003_9392_COLBERT_COURT_294647_535760Even during normal circumstances, house hunting is a complex and intricate process. You look high and low, leaving no stone unturned, to find the perfect house in the perfect location. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, however, these are anything but normal times for the DC metro area. In order to protect our communities, the days of realtors sitting all day at an available property with refreshments and snacks while allowing potential buyers to come and go as they please are gone for the foreseeable future. So, how can you effectively house hunt during these times?

Complimentary Virtual Home Buyer Consultation

If you are just beginning your house hunting process, Glass House Real Estate currently offers no-obligation virtual real estate consultations. These consultations use the virtual app of your choice, such as Zoom, Skype, or Facetime, and provide you with the opportunity to speak to our Principal Broker, Khalil El-Ghoul and discuss the ins and outs of buying and selling a home. Your meeting is an opportunity to have all your questions answered concerning the process of buying and selling a property during this unprecedented time. We’ll set up your MLS search alerts, provide you with information on pre-approval (if you haven’t already done so) and begin discussing the basics of your search and offer process. 

DC Metro Area Home Search During COVID19

Narrow Down Neighborhoods While House Hunting

If you aren’t sure what DC metro area neighborhood you want to live in, virtually exploring neighborhoods is a great start. Potential buyers can find out the best school districts by reading parent and student reviews on GreatSchools. Once you have pinned down the school(s) you are interested in, many schools will offer virtual tours and meetings with a school representative. While virtually exploring neighborhoods you can see how much and what type of crime is highest and check the number of registered sex offenders residing in the neighborhood. Because the house hunting process has changed, it is recommended you narrow down your neighborhoods of interest before touring homes. 

Safety Measures When House Hunting

Virtual home tours are always available, but the question many have is, “Can I see a home in person?” The answer is, yes. The National Association of Realtors suggests that when showing a home certain behaviors should be followed. They recommend only one buyer at a time entering the property and keeping a 6-feet distance between realtors and prospective buyers. They also suggest agents require potential buyers to sanitize their hands when entering a property and removing shoes or covering them with booties. Many agents are requiring such sanitization procedures to be followed, along with wearing a mask. 

Both agents and clients wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks, along with proper cleaning and sanitizing of hands and adhering to social distancing, help keep all parties safer. Agents will open all closets, doors, and drawers, allowing buyers to inspect the entire home without needing to touch anything. When homes are occupied during the sale, sellers are asked to remove any pets or people from the home while an in-person home tour is in progress. After tours are completed, sanitization protocol is followed.

The Evolution of House Hunting

Many steps are being taken in the world of real estate to protect sellers, buyers, agents, and all parties involved in the selling and buying of a home. The home appraisal protocol has evolved as well. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have minimized the need for in-home inspections, allowing drive-by appraisals for conventional loans. Pre COVID-19 many homebuyers were present for home inspections. Today many inspectors are offering video chats like Facetime for buyers to remotely join the inspection. 

Traditionally, real estate transactions follow a process of in-person paperwork not only for appraisals and inspections but also for notarizing paperwork and final walkthroughs. Thankfully, advanced digital technology can solve these problems. Since so many documents involved in the closing process require a notary, remote online notarization (RON) exists for states allowing it. In other states, realtors are suggesting drive-through notaries so clients do not have to leave their cars. They simply pass documents through a window, ensuring complete safety. 

Although buying and selling a home looks different than it did just months ago, fortunately real estate is a business that can evolve safely with our ever-changing times. 

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Khalil El-Ghoul

"Thanks for reading! I’m passionate about empowering home buyers and sellers with professional advice and unbiased information, throughout the real estate transaction. Unlike most agents, I always put clients first. When it comes to negotiating, marketing homes, and sealing the deal, I’ve got the experience and knowledge you’re looking for. If you have any questions about moving to VA, D.C., or MD, don’t hesitate to reach out."