HomePostsVirtual Viewings and Curbside Completions: How to Buy a House During the COVID-19 Pandemic
View of back of house, with patio and large yard.

Virtual Viewings and Curbside Completions: How to Buy a House During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The real estate market is, and will continue to be, different due to COVID-19. From the first viewing to closing, new rules are in place and are constantly being updated. Mr. Cooper is here to help you navigate the new normal and keep the dream of home ownership alive, even in these turbulent times.

The new reality for real estate agents

Real estate agents are on the frontline of the new reality in home purchases.

Dealing with a variety of challenges and changes related to the pandemic, it’s clear that real estate agents need to stay on their toes. There have been massive shifts in how companies are working across the globe (Mr. Cooper is just one example), and the home buying and selling process is also seeing changes and opportunities. If homebuyers and sellers need a little more help understanding the housing market today, we can probably agree that it at least feels different than real estate in the pre-COVID-19 world.

However, for many real estate agents, it’s been business as usual—sort of. Mayde Pokorny is an agent with Curasi Realty in upstate New York.

“Business has carried on almost as normal for me,” she said. “Sellers are a little bit leery about having strangers walking through their property, but everyone is really understanding and flexible. There’s a real feeling of camaraderie as we work through this.”

Virtual viewings

Mayde now provides virtual viewings for her clients by doing a live walkthrough or creating a video to send via email. She believes that virtual viewings will be far more common in the future now that people are comfortable with the technology.

NAR says 58% of its members in a survey reported buyers using virtual tours, but homebuyers are also advised to drive by properties and explore the local area as much as possible.

Overall, Mayde’s advice to potential buyers and sellers is to be flexible and patient.

“It can take a little longer to coordinate things, but ultimately people still need to move, and to sell homes.”

More properties set to come onto the market

NAR says that although it has seen a fall in sales, it expects a bounce-back.

“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in an announcement.

He has also stated, “As consumers become more accustomed to social distancing protocols, and with the economy slowly and safely reopening, listings and buying activity will resume, especially given the record low mortgage rates.”

Changing tastes among buyers

A NAR survey found that buyers are putting more emphasis on a home office, yard, and space to accommodate an older adult, new baby, or new pet.

To prepare for buyers, many sellers are completing DIY projects on their homes during lockdown. NAR reported that 77% of potential sellers plan to sell their homes following the end of stay-at-home orders—with half having completed their own home improvement projects.

Changes when getting a loan

Some buyers have also seen their loan processes affected by the pandemic. In rare cases, the availability of essential services such as obtaining a title or appraisal have been impacted by business closures in some counties. See our frequently updated guide to counties where loan processing is impacted by COVID-19 for more information.

Working through windows with notaries

Closing on homes is another area where much has changed. In addition to remote notarizations, some closing companies are recommending a process called window-separated signing, or porch signing, in which loan signings are conducted through a window or doorway at a safe physical distance. Notarizations vary by states’ laws, but the National Notary Association has published guidelines for performing window-separated signings. Essentially, when an item is passed between the signer and notary, one person must place it in a neutral area and then step back.

All told, there are a variety of options available to help you meet your homebuying goals in the pandemic, and our loan advisors are undergoing constant training to support you along the way.