We are seeing the economic effects of COVID-19 in real-time. This “new normal” is going to be far-reaching, long-lasting, and will likely result in a lengthy recession. It’s not all gloom and doom, though. Markets fluctuate, but they are resilient. There are great ways to make the best of this bad situation, particularly if you plan on buying a home.
If you have been patiently waiting for housing prices to go down, boy do we have news for you. There has never been a better time to buy. Historically low mortgage rates combined with motivated sellers make this a great buyer’s market. Job instability is a concern, but if you have a stable job situation and a little bit of money saved right now, it could be an opportune time to purchase a home. With less competition from other homebuyers and sellers willing to negotiate, this could be your chance to find your dream home.
Here are some tips to put you in the best position to buy a home during a recession:
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Homebuyers who already have financing in place are in a better negotiating position. Having savings is always a bonus, but go ahead and get pre-approved before you start shopping so you can enter every conversation with confidence.
- Organize your finances. Don’t get too excited – just because a house is a good deal doesn’t mean you can afford it. Work on your budget. Make sure you take stock of all your assets and debts before you make any big decisions.
- Do your research. With unstable markets, housing prices can fluctuate and give a false sense of value. Make sure you research your neighborhoods well! Knowing historic pricing for an area can give you a sense of objectivity when evaluating an offer.
- Get a home inspection. In uncertain times, sellers may be trying to offload homes with problems that are costly to repair. Be very thorough and make sure you’re not buying the home equivalent of a lemon!
- Clear the title. Start with a clean slate. Sometimes the home of your dreams can be the property of your nightmares. Make sure that the property doesn’t have any liens from a contractor or a lending institution. Have a lawyer run the title of your new home to verify it will be transferred without risk.
- Use your bargaining power. Watch for motivated sellers. If the price has been reduced on the home several times over the last few months, it may be a signal that they have already moved and are holding the mortgage on two properties. In this situation, the seller may be willing to negotiate to cover closing costs and other fees in order to quickly complete the sale.
- Avoid unnecessary fees. It’s your market right now! When houses move slowly, realtors will sometimes take a few percentage points off of a commission in order to get the deal signed. Negotiating these fees down before closing can benefit both the buyer and the seller, leaving everyone happy.
- Use logic. Have the emotional stability to walk away if it’s not the right deal for you. Wait until the right opportunity comes along before you commit.
Even with all these tips in mind, there is no such thing as a foolproof approach to the housing market. An unstable economy means there is risk involved in major purchases like a home, but fortune favors the bold. If you pay attention to these 8 tips, you may be able to find a tremendous deal by acting decisively while others are afraid to move.