Frequently Asked Questions: Buying a home during a pandemic

Portrait of a real estate agent wearing a facemask while showing houses during the COVID-19 pandemic - Loralee Wood | Las Vegas Realtor

The process of buying a house has significantly changed ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit the US early this year. It’s hard to say when we can actually go back to the “old normal,” given that a dip in cases can very quickly rise again.

In the meantime, the real estate industry has been doing all it can to make our customers feel safer when purchasing or selling a house.

I know you have many questions about the impact of COVID-19 in real estate, especially if you’ve been searching for how to buy a house in Las Vegas. As a real estate professional since 2001, I compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about buying a home in the time of coronavirus. Here are the answers you might be looking for.

FAQ: Can I still buy a house now?

If you’ve been eyeing your dream home, it is possible to purchase it. Residential and commercial real estate are listed as essential services that can continue to operate, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Even if state orders can overrule that guidance, you can consult with your local real estate agency to find out if there are ways to transact a sale at this time – by abiding by health protocols, for example, or through virtual means. However, just be prepared for delays or a process that takes longer than usual. You also need to check if the seller is comfortable proceeding with the transaction. Your real estate agent can help answer any questions you have in the neighborhood you’re buying from.

FAQ: Should I visit open houses?

It’s advisable to avoid open houses for now. Nevada governor Steve Sisolak o signed a directive prohibiting open houses and in-person showings of tenant-occupied properties beginning August 1. Instead, real estate agents are encouraged to practice contactless transactions whenever possible for homes for sale in Las Vegas.

While one-on-one showings are allowed in non-tenant occupied properties, be sure to adhere to every precautionary health guideline.

FAQ: Is it still OK to buy a house now from a financial standpoint?

There are financial perks to purchasing a home now – mortgage interest rates are at an all-time low. This means lower monthly housing payments. You can take advantage of the current interest rates by making a competitive offer on a home and locking it in a contract once your offer has been accepted.

Note that there’s been a surge of home buying activity of late – precisely because interest rates are at a historic low. As a result, prices have risen compared to last year’s figures. Therefore, you need to weigh attractive interest rates against higher house prices. Think about which serves you best in the long run – or in the short term.

You should also ask yourself if now is a good time for you. Do you have a stable job? Is your employer anticipating layoffs? These are the questions you should keep in mind. If your financial standing is currently in the wind, it’s probably best to wait a little longer before buying.

FAQ: Are closing processes longer now?

Yes, closing on a home is much lengthier now. Closing times went from 26 days in January to as long as 60 days in March. Anticipate that it’s going to take longer in the coming months. Lenders are buried in a backlog of paperwork because of the influx of refinancing applications due to historically low mortgage interest rates.

Social-distancing and stay-at-home measures have made the home closing process more challenging as well. Home inspections and appraisals are still possible but expect that they will take longer. Also, remote online notarization is accepted in Las Vegas, easing the process of verifying identities and documents.

FAQ: What are “coronavirus clauses?”

A “coronavirus clause” was instituted by the Las Vegas Association of Realtors to protect buyers and sellers who are directly impacted by the pandemic. Also called the “coronavirus addendum,” it has been included in real estate agreements.

Let’s say you’re in the middle of buying a house and learn that you’ve been suddenly furloughed by your employer because of the pandemic. The coronavirus addendum shields you from penalties, and your down payment can even be returned. According to the National Association of Realtors, the clause may also include the unavailability of appraisers or inspectors, a buyer’s inability to personally sign documents, or business and government closures.

If you’re buying a home in Las Vegas, I’m ready to help you navigate the “new normal” process in real estate transactions. And if you’re buying a house in the military, I’m the #1 Military Relocation Specialist in Southern Nevada. With over 18 years of assisting clients in military home buying, I’m ready to help you at this time. Let’s get started today! Call me, Loralee, at 702.419.3212 or send me an email at loralee(dotted)wood(at)cbvegas(dotted)com.