If 2020 is your year to buy a home, you belong to one of two camps: full-speed ahead or cautiously waiting. The reality is that now is as good as any time to buy; the process is just a little different with social distancing measures in place. Let’s take a look at what Jersey City home buyers can expect post-COVID-19.

Health of the Market

2020 was expected to be a strong year, and COVID-19 understandably put a damper on what was starting to be a great year. However, the real estate market hasn’t ground to a complete halt. Instead, there was a short lull while Jersey City real estate agents, and other industry professionals, figured out how to conduct business with social distancing measures in place. So, it’s still game on for potential buyers; the way the game is played is just a little different. Since late April, the market has strengthened to levels prior to COVID-19, in North-Eastern NJ we are seeing a V level recovery right now.

Pre-approval by a Preferred Lender

You want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start house-hunting in earnest. This is especially applicable to young or less established buyers, as well as buyers needing to sell their current property in order to purchase. While now is a great time to buy, some bigger banks have tightened the qualifications for borrowers. Most notably, those lenders now require higher credit scores, so those younger buyers without established credit may need to hunt for a lender to get a mortgage. NOT TO WORRY, your real estate agent will have lenders who are ready and willing and able to help you on all facets of the lending process. Trust your real estate agent, they have a fiduciary responsibility to you.

Spend a Lot of Time Online

Social distancing means sellers and agents have increased their virtual photo and video offerings online. When perusing listings, make sure you take advantage of all of the virtual offerings to help narrow down your choices. Not only will you have a better idea going in, but you’ll save yourself time and exposure by physically touring fewer homes.

Begin your research by exploring different areas and neighborhoods. Most local governments and communities offer websites with information about the area. You can also use this information to hone in on those details that are must-haves in both a home and the area you’re considering. Once you’ve narrowed down your search area, plug-in those deal-breaking details, and start clicking on potential homes. Don’t be afraid to ask for a live virtual tour.

No Open Houses

Once you’re pre-approved, NOT pre-qualified, for a mortgage and narrowed down your list of homes, you’ll be able to tour houses as a serious buyer. Frankly, anyone in the market right now with everything going on is a serious buyer, as they’ve not let COVID-19 deter them from their house hunt. So, this part of the stage is the same, with your agent conducting one-on-one showings of those homes that pique your interest.

Because of social distancing, many agents are still hosting open houses, but they’re doing it virtually. Because of the format, virtual open houses are more like scheduled multi-buyer/agent tours, rather than an open house where people can come and go between set hours. Here, you’ll want to log in at the start time to get the tour, and then jump in to ask any questions you may have throughout.

While this is the current market situation, you can expect a lot of these safeguards to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Virtual showings may be here to stay, as they are time savers for everyone involved. While staggered paperwork signing at title agencies may go back to the regular roundtable, more states and agencies may adopt digital closings as an acceptable practice, pandemic or not. And lastly, sellers will likely  want the comfort of masks, gloves, booties, and an abundance of sanitizer available for showings.

The housing market in NJ is booming right now, if you are looking to sell or buy residential or commercial investments. Reach out to The Mumoli Group. Your trusted real estate experts.