Buying or Renting a Home during COVID?| 5 Tips on House Hunting
So you plan on moving to a new home?
Despite the threat of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, many people and families still consider buying or renting a new property. Needless to say, the pandemic outbreak has changed how the property market operates. Finding a property may or may not be as convenient as before, depending on your local government protocols.
Though community restrictions have not yet been fully lifted in a lot of regions, this should not stop you from looking for your dream home. But where should you start?
In this article, we rounded up 5 tips to help you maximize your time, while minimizing risks of being exposed to possible disease transmissions during your house hunting journey. If you’re ready to search for your dream property, read on!
1. Create a wish list
Knowing what you are looking for in a property before you start your house hunt will save you time and effort. It is important to be clear with what you want and certain deal breakers at the outset. This goes beyond identifying your preferred number of bedrooms in a house or the property’s interior landscape.
If you’re a couple who plans on growing your family in a new home, for example, talk with your partner about your future goals, such as your children’s education. You can then start outlining the factors you want to consider when looking for a new property. This may include the type of neighborhood you want your children to grow up in and available schools or school districts nearby. You would also want to consider the distance of the home from important establishments (e.g., supermarket, hospitals, transportation hubs and entertainment centers) and from your workplace.
If you’re considering renting a new home, it is important to consider how long you will be staying. Make sure to check the terms and requirements of the lease. If you’re planning on buying a residence, think of the long-term impacts your future home may have on your family’s well-being. Though price is a major deciding factor, you don’t want to buy a cheap property only to end up in a bad neighborhood.
Your wish list may include the following:
- Type of property (condo, apartment, single-family house, etc.)
- Number of bedrooms and bathroom
- Floor area and total land area (for houses)
- Available amenities (for condos and apartments)
- Preferred school or school district
- Available key establishments nearby
- Distance from work
2. Search for potential properties online
The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way people do business transactions, especially in the property market. To implement strict social distancing measures, people have started relying on online platforms and property management apps, such as atMyCondo app, to search for properties. This helps minimize risks of getting infected and actually aids the local government in their efforts against COVID-19. Doing an online search first will also help you shortlist potential properties before going on an on-site house viewing marathon.
atMyCondo is a new property management app that features global property listings. With its easy-to-understand user interface, you can search for available properties for rent or for purchase within a specific distance of a location. The filter options will also enable you to search for properties with a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms, available parking, and minimum or maximum price range. You can check and download the atMyCondo app on Google Playstore (insert link to the app) and Apple App Store (insert link to the app).
Another tip in doing an online property search is to check Google maps to get an aerial view of the surrounding neighborhood and available establishments near the property.
Make sure to note the properties that caught your interest and met your initial requirements.
3. Work with an expert realtor
Working with just any agent available in the market may not help you get the results you want, thereby making house hunting more complicated than it already is. It is important to find a professional agent who is knowledgeable about your local property market. Make sure to find an on-the-ground agent who not only understands your needs but also knows the ins and outs of your locality.
Social media has been very helpful in finding property agents in a specific locality. You may check Facebook groups or Twitter accounts of local agents that you might have heard of.
You could also find reliable agents through property listing apps and see the types of property they are promoting. The atMyCondo app, for example, will allow you to locate available agents in specific regions and contact them through phone calls or email.
Once you’ve found a realtor, always let them know your property requirements, budget, any concerns and deal breakers. Certain community restrictions may delay house viewings, so you may also need to be flexible with your time table. Once communities fully reopen, real estate agents may also experience a sudden influx of businesses. It is important to give them enough time to meet your needs and find the best property for your money’s worth.
4. Ask for property video tours
To limit your exposure to possible risks of being infected, ask your realtor to provide video tours of potential properties. Though listing photos can give you a sense of the residence, photo angles and lighting may alter the actual property. Adding a video tour will allow you to have the overall feel of the house — its ambiance, dimensions, layout, square footage and even the current condition of any furniture available. Videos will also give you a more accurate view of the house that photos may not be able to capture, e.g., wall cracks, wallpapers that you don’t like, or termite-infested areas. Having a 3D online viewing of the property from your realtor will even let you experience the home virtually. Chances are, if you don’t like the property during the virtual tour, you may also not like it during the physical viewing.
There are several live streaming apps that you and your agent can use during the virtual tour, such as ViuLive, Zoom, and Skype. Asking your realtor to do a live virtual tour will allow you to ask questions and clarify property conditions in real-time. You may also ask them to extend the video tour to the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
5. Wear proper PPE during on-site property viewings
Once you’ve shortlisted all of your property options, you may want to conduct an on-site property viewing. When your local community has allowed such activities, it is advisable to schedule your property viewing on a single day whenever possible. Always ask your agent for any requirements before going to showings, such as forms and health questionnaires to be filled out. Some sellers and landlords may be hesitant to allow you (and the agent) to enter the property due to health risks. If you are serious about a property, you can get pre-qualified before going on a physical viewing. This will show property owners your sincere interest as a potential buyer.
To protect yourself, as well as the owners and the agent, from any possible transmission, always wear your personal protective equipment (PPE). Though masks are a must (depending on your local guidelines), it pays to have extra protection through a face shield, for example.
To secure your and your family’s safety, always observe the following COVID-19 safety guidelines when viewing a home:
- Minimize physical contact whenever possible, such as handshakes.
- Observe social distancing at all times, maintaining at least 2 meters of distance from each other whenever possible.
- Sanitize your hands before entering the property. Though owners may provide you with a hand sanitizer or a handwashing area, it would be better to bring your own sanitizer or alcohol.
- Avoid touching surfaces whenever possible. If you must, wear gloves to control any possible spread of microorganisms. Depending on the type of surface, the COVID-19 virus may stay for as long as several days on unsanitized surfaces, such as countertops, tables, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, and toilets.
- Take a bath immediately and segregate your used clothing upon reaching your home to cleanse away any disease-causing microorganism.
Though the pandemic has caused certain inconveniences to business activities in the property market, house hunting still remains an exciting journey. For property seekers, it could mean an unfolding of a new chapter in their lives. To make this journey as easy, safe, and COVID-free as possible, it is important to prepare yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally before starting your house hunt.
Whether you’re casually checking properties or seriously considering investing in one, here’s a recap of our 5 helpful tips:
- Create a wish list.
- Search for potential properties online.
- Work with an expert realtor.
- Ask for property video tours.
- Wear appropriate PPE during on-site property viewings.
Have you gone on a house hunt amidst the COVID pandemic? Please share your experience in the comment section below!