The New Normal.. Buying in today's Market (June 2020)

I have been hearing from a lot of Buyers eager to start a search for their new home or even their first home.
Prices in the Kawarthas are a little more attractive making us a pretty hot spot to buy right now.

The good news is it can be done, but like everything else these days.. the process has changed.

Let's look at the steps involved in safely buying a home in the Kawarthas right now (summer, 2020).

GETTING FINANCING:
MORE UPFRONT:  Banks want it ALL upfront now.  That means your proof of income, an updated job letter (showing you have been working during the last 30 day - yes, during pandemic times), paystubs, your T-4 or Notice of Assessment and also a SIGNED separation Agreement.  Banks are not liking to make 'exceptions'.. if you are counting on income from an Air B N B,  don't have. a solid credit history or are still in a probation period at your job, you may not qualify.

PROOF OF INCOME:
As usual, you will need to provide proof of income to get a mortgage.  So if you have been laid - off, even temporarily - now is not a great time to apply for a mortgage.

INVESTORS ARE FACING MORE SCRUTINY:
Investors are facing more scrutiny in getting approved for mortgages, given the uncertain state of the rental market and the ability of tenants to pay rent.

They are also limiting the use of HELOC (Home equity lines of credit) to fund a downpayment, so if you are looking to buy a second property you may not be able to borrow from one home to fund the down payment of another. 

SELF EMPLOYED:
It is definitely more challenging to get a mortgage these days.  You will want a solid broker on your side, income taxes up to date and no outstanding taxes owing. Notice of Assessment for 2 or sometimes 3 years will be required showing that you have consistently made the income (after expenses) required for the payments.

DETAILS BEING THE SAME AT CLOSING:
Do not make any big purchases between getting pre-approved and closing. In other words, do not buy a car.  Do not change jobs.  They will reconfirm all your income and expenses just before closing as well. Do not make any changes!

YOUR APPROVAL BEFORE YOUR SEARCH IS CRITICAL.
In our area,  sometimes houses are selling in multiple offers.  When the Seller looks at offers, what they are often looking for is the highest amount with least amount of conditions.  Often the realtor can expect to be asked for a copy of your pre-approval letter BEFORE they even let us in the house.. and a lot of times with the offer.

PROPERTY SEARCH:
GET NEW LISTINGS SENT TO YOU DIRECT FROM A REALTOR.  - 
There are literally thousands of websites that come up with homes for sale in the Kawartha's.. from Zillow to individual agent and brokerage websites.  Because of how data is controlled in Ontario most sites do not list ALL the homes for sale, and some individual sites are being manually updated and are often out of date. 

A REALTOR sees the houses come up FIRST.  HIRE ONE.
To avoid the extra covid complexities that come up when trying to navigate on your own, choose a reputable realtor that already knows the ins and outs of buying and selling in today's market.  Top Realtors have a few secret networks where they may have exactly what you are looking for, just not on the market yet.  In today's world we are using electronic signatures. By using a Reputable realtor, one you already know and trust.. you can have faith that your best interests are paramount and nothing will be missed.

Your search should first be Virtual.
* RESEARCH the neighborhood first - especially if it is new to you.. pay attention to things that matter to you like schools, parks, playgrounds etc.., 
* DRIVE By the house and make sure that there are not any location deal breakers that you didn't notice on Google or perhaps didn't show up in the pictures.  For example, you may not want to live across the road from a cemetary.. or a school and only a drive by will show. 
* READ the whole MLS listing.  Instead of just scanning it to make sure it meets your minimum standards, you absolutely must read the whole thing.  For example if you need AC and the house is electric heating with no forced air system and that's a no-go for you.. better to find out now than before you venture out.  Your agent can help you understand/ read the listings.
* TOUR the home; virtually if time is tight - your agent may offer facetime or zoom.  Take a 3D walk through if available.
* GET a sense of prices - can you afford this home?  We are seeing homes sell in bidding wars, so if it is listed for $350,000.00 with a bidding war date, in a neighborhood where similar houses sell for $400,000. - it might not be worth the risks and extra efforts required to see that home in person.  
* REMEMBER you can still see houses in person, you just have to do the pre-work and virtual showings (if available) first, to eliminate the homes that won't be a match for you.. avoid the Covid risk!

IN PERSON SHOWINGS
* Open houses are not happening now and won't likely return until there is a vaccine.  You will need to work with a realtor to see a property in person.
* Are you safe and healthy? It is critical that you do not expose your Realtor, the Sellers or anyone else with a probable case of the virus.  Sometimes you will be required to complete a form attesting to your health BEFORE you are able to see a house in person.  Note that if you are seeing 3 houses there may be 3 seperate forms.  Yes it's a pain for us Realtor's too, but it is a part of the new reality.
* Transportation - you will not be riding in a car with your realtor, you will have to provide your own transportation.
*PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) - you will probably be asked to wear a mask (and possibly gloves).  You need to have some ready.  Your agent will have to do the same.
*Showing Restrictions - in most cases the only people allowed to be present at the showing are the people who will be on title.  Parents, friends, kids etc are discouraged from attending.  Most agents won't allow multiple showings to happen simultaneously, so it may be harder to get your ideal showing time, if someone has already booked a showing at that time.
*DON'T TOUCH!! - do not touch anything. Your agent can open what needs to be, turn on/ off lights. Let's all do our part to reduce exposure.

 

OFFERS
Making an offer on a house hasn't really changed a lot.  Most offers are happening electronically and they have been for quite some time.  I do not expect to see a return to in person bidding war nights :) 


Working with a Realtor during Coronavirus - and beyond
Ontario declared REALTORS an essential service at the start of the pandemic.  . That by no means means we do not have a responsibility to and obligation to flatten / reduce the curve and reduce exposure.  There are clear expectations for agents servicing clients in the midst of a pandemic and some individual agents have set out their own policies.

More than ever, it is important to have an agent you trust representing you.  With much of the process happening virtually, you will want to make sure you have someone with experience and knowledge to guide you through who isn't afraid to take the lead.

Do not hesitate to get in touch - if you have questions I will find answers.
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