advisor can help you navigate the market and find your dream home. They will be your main point of contact throughout your home buying journey and you'll rely on them to negotiate and close on your new home. Realtors are responsible for presenting offers, writing contracts, and managing all the details and deadlines once you’re under contract. Make sure to choose an experienced agent with an excellent track record (be sure to check reviews online!). They should also be tech-savvy enough to move efficiently through today's virtual marketplace. Look for someone that offers video tours, eSign, and other remote services that abide by social distancing guidelines.
● Mortgage Professional: No matter how financially savvy you are, chances are you don't know the nuances of mortgage lending and what it takes to get to the closing table. An experienced Mortgage Professional will review your finances and get you pre-approved for a home loan.
There are several other players in the home buying process (Title Company/Title Attorney, Inspector, Appraiser, Insurance Agent, etc.) that we will cover in future posts, but this is your starting point.
Pro Tip: This is not the time to give your tia’s new boyfriend, who just got his real estate license, or that friend from college that dabbles in the market part-time, their first shot. You are not a guinea pig. Your deposit is on the line once you enter a contract, so make sure you choose a qualified to professional to handle the deal. STEP 2: Prepare yourself financially.
Getting pre-approved before going out to see homes is essential. This will help you avoid the frustration of finding a home you think is perfect, but is not in your price range. These are the main elements that will be reviewed during the mortgage application process and a few tips on how to improve them.
Credit: Have a Mortgage Professional check your credit. This is very different from a basic credit monitoring app like Credit Karma because it goes beyond providing a FICO score. Your Mortgage Professional will go through your credit report with a fine-tooth comb and will advise you on what areas need work, if any.
Pro Tip: Use this time to fix your credit, this can make a huge difference in the long run when it comes to interest rates. Pay off small balances and dispute incorrect data reported by creditors.
Income: You will need to provide proof of income and assets via pay stubs, bank statements, and taxes. Verbal employment verification with your current employer is also required. Note: Employment verification has recently changed from 10 days before closing to 3 days. In addition many banks are asking about the future income security of the buyer. Make sure to tell your Dream Team if you are experiencing a reduction in earnings or have a change in employment status.
Taxes: Are you up to date on your tax filings? If not, now is the time to gather your records and contact your accountant to get it done.
Debt: Not all debt is created equal. For more details on Good Debt vs. Bad Debt, check out this article by Equifax. Discuss your debt with your Mortgage Professional, they can give you advice on how to best manage balances in preparation for home buying. Pro Tip: It’s a good time to take advantage of low-interest rates to refinance any high-interest loans or credit cards.
Don't withhold important information because it can be detrimental to your loan process. Honesty & transparency with your team is key, we are here to help!
STEP 3: Make a list. Now that you're spending extra time at home, think about your needs, wants, and deal-breakers. Discuss it with all the decision makers–your spouse, your kids, maybe even your parents. Be realistic and stick to your pre-approval budget (see Step 2.)
Things to consider: ● Type of Property: Do you prefer to live in a single-family home or townhome? Maybe you want to live in a condo building with a front desk or a gated community with amenities. ● Size: How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? ● Location: What is your ideal proximity to work, school, and major roadways? Do you need access to public transportation? ● Outdoor Features: What kind of outdoor spaces do you want? Is it a small balcony, a spacious yard, or acres of land? Maybe you really want a pool or a waterfront view. ● Parking: How many vehicles are in the household? Do you need a driveway or a garage? ● Condition: Are you looking for a move-in ready property like a newly constructed home, or do you want a fixer-upper? Make sure to set aside a repair budget if you want to tackle renovations.
If you have questions about how to get started on your home buying journey, I am offering complimentary virtual consultations. Contact me to schedule an appointment:
Francy Freixas, Realtor United Real Estate Miami Phone: 786-262-5279 Social: @FrancySellsHomes Email: FrancySellsHomes@gmail.com Web: FrancySellsHomes.com