Entering into the housing market, either as a seller or a buyer, is an exciting and confusing time. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and the process can be even trickier to navigate, especially when doing it for the first time.

Taking the steps to enter the housing market is a huge life event. It is one that can be extremely rewarding if you’re prepared. No matter which side of the market you are entering into, there are some tips you need to be aware of, especially since COVID has made some parts of the process different.

As a Seller

Making the decision to sell your home is a bittersweet one. You’re both excited by the thought of what comes next, yet sad to leave a place that holds so many memories. You also need to make plans and decisions about how you will sell your home. In addition to this, the COVID pandemic has placed some restrictions into the process which may require some creative solutions.

How You’re Putting Your Home Up For Sale

When selling your home, there are more options available to you than just going through a real estate agent. Other options include selling your home at auction or listing your home for sale by owner. How you decide to sell your home can have different impacts on the returns you see. Listing via a realtor subjects you to fees. Utilizing the auction process, which is done for more than just properties in distress, allows you more freedom and gives you options in the bidding process. Deciding to list your home for sale by owner puts more work on your to-do list, but also offers you complete control.

Virtual Open Houses

During normal times, you can expect to host an open house and invite potential buyers in for a viewing. However, during this abnormal time of COVID, sellers have had to get creative in showing off their homes to interested parties. This means hopping into the virtual trend and hosting open houses online where homeowners can walk interested buyers through the property on a live stream either individually or as a group.

Capitalizing on High Demand

Due to the pandemic, we have seen interest rates continually drop to historic lows. This means the real estate industry is currently a sellers market, which is good news for you. In other words, there are more people looking to buy than sell, thus driving up demand. For the seller, due to the increased demand, you are able to make certain concessions in the closing process or even ask for a little more for your home than you would in a reverse market.

Expecting a Longer Process

COVID also leads to potential delays in the closing process. Your buyer, a bank representative or your lawyer may suddenly become ill and require a 10-to-14 day delay in the process while they’re on the mend. Or, new restrictions could be placed on the industry by either state or federal officials with little notice also causing a delay. The pandemic has brought uncertainty to all aspects of life, including the buying and selling of homes.

As a Buyer

Coming to the realization that you’re ready to buy a home is an extremely exciting moment in your life, especially if you’re a first time buyer. You can easily see endless possibilities in front of you and can dream up ways to make the space you’re buying your own. The reality of making such a large purchase, however, can be overwhelming and confusing. COVID makes the process more drawn out and places more red tape in front of you, but it makes the satisfaction of closing even sweeter.

Determine What’s in Your Price Range

COVID has forced unexpected financial hardship on many people. Being fortunate enough to be in the position of buying a home is a blessing. To maintain your finances, it is extremely important for you to be aware of how much house you can afford. Take all of your expenses into consideration and cast a prediction model of what your personal finances would look like if you lost some of your income unexpectedly.

Request as Much Information as Needed

As mentioned in the previous section, the pandemic has restricted the possibilities of seeing the house you want to buy in person. Remember, this is a huge purchase for you and you are entitled to all of the information you want and need before making a commitment to buying. Do not be afraid to request more than one virtual look, photos, an inspection report, or even a safe, COVID-guideline compliant, in-person tour if possible.

Stay On Top of All Aspects of the Process

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when buying a home, especially during the pandemic. There is so much information, new experiences and adjusting to change coming at you from all areas of your life right now. Following a step-by-step guide to home buying from start to finish can help reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. It will also help you to stay on top of every aspect of the process to help make things go as smoothly as they can and get you into your new home as soon as possible.

Know What You’re Paying For

Since we are in a seller’s market, you’re going to see an increase in prices for homes due to the higher demand. You’re likely going to be spending years in the home you’re looking to buy right now. Therefore, you want to make sure that you know what you’re paying for and not drastically overspending on a property just because a seller takes advantage of the current market. Look at past sales within the neighborhood and of similar houses in the area. From there, you can determine what a fair price range is and if possible negotiate to that price.