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How to Buy and Sell a Home During the Coronavirus

Written By: The Orchard Team

April 17, 2020

If you’ve been thinking of buying or selling your home, you may be wondering if you should continue during the coronavirus. With most cities, counties, and states sheltering in place, it can be difficult to know what you are and are not allowed to do when searching for your next home. Not to mention whether or not it’s a good time to do so with the current market.

The good news is that most states, including Texas, Colorado, and Georgia, have deemed real estate an essential service. So let’s dig into what that means and whether buying/selling a home at the moment is right for you.

First off, what does it mean that real estate has been deemed an essential service?

Governors of the state of Texas, Colorado, and Georgia have all decreed that real estate is an essential or critical service. As listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, essential or critical services are “functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security”.

However, each state above and their subsequent cities and counties vary in exactly how realtors, buyers, and sellers can interact with each other, what transactions can occur in person, and whether home inspections and tours are still allowed. Read on for answers to common questions related to buying and selling a home.

Is it possible to sell a home right now?

Yes. You can still list and show your home in many states, including Texas and Georgia, where Orchard operates. You and your listing agent will need to follow CDC social distancing guidelines and protocols whenever potential buyers enter and view your home. You can also choose to market your home through virtual tours or video walk-throughs in partnership with your Orchard Home Advisor.

Be mindful of restrictions in your city, county or state, though. For example, home tours and home inspections are still taking place in Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Austin. In Denver, home inspections are currently allowed, but not home tours. You can also connect with our Customer Experience team or a Home Advisor to understand protocols in your area.

How can I determine the value of my home during the coronavirus?

As the market has become more volatile, it’s natural to wonder how the value of your home will be affected. Historically, housing prices tend to stay quite stable despite changes in the broader economy. While it’s tricky to predict exactly how the coronavirus will impact home prices, the housing market has been in strong shape, with consistent growth in home prices over the past 8 years. While we are seeing some buyers and sellers decide to pause their home search process, real estate experts believe this will be temporary, [1] [2] allowing home values to remain steady if not grow.

If you’re looking to understand the value of your home, Orchard can provide a free, no-obligation home valuation. Our valuations are 40% more accurate than other real estate websites and within 3.7% of a home’s final sale price. To get your home’s valuation, just answer a few questions here.

Ready to get started?

Is it possible to buy a home right now?

Yes, it is still possible to buy a home right now. And in fact, it may be a good time for some buyers, as mortgage rates are at some of the lowest rates seen in years. [3] [4] If you’re thinking of buying a home you can potentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage.

Understandably, some sellers have taken their homes off the market, so if you choose to look for a home at this time know there is less inventory to choose from. With fewer homes on the market in your area, you may need to be more flexible about your criteria or be prepared for your home search to take a bit longer. A helpful tool to get you started is to take our Home Match Quiz, which helps you find more homes that meet your wants and needs.

On the flip side, many buyers have also elected to hold off on buying a home, which means less competition for the home you love and even the potential to secure a good deal on your dream home.

Additionally, many title and mortgage services are still operational across all three states, including Orchard Title and Orchard Home Loans, both of which offer digital closing services so you can sign your documents from home rather than driving across town to sign in an office.

Can I still tour homes right now? If I’m a seller, can I offer home tours?

Home tours are still available in Texas and Georgia so long as they follow CDC social distancing guidelines and have the seller’s permission. As per the Colorado Division of Real Estate, in-person home showings are restricted until further notice. In all three states, an Orchard Home Advisor can send you virtual home tours or video walkthroughs of properties where available.

The same applies if you are looking to sell your home — Orchard can create a virtual tour of your home at no charge to you so buyers can get a feel for the layout and interior.

Should I buy or sell my home first?

Even in ordinary circumstances, the decision to buy first or sell first can be a tricky one, and the current market conditions will likely make lining up your timelines even trickier. If you’re looking to avoid double mortgages or double moves, Orchard can help. With our Buy & Sell service, you can buy and move into your new home first before you sell your current one. Once you move, we’ll take care of selling your old home without the hassle (or safety concerns) of showings or open houses while you still live there.

Going this route allows you to tour homes and make a strong offer to buy without rushing to sell your current home. No need to put your items in storage or move in with family or a rental while you wait for your current home to sell — you move straight into your new home.

I’m not ready to buy/sell at the moment. What can I do now to make sure I’m better prepared once I do decide to move?

If you’re looking to buy a home, it’s never too early to start browsing listings online. After you’ve taken our Home Match Quiz and found some listings you’re interested in, a great thing to do is simply to drive by them. While you won’t see the interior, you can still review the exterior and get a sense for the overall neighborhood. Consider what the commute might be like to work, what schools and parks are in the area, if there are restaurants or coffee shops you might frequent.

For those looking to sell their home, review our Home Maintenance Checklist to start getting your home in shape to sell.

Last, if you’re unfamiliar with the home buying and selling process or need a refresh, below are helpful articles we recommend:

What is a Home Sale Contingency?

What is an Option Period?

What is an Earnest Money Deposit?

Who Pays the Closing Costs: the Buyer or the Seller?

What is a Seller Concession?

What Does a Title Company Do?

Still have questions? We’re here to help – call or email us at (844) 819-1373 and support@orchard.com.