On March 23rd, our world in the State of Washington changed as we know it. As we all hunkered down into our homes, many of us realized that perhaps it was no longer the “right” home. With more free time available, and little to do but shop online, we have noticed an uptick of interest among Seattle home buyers.
Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, Seattle’s real estate market was in full force. We saw a slow down after Gov. Inslee’s Stay at Home Order went into effect, but once real estate was deemed an essential service, we were back in action. While there are strict guidelines in place on how and when we can show homes, we continue to see multiple offers on homes that are in tip-top shape and priced accordingly.
In other words, there are no great “deals” to be had right now in Seattle. And now, more than ever, buyers need to be prepared. Here’s a few tips and tricks for success in Seattle’s real estate market during the time of COVID:
- KNOW THYSELF:
It’s time to take a deep dive into your home ownership desires and truly understand your wants and needs. With the current restrictions, gone are the days of open houses and full day tours. In fact, your broker may only be able to show you 2-3 properties in person. So it’s crucial to be laser focused on what you really want. Try using a helpful tool like our Buyer Brainstorm to explore all of the characteristics in a home that you might want to consider. If you have a spouse or partner purchasing with you, have them fill out the Buyer Brainstorm separately, then compare and contrast.
- GET APPROVED:
At this point, no real estate broker is going to take on the risk of public exposure if you are not fully pre-approved for a loan. The loan application can almost entirely be processed online and you will receive the knowledge and assurance that you can afford the right home. Ask your friends, colleagues, family or your real estate broker for lender referrals. Most importantly, you should be working with seasoned mortgage broker who has experience with lending in challenging times and is willing to answer your call on a Saturday.
- FIND AN EXPERIENCED REAL ESTATE BROKER:
Now is not the time to work with your cousin’s dog walker who just got into real estate. More importantly, working with a discount brokerage will more often than not, cause you to lose money in the long run. Let’s be honest, the market is still active, but it’s challenging . . . very challenging. You need a full-time professional broker on your side advocating for you every step of the way. Ask your friends, family and colleagues for a referral. Then check their online reputation. How are their reviews on Google or Zillow? Have they given attention to their website? If they can’t be bothered with presenting themselves professionally online, how well will they represent you?
- BE INTENTIONAL:
Because public open houses are not currently permitted, your opportunity to explore options is limited. While some listings have virtual open houses or 3D tours, you can be proactive by first driving by properties of interest before scheduling showings. Explore the surrounding neighborhood amenities to ensure it has your list of requirements. While there, use Google’s Commute tracker to ensure the commute will be livable once we are all back to “normal.”
- KNOW THE RULES:
As of today, only two people are permitted to view a home at once, one of which is your real estate broker. You must wear a mask, and will be asked to sanitize hands as you enter. You may also be asked to fill out a survey of your health history and exposure to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Each showing is by appointment only, and limited typically between 15-30 minutes. It is important to remember that we are all under the same restrictions and need to practice extra patience, understanding and flexibility.
The good news is that inventory is up and there are several opportunities for Buyers. With knowledge and patience, you can be successful in this market. Ready to explore home buying in Seattle? Download our Buyers Guide outlining our simple 8-Step plan to home ownership and contact us to setup a Zoom intake call.