Talking Real Estate
Featured Articles: Buying a Home in the Age of COVID-19 | How to Prevent Water Damage from Leaks | Three Risky Ways to Save Money
Buying a Home in the Age of COVID-19
While the U.S. wrestles with social distancing and a disrupted economy, you may not feel it’s the best time to buy a home, but you may be missing a great opportunity. Many buyers prefer to wait and sit on the bench, giving you more access to homes with less competition.
The real estate industry is still very much in business, but there have been many changes in how homes are being bought and sold. Here’s what you can expect.
Higher credit scores/down payments are required. News outlets are reporting that some banks, such as JP Morgan-Chase, are requiring higher credit scores as well as larger down payments to limit risk as people lose jobs and the economy wobbles. If you are in an essential business, that’s good, but you may need to sign a statement to that effect.
Virtual showings are the new normal. Virtual tours have been around for decades, but how they’re different is that your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional may hold the “camera” themselves, helping you zoom in details, features and concerns as you request them to. They can also conduct open houses, thanks to Zoom or other conference software. You can still see homes in person, but this is a great elimination and selection tool.
Inspections, final walk-throughs and closings are social distanced. To protect appraisers, inspectors, real estate personnel, etc., you may have to stay firmly six feet or more away, wear a medical-grade mask, and use sanitizer or wear gloves.
How to Prevent Water Damage from Leaks
Sooner or later, you’re bound to experience a water leak somewhere in your home. The usual culprits are shower pans, hot water heaters, washing machines and clogged plumbing – any of which can cause water damage.
Quickanddirtytips.com recommends finding the source of the leak and shutting off the water to it. Every drain and water-using appliance has a shut-off valve, so you need to know where and how to access it. In the worst case, you’ll have to go outside to your main water supply and shut off the water to the whole house.
Minimize water damage by removing as much water as possible by mopping and blotting the saturated area. If you have a friend who owns a shop-vac or you’re able to rent one, use it to drink up as much water as possible.
Remove at-risk valuables and furniture with fabric or wood from the room, if possible. Wipe down cabinets and other furniture that have gotten wet. Place aluminum foil between furniture legs and wet carpet. Gather as many electric fans as possible to direct airflow toward damp spots. Open doors and windows to let in fresh air.
Call your homeowner’s insurance and tell them the problem, what the damage may be, such as soaked carpet or hardwood floors, and what you’ve done to minimize it. They may refer you to a technician who specializes in remediating water damage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mold growth can occur within 48 hours of saturation, so act quickly.
Three Risky Ways to Save Money
The costs of buying a home are high, but they can become insurmountable if you cut out necessary services to save money. Here are some things to think about before you choose your next home.
Homeowner’s Insurance – Lenders require just enough homeowner’s or hazard insurance to cover the mortgage in case of disaster. While it’s tempting to go for the minimum, consider getting a policy that provides full replacement value. According to Nationwide, you can lower your monthly payment by raising your deductible. Also, ask for discounts that will lower your premium, such as installing smoke detectors or wind-resistant shutters. Some insurers will lower costs if you insure your home and automobile with them.
Inspections – Even with fairly new homes, there could be problems, so don’t waive your right to inspecting the property with a licensed inspector to save a few hundred dollars. The purpose of an inspection is two-fold, to determine what is in or is not in working order and to determine the potential obsolescence of systems and appliances, due to age, poor maintenance or items not built to current codes.
For sale by owner – Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional is licensed for your protection. They know how to protect your interests, including which fees are customary to pay, contingencies that allow you to walk away if the seller doesn’t perform, or an inspection doesn’t pan out. Otherwise, you could overpay for the seller’s property, pay the seller’s portion of closing costs, or make other costly mistakes.