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Buying a home can be an overwhelming journey, especially when it’s your first time. Today, given the coronavirus crisis, it’s likely to be way more taxing as there’s uncertainty about the future. You’re probably wondering if you’ll have a stable income source in the next few months, how safe your future home will be, or if it’s really the right time to buy a home.
All these concerns are valid. Yet, it’s also worth keeping in mind that it’s possible to go through the home buying journey with confidence and less stress. The key? Preparation. Get these three things ready when you’re buying a home in the middle of a pandemic:
First things first, prepare your finances. A property is a big purchase. Plus, your cash flow may be a bit unstable, given the economic instability now. This is a big reason to be mindful of your finances. Here are some aspects you should consider:
Determine how much you can borrow
If you’re unable to make an all-cash offer, you need to take out a mortgage. While you can ask a loan officer to draw up a budget for you, you can also calculate it yourself.
Outline all your monthly sources of income. Include your monthly salary, business revenues, and extra income from side hustles, if any. Then, write your non-housing related expenses, say, transportation, food, and most especially medical care. You wouldn’t want to be caught empty-handed in the event that the novel coronavirus hits someone close to your family. If you’re planning to have kids soon, factor this in as well.
With income and expenses in view, you’ll be able to get an amount that you can dedicate to mortgage payments. Set a borrowing ‘cap,’ which would limit the loan amount you’re taking out.
Boost your income
As mentioned, times are unstable. A lot of people got laid off from work or have been put under a no-work, no-pay scheme. Anyone may experience this, including you or your partner. That said, make every effort to boost your earning capacity.
Apply for online jobs, which you can do outside work hours, say, weekends. Set up a home-based business. Sell essentials to your neighborhood. Promote your food specialties on social media. This will prepare you for the home you’ll purchase, save extra money for potential healthcare needs, and help in raising kids soon.
In this age of social distancing and community quarantine measures, technology is king. Online is the way to go. Fortunately, the entire home buying process can be done on digital platforms. These are the tools you will need in every aspect of the journey.
- Real estate marketplaces and property websites. Start your search on real estate platforms such as Lamudi. Use the search filters, such as location and budget, to narrow down the properties you’ll be choosing from. Once you settled on two to three properties, check the listing if there are 360-degree virtual tours of the units you’re eyeing.
- Video conferencing tools. Sometimes virtual tours aren’t available publicly. In this case, set up a meeting with a real estate agent of the development. Speaking to an expert, even virtually, would give you more insights and make you more confident in going through this journey. On platforms like Lamudi, the name and contact information of the broker is provided for each listing.
- Emails and bank apps. Once you decide on a property, it’s time to reserve. For this, the broker can send the agreement via email. Review the terms, use an e-signature, and send it back. For the payment, use your bank app to transfer funds to the official bank accounts of property developers. Use these same technologies in closing, along with video conferencing tools, to discuss legal documents with your broker.
Needs and Wants
Aside from the budget and technology, consider your list of needs and wants. This is important now, especially because the coronavirus pandemic and the likelihood of future outbreaks added a slew of new priorities at home. More than having a home sweet home, you want a safe and healthy home, able to protect you from viruses and diseases. Here are some home needs and wants under the new normal:
- Key establishments in the location. When you’re in the middle of a crisis, you want to get to the hospital, supermarket, or bank as soon as possible to reduce time outdoors. Your next home should be in a location that would give you convenient access to key establishments.
- Leisure spaces in the neighborhood. Whether you’re going for a condo or a house and lot, recreational amenities in the village are now essentials, not only a luxury option. With the risk that comes with prolonged isolation in a pandemic, access to leisure spaces is crucial for both mental and physical health. When scouting for your next home, see if the neighborhood has swimming pools, basketball courts, and jogging trails. If you’ll be having kids soon, nearby playgrounds are a must as well.
- Ample space in the unit. The last thing you want when cooped up at home during a pandemic is feeling like your family is cramped in a small space. This doesn’t mean going for a big home, but it should be enough to accommodate your needs. Consider the number of kids you’ll be having in the next five to 10 years and anticipate space requirements.
It’s true that buying a home during a pandemic is a lot more challenging. Yet, it’s possible to go through it with confidence. Keep these things in mind as you begin your search until you can proudly say that finally, you’re home.