The COVID-19 epidemic has created several problems in the real estate market, but by doing your homework, you can make these problems work in your favor. Buyers who absolutely don't have to sell have likely taken their house off the market, and sellers who aren't serious are staying home.


Firstly, get your financing in order. If you have a bank you enjoy working with, let them know you're looking for a new house and ask them to email you a letter of preapproval.

Take a look at your last home valuation or get an appraisal done. You want to be able to demonstrate that you have good credit and equity in your current home. Proof of income will also be necessary, so ask your accountant for a secured pdf of your tax return that you can provide to your preferred lender.

You want to know your price range before you start looking.

Look for Owner-Occupied Neighborhoods

Investors with cash are capitalizing on the current crisis. If you want a single-family home in a neighborhood with great schools, discuss your concerns with your local real estate agent. For example, if you are thinking of moving to North Carolina, you might want to look for a good  Myrtle Beach real estate agent. Let them know that you want to buy in a neighborhood that's at least 50% owner-occupied, and try to look upwards of that.

Current economic conditions have many people in a tough financial spot, so many properties look like bargains. However, the stability of the neighborhood could be in question.

Also, be aware that the number of real estate investors currently in the market means that fixer-uppers will likely be in short supply. In fact, these are likely to be bought up before they can get listed. Search for a home that has the "bones" you want and make cosmetic upgrades.

Look for "Stale" Properties

Some houses just lack sparkle when presented digitally, or they may be dated or appear dark and dim. If you find a house in the right neighborhood that has lingered on the MLS, take a second look. Depending on the needs of the seller, you may be able to get a very good deal.

Go as Digital as Possible

The early steps of house hunting can be done from your laptop. Get preapproved, determine the remaining equity in your home, take virtual tours, and if you're moving to a new region, check out the amenities. Once you have things narrowed down, take physical tours of the houses you chose.

In the Real World

Be smart. Purchase disposable covers for your shoes, hands, and face. Touch nothing inside the house. Let the agent touch light switches and open doors. When you find a house that you're interested in, sign nothing that doesn't give you the out of an inspection. Hire your own inspector to check out the physicals under the house. The fee you pay an inspector on the home you walk away from could be the best investment you ever made.

Act Quickly

One of the biggest challenges of the epidemic is uncertainty. We don't know who, including ourselves, may be carrying the disease. If we get it, we can't know how severe our case will be. Worst of all, we can't know if, or when, things will go back to "normal".

If you find a house you want, sign a letter of intent or contingency contract. Find a local contractor with a good reputation and pay them to inspect and give you a ballpark quote on repairs. Be aware that this may change when they tear into the project.

Have a Cushion

If you have to sell your current house, you face the same uncertainties. If you can buy, move and then sell, you have a better chance of showing an empty house. Having a financial cushion is key in case you need to make multiple mortgage payments. Be ready to be flexible on your sale price to move the property.

COVID-19 has loosened up access to money for those with good credit. If you need to buy a new house and move, you can. Upgrade your tech at home or educate yourself on how to do an online meeting and how to study a virtual walkthrough.

Author's Bio: 

Katie earned a BA in English from WWU and loves to write. She also adores hiking in redwood forests and photography. She feels happiest around a campfire surrounded by friends and family.