The COVID-19 virus has completely disrupted everyone’s lives these last couple of months. From people losing their lives, losing loved ones or their jobs, there is no denying the virus has touched us in some way, shape or form. It’s been a scary time.
It can also be a scary time to buy a house. We’ve been working towards the dream of buying our first home for the last 3 years. We found the perfect home for our family in early to mid March before things started getting pretty serious in our area with the virus.
It was a decision we needed to really consider, but quickly since the house already had two offers on it. After some thought and research we decided to continue with our dream of buying our first home. We put in an offer and it was accepted almost immediately!
I know there are probably some of you out there who are considering buying a house during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is such a huge investment for you and your family and definitely a decision to think hard about! I hope that by sharing our experience it can help you make a decision whether to go for it or wait it out!
How we prepared + things to consider
Look at job security
Probably the first thing you want to do before buying a house during COVID-19 is look at how secure your position is at work. I actually stopped working at my part-time nursing gig because I am pregnant during this pandemic. I only work a few hours on the weekends at an addiction clinic, so I didn’t think exposing myself for a few extra dollars was worth it.
Before making the decision, we had to look at my husband’s job and consider if he would be let go. Because he is a civil engineer for a pretty well-known company, we knew it would be a very slim chance he’d be laid off. They have plenty of clients and current work so he remains a big asset to the company.
We are extremely blessed that I am able to stay home but I know this is not an option for everyone. That is why considering your current work situation is so important before making such a huge investment like buying a home. If one of the major bread winners in the family is laid off, you might want to consider waiting until things are more stable before buying.
Look at finances
It’s no secret that the stock market has completely plummeted over the last month, and there is no telling when it will come back. If you have/had most of your money held up in stock, then obviously it might be best to wait to buy a house.
Luckily, we have been following the Dave Ramsey method of getting out of debt and recently became debt free last November. See our debt free journey here. If you follow his method, you know that he recommends having a 3-6 month emergency fund and then at least 10% to put down towards a home.
Thankfully our savings are in a safe place and we were already on track to buy a home. If you are in a tight situation financially right now, I highly recommend listening to his podcast. He always stays very positive about the current situation of the world and really helps calm us down when we start freaking out about the economy.
Hire a good realtor!
I cannot stress this enough. Buying a house for the first time is stressful by itself…buying a house during COVID-19 makes the stress multiplied by 100! We would have been completely lost without our realtor. If you are in the triad, NC area I would be happy to give you her info.
Her and her team were amazing during the home buying process. They made everything go as smoothly as they could. You want someone you can trust and who has your best interest at heart instead of their own wallets! She didn’t push us to buy at all, she wanted us to feel completely comfortable. That is so huge when buying a home for the first time, especially right now.
She also knew someone for every situation we ran into or service we needed. This included a mortgage company, home inspectors, structural engineers, surveyors, you name it she had it.
She also knew all the policies and regulations put in place due to the pandemic and lock downs. We would have had absolutely no idea what to do without her. Just something to really look into and consider before buying!
Home buying + closing process
Luckily, we found our house right before they shut everything in our area down. So, we got to see the house in person. I know that now most realtors are doing everything virtually. I think every area is different and some places might let you see the house if you are seriously considering buying the home or have a offer under contract.
We had a home inspection done and were present during it. We thought it was important to be present to make sure any issues the inspector came across could be explained and shown to us easily. Of course we kept our distance, didn’t shake hands and tried not to touch too many things.
We actually ran into quite a few issues we are glad we got to see with him. It is not required to be there with the inspector, though.
We also had a surveyor and structural engineer on the property that we were not present for (and you don’t have to be under normal circumstances either).
Everything else about the buying process was pretty standard and straight forward. After our final walk through the day before closing we said our goodbyes to our realtor since she wasn’t allowed to be at closing.
The closing process was probably the most unique situation we came across. It actually happened a lot faster than we thought it would. We showed up to the lawyers office and only one of us went in at a time. Brendan went first while I waited in the car with Hadleigh, my 2 year old, (we don’t have family around or childcare because of the pandemic), and then we switched places.
Outside of the office they made us sign a form to make sure we hadn’t traveled or had any Coronavirus symptoms. They gave us each a pen to keep so they weren’t recycling pens + spreading germs.
Then, the secretary came to get us and led us into a conference room with only one lawyer. We were expecting a bunch of more people but because of the situation there was just two of us in the room at once. We made sure to keep a good distance between us.
Everyone in the office wore gloves and masks. We only wore gloves because we don’t have any masks right now. The lawyer had us sign the documents, handed us the keys and that was it!
Pros of buying during pandemic
Lets start by saying there are no benefits that could ever outweigh the costs this virus has brought to us. But, I refuse to be consumed by negativity. I know that God has a plan and purpose for all of this.
With that said, there are SOME benefits to buying a house during COVID-19.
Low mortgage interest rates
This was a huge weighing factor in our decision to buy now. We weren’t sure of what the interest rates would be once the “dust settles” with this pandemic. We weren’t sure how the state of the economy would be in the future either. All we knew was that the rates were fluctuating daily and even got as low as 3 percent!!
We originally locked in at a 3.5% interest rate. That is seriously an amazing rate! My parents were telling me when they first bought a house the interest rates were 9 percent!! How insane is that?!
Our mortgage lender told us if rates went down again before closing they might consider adjusting it (if the difference was significant). Well, when we signed our closing papers we got a 3.25 percent rate! We are thrilled! Definitely a huge benefit to buying a home right now.
We felt like we had a little more “power” as buyers compared to our seller, which made us more confident when negotiating prices and home repairs. It seemed as though our seller was in a rush to get the ball rolling since our closing date was 3 weeks from when we put an offer down.
We felt like we had the upper hand in negotiations because of this. He wanted to sell the house quickly. Whether that had something to do with the current pandemic situation is unclear, but I predict it did. Sellers are probably a little nervous right now to put their house on the market and won’t want to risk losing their buyer. That’s just my opinion anyway.
Related post: How to Pay Off Student Loans Fast
Cons of buying during pandemic
This is a time of crisis. And during a crisis, taking on any investments is a risk. One thing we can all agree on with this pandemic is that life is never guaranteed, and neither is your money.
So like I talked about before, it’s good to take a thorough look at your financial situation and make sure buying a house during COVID-19 is a smart move for your family.
Housing market uncertainty
I know another thing my husband and I talked about was what if the market crashes and we end up losing money on the house?
We had to look at the possibility of being in this house for longer than 5 years, or however long it takes for the housing market to come back (if it even does crash). That way when we want to resell, we won’t be losing any money.
We decided that we have plenty of room in the house we purchased and it would be fine with us if we had to stay longer than planned.
The world is crazy right now. It’s stressful, scary and can be disheartening at times. But don’t let it kill your dreams. Waiting to buy a house doesn’t mean you failed or that you never will. Buying a house during COVID-19 is a huge deal.
We are deciding to be thankful to God, and count our blessings. We believe this is what He wanted for our family. We worked hard for 3 years paying off debt, living frugally and in neighborhoods we didn’t like so that we could finally call a place our own. And now we are homeowners! It is possible and you CAN do it!