The combination of a global pandemic and a wild real estate market in Texas have led to surprising changes in the process of buying and selling real estate. Because open houses and in-person home tours have not been as available recently, remote options have become more commonplace. In fact, many buyers and sellers are relying more on remote options, with some buyers entirely purchasing homes remotely.
To increase their success and satisfaction with remote real estate purchase, homebuyers should consider the following options when searching for and purchasing homes remotely:
Have a Wish list – Knowing in advance the location, size, and type of property is an important first step. Prioritizing that list, including essential items and features, focuses the search, avoiding wasted time and effort.
Find and Use a Good Realtor – Even though on-line research and virtual tours are available without one, a good realtor is still an essential part of home-buying. A realtor knows the local market well and can use the wish list to provide feedback about availability and price points. She or he can also be “feet on the ground” when necessary.
Prepare Financially – Buyers should evaluate their finances to determine what type of home they can afford in a particular market. Good preparation includes reducing debt-to-income ratio as well as checking and addressing issues with credit scores. Serious buyers should gather information and documentation in order to be pre-approved for a mortgage, all of which can be done virtually.
Use On-line Tools to Explore Properties – Real estate sites such as HAR.com offer options for exploring available homes and neighborhoods. Buyers can use these sites to explore a house room by room. The sites also offer options for drive time, street view, map view, and satellite view, providing images not only of the house itself but of the area surrounding the house. Google Earth is another good option for exploring the surrounding area virtually.
Prepare for the local Market – Texas is currently a seller’s market, with multiple bids coming in, often well above the list price. Buyers are encouraged to bring their “best and highest” bids by a particular deadline. This level of competition means that many buyers are sweetening the deal by allowing sellers to stay rent-free after closing or offering more earnest money. Some buyers are even including an escalation clause in their bids, which increases the buyer’s original offer as competitive bids come in.
Schedule a Home Inspection – Once your bid is accepted, a home inspection is particularly important when buying remotely because buyers can determine what repairs may be required before actually closing on the house. Realtors are often present and communicate with buyers during the inspection via a video call.
Hire a Real Estate Attorney – Although Texas does not require a real estate attorney, a wise buyer will make use of their experience and expertise throughout the buying process. The attorney is on the buyer’s side and will ensure that all documents are complete and accurate. Importantly, a real estate attorney, along with the title company, will confirm that the title is clear.
Buying and selling property remotely is just one way that the real estate market has adapted to a global pandemic. In many ways remote buying is more efficient, but it does have risks, particularly for the buyer. Working with an experienced real estate attorney helps buyers avoid pitfalls which might keep buyers from their dream home.
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