The COVID-19 pandemic has led to swift and sometimes drastic changes in how we go about our business, including how we look for and purchase a home. Many of these changes were already in the works prior to the onset of COVID and the necessary limitations on in-person meetings and gathering of groups in confined spaces.
Prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing how technological advances such as virtual tours, aerial drone footage, and virtual notaries made easier the homebuyer’s search – including at the front end when you are just looking for houses of interest and eliminating those that clearly do not suit you. Those technologies, which previously meant less time driving from home to home, or to the escrow office, have come further into play now that open houses are a thing of the past.
The real estate market continues to boom in many areas, which means that buyers often have an elevated sense of urgency in making an offer on a home. Competing offers, escalation clauses, and short response deadlines that realtors use to encourage faster mutual acceptance all tend to elevate that sense of urgency. This sometimes leads buyers to move too quickly, which, after they close on the deal and move in, may leave them with “buyer’s remorse.”
Here are 3 tips to help reduce the chance that you rush into a purchase that you later regret:
- Never waive the inspection. A thorough home inspection is your one chance to identify defects that may adversely affect the value of the house. Unless the sellers have obtained and provided you with a recent report by a qualified home inspector, get an inspection of your own.
- Always drive and walk the neighborhood. We have seen clients buy homes after only viewing them virtually, only to discover later that the noise from traffic or a train line or an airport is substantial. We’ve also had clients who buy a home after only touring the area on a weekend – and then on their first day of commuting to work from their new house, they discover that the traffic is far worse than they ever imagined in that area. Other negatives, such as the odor from a pulp mill, or noise from the neighbor’s chickens, will never show up on a virtual tour. If you can’t get to the property before reaching mutual acceptance, have someone you trust do so.
- For new homes, have a lawyer review the “warranty.” Please see our article on “5 Things to Avoid When Buying a New House” for some good tips when buying a new home. The so-called “warranty” that may come with your home may in fact be a litany of waivers and exclusions masquerading as a so-called “warranty.”
These tips are particularly important during a time when our ability to personally interact with a property and with people is severely limited, but they apply to all home-buying circumstances as well. If you discover that your recently purchased home has serious problems that were never disclosed by the seller, are wondering whether you should be concerned about your findings of your pre-purchase home inspector, or if you are unsure whether the “Warranty” being offered to you by a builder-seller is a good thing or a bad thing, please feel free to contact us.